Jargon buster

Jargon Buster Factsheet

Like any industry, the world of computers, telecommunications, broadband and the Internet has a language of its own. Below you’ll find the three most commonly raised queries from our Jargon Buster sheet

 

Click on the arrows to expand the description for each title 

 

Show moreWhat is Superfast Broadband?
 

"Superfast broadband” is broadband that provides a connection of at least 24Mbps download speed i.e. the connection to you. (Upload speed – the connection away from you - will normally be slower).

By April 2016, at least 88% of Lincolnshire premises will have this connection speed. The remainder will have at least 2Mbps by that date.

This is part of a Government programme to help provide this level of coverage across the UK. 

Show moreWhat is Wireless Broadband?
 

Wireless Broadband is actually a range of technologies, based on differing standards.

The common core of all these services is using radio frequencies to transmit back and forwards from a fixed base station – e.g. on a tall building or radio mast, to the end user – (a business or consumer).

No physical connection is needed, just a receiver/transmitter unit on your building, aligned to your local base station.

The receiver / transmitter outside your premises sends the signals through to a connection point inside via wires. The connection point then links to your computer or router.

Lincolnshire already has a wireless Wi-Fi broadband network in place in Lincoln City Centre, accessible to the public and business. This also extends out to Bracebridge Heath and Ingham.

As part of the plan to provide Superfast broadband (24Mbps or better) to at least 88% of Lincolnshire premises, Lincoln firm AB Internet have been commissioned to provide wireless services to some communities. They will focus on two areas towards the east coast - Ingoldmells, Chapel St Leonards and Willoughby with Sloothby and Old Leake and Wrangle, Frithville, Stickney and Sibsey.

There are also other wireless broadband networks already provided by other businesses, for example Linpop Ltd in the North of the county. 

Show moreWhat is 4G?
 

4G is the next-generation of mobile phone technology. It will allow much greater access to web based applications – for example, you will be able to easily view video or video conferencing on your 4G device. 

There is currently only one telecom provider of this service in the UK. However, rollout of 4G services should take place nationwide over 2013 as other telecom providers have bought operating licenses from the Government, and have plans in place. 

Technically quite different (and more advanced) than 3G, a 4G service is particularly good at coverage in rural areas, which may benefit rural Lincolnshire. 4G could potentially deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps to mobile devices such as smartphones

Show more3G
 

3G is a mobile phone technology that allows access to the web, as well as other data services.  Most current mobile phones use this technology. 

Coverage via 3G can be patchy though, particularly in rural Lincolnshire. 

If the 3G service isn’t available, you would still be able to receive and send telephone calls, (as long as there is some signal coverage). 

Show moreActivation
 

Most Lincolnshire residents can receive broadband, even if only at low speed. 

However, if you are still reliant on dial-up or alternative services like satellite, “Broadband Activation” is the process by which your existing telephone line becomes set up to also receive broadband.  

You’ll be given a date when this will happen, but the actual activation takes place at your local phone exchange. When you subscribe to a broadband package, your service will not be in place until activation occurs.  

Show moreADSL- Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line
 

This is the most common type of broadband internet connection. It’s delivered over a standard telephone line, and you can still make telephone calls too. The broadband connection is kept separate from the telephone call signal by the use of special filters.

Most broadband connections are “Asymmetric”. This means that the broadband connection speed TO you is higher than the speed FROM you.

Unfortunately, the broadband speed that you can receive is very dependent on two factors:

  • The length of the ctual telephone line from the telephone exchange to the green curb side cabinet, and then onwards to your property.
  • The quality of the line itself - existing cabling is normally copper, and this has      restrictions.

For example, if you are far away from the exchange, the speed of the broadband may drop to a poor level. This is known as a “slow spot”.

(Eventually, the distance becomes too great and a broadband signal isn’t possible. This is known as a “not-spot”. You would still be able to receive and make a normal telephone call though – this distance effect isn’t as much of a problem for voice calls.)

BT has now won the contract from the County Council to develop Superfast broadband connectivity throughout Lincolnshire to help address this issue.

Amongst a range of solutions, the biggest element will be the connection of the green curb side cabinets (often in practice a new cabinet adjacent to the old one) to BT exchanges by fibre-optic cable instead of the current copper. (This is known as Fibre to the Cabinet – FTTC.)

The existing copper telephone cable will then connect the cabinet to your property.

In many areas, this will allow Superfast broadband of up to 24Mbs and above to end users, as the majority of the distance to the exchange will then be via fibre optic cable, not copper. This speed will be available to at least 88% of all Lincolnshire premises by April 2016.

The remaining premises will have at least 2Mbps connectivity by that date too.  

Show moreAnti-Virus software
 

Viruses are malicious computer programs, often sent via email but sometimes infecting web sites.

They can cause serious problems for you by damaging your computer. You could inadvertently spread them to other people’s computers too.

Any computer, (including Apple Macs), is potentially vulnerable.  It is vital that you have anti-virus software installed on your computer and that you keep it up to date – preferably by automatic scheduled downloads.

Show moreBandwidth
 

Bandwidth is the capacity of your broadband service to transmit and receive data – you could view this as how “wide” the broadband pipe to and from your premises is.

It’s measured in bits per second, with 1 bit being one “bit” of data. As broadband is so fast, we normally now measure “Mega-bits per second” – Mbps.

So if you measure your connection speed and have 24Mbps download, this means that you are receiving 24 Million bits of data per second.

When you subscribe to a broadband provider, you may see details such as “up to 24Mbps download” in their advertising - the upload figure is likely to be slower. 

Show moreBroadband
 

Broadband is an always-on internet connection. It’s normally provided at a fixed cost per month.

Most broadband circuits are shared between multiple users. This is known as the “contention ratio”. For example, if you have a 24 Mbps connection with a contention ratio of 50:1, at peak times of day you could be sharing this with 49 other users.

You would only get a fraction of the speed.

Sharing the capacity means that the cost of providing the service to you is cheaper. The main issue is that your broadband speed will be lower at peak times.

Contention ratios vary between providers, 50:1 being common amongst domestic providers, with 20:1 being more common amongst business ones. If you are looking for a broadband provider, it’s obviously better if the contention ratio is smaller. You are less likely to experience slow speeds at peak times on a 20:1 ratio than a 50:1 ratio.

There are a great many different types of broadband, based on how the service is delivered.

Show moreBroadband in Lincolnshire
 

In Lincolnshire we have broadband delivered via:

  • The telephone line as ADSL throughout much of the county
  • Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line in some limited areas
  • Cable modem in some urban areas via Virgin Media
  • Publicly accessible Wi-Fi wireless in Lincoln City Centre, extending to Bracebridge Heath in the South and Ingham in the North
  • High speed fibre optic cable in a limited area currently
  • Wireless broadband in several areas of the county, e.g. the Linpop service in the North
  • Special leased lines, run by some firms
  • 3G & other mobile,
  • Satellite
  • By April 2016, 88% of the county will be able to receive Superfast broadband of 24Mbps or above, with the remainder receiving at least 2Mbps.

It is currently possible to receive broadband throughout all of Lincolnshire (e.g. by satellite in the most difficult to serve areas) – but this is slower and more expensive than other types of broadband. 

Show moreCable broadband
 

As an alternative to ADSL or other services, some of the urban areas of Lincolnshire are wired for cable service by Virgin Media.

Cable broadband is delivered via fibre optic cable, which means that very high broadband speeds are available in some areas – up to 120Mbps.

Cable broadband also allows Virgin Media to incorporate TV and landline calls into the package you subscribe to. This is known as a “bundled service”, and may also be available from your ADSL supplier too.

The website link below to Virgin Media also allows you to check your postcode to see if the service is available in your area:

http://tinyurl.com/5v7lrod 

Show moreCloud Computing
 

Wikipedia defines Cloud Computing as”the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).  The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol.”

What this means practically is that both consumers’ and businesses data and software can be based remotely in a data centre.  This is then accessed via the web from anywhere via a PC, a Smartphone or tablet or any other device that can access the web.

Many people and businesses already use Cloud Computing – e.g. FaceBook and Google Mail are both Cloud based, with many millions of users. 

Show moreExtranets & Intranets
 

An extranet is a type of website that is accessible to invited or registered users but not accessible to the general public.  Often, it integrates into the internal office computer systems of a firm, so that e.g. order progress can be checked by a customer.

An intranet is a web site for internal company or organizational use. Authorised users such as staff can connect into these from a remote location, in order to get access to company information and files.

With either application, access via superfast broadband for either the business providing the service or the individual using it makes these systems much quicker and more productive.

Show moreFair Usage Policy
 

(Also known as Acceptable Use policies)

Fair Usage policies are part of the contract that you sign up to when you subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISPs). Fair Usage policies may restrict what you do online:  for example, many state that you can’t send spam emails or use the broadband connection for illegal purposes.

Some also insist that you maintain adequate anti-virus systems on your PCs. If they determine that your PC is spreading a virus infection, they can switch off your connection immediately.

Show moreFibre-optic cable
 

A fibre-optic cable is made up from coated high quality silica glass (or sometimes a type of plastic).

Huge amounts of data can be passed through it in the form of light without loss of data on the way. The signal can be passed for very long distances, and if necessary, can be easily boosted along the way. This allows for extremely fast broadband, and is at the core of most broadband technology. 

Show moreFirewall
 

A firewall acts as a barrier against unauthorised access to your computer by “hackers” via the Internet. All data that goes to or from your computer to the Internet has to pass through the firewall. Any suspicious or unauthorised traffic that may present a risk is automatically filtered out.

If you are connected to the Internet via broadband, it is essential that you have a firewall in place.  This is for the same reasons detailed about having an anti-virus program.

Show moreFibre to the cabinet (FTTC)
 

Also know as Fibre to the Curb.

Telecoms companies worldwide are looking to improve how they can deliver broadband as well as add other services like TV.

In the UK, most broadband is delivered via the old telephone lines made from copper. Fibre optic cable offers the possibility of huge improvements in speed.

As part of their successful tender to deliver Superfast broadband in Lincolnshire, BT are rolling out  a program of changing copper cables to fibre optic to many of their cabinets.

This connects back to their exchanges and will allow them to deliver Superfast broadband speeds – 24Mbps to around 88% of the county’s population.

The connection from the curb side cabinet to your property would still be via copper cable though. This limits the possible speed gain, but still offers an enormously improved broadband speed to users.

Show moreFibre to the Premises (FTTP)
 

This is an extension of the above service, whereby the fibre optic cable runs all the way to the property, not just the road side cabinet.

Removing the final section of copper wire helps guarantee very high broadband speeds, as well as offering the chance for delivery of TV channels too.

However, some new housing estates and business park developments around the UK are already being built with this FTTP connectivity as standard from the start.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) are both part of what is known as Next Generation Access (NGA). (This just means high speed internet connections, normally delivered via fibre optic cables.)

Show moreIP address
 

This stands for Internet Protocol address, and is the unique Internet address of your computer, similar to your postcode.

Show moreISP - Internet Service Provider
 

An ISP is simply the company providing your broadband connection to the internet.

Some also provide other bundled services such as TV and telephone too, for example Virgin Media with their cable service and Sky with their satellite TV and telephone /broadband services.

There are many potential providers of broadband services, each of who offer different deals and packages. It is worthwhile researching the market to identify which deal best suits your needs.

The below websites have comparisons of features and costs for different ISPs:

http://www.broadband-finder.co.uk

http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk

Show moreLAN - Local Area Network
 

A LAN is a network of connected computers. This may be by physical cabling or via a wireless connection. A LAN is often used by businesses, where the computers can use the same internet connection.

Many homes now have a LAN too – this lets several PCs, laptops and tablets etc. share the same broadband connection, and perhaps other resources such as printers. A Wireless LAN uses Wi-Fi to connect these devices without the need for and inconvenience of physical wiring.

Many ISPs provide a wireless, Wi-Fi router as part of their package, or you could buy one yourself, for around £50 – 100.

If you do use Wi-Fi to create your own network, it’s important that you setup a password on your Wi-Fi connection for security.

Show moreMicro-filter
 

A micro-filter is a small device that inserts into your phone socket and splits the socket into a broadband connection and a telephone connection.

It prevents interference from an ADSL connection on phone extensions during voice calls.

It’s important that a micro-filter is installed on each of the extensions if you have more than just the single telephone socket.

If you don’t, your broadband speed is likely to be poor or non-existent.

Show moreModem – (Modulator Demodulator)
 

In the past, when Internet connection took place via a dial-up connection, a modem converted digital data from your computer to analogue signals that could be sent down a normal telephone line. Now, broadband uses frequencies above where the normal voice messages travel, (this is why you can now use a telephone on the same socket as a broadband connection).

The two main types are:

  • ADSL modems – for use on ADSL telephone line broadband
  • Cable modems – for cable based broadband.

They are not interchangeable as the technology used is very different. They are normally provided as part of your subscription package with your ISP.

Many modems now incorporate a wireless router, so you can connect several PCs and other devices to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

Show moreRouter
 

(Routers may also be known as hubs, gateways or base stations)

A router sits between your computer and the modem connecting you to the Internet and determines where to send your online data. They are normally used when more than one computer or other device is sharing a broadband connection. They “route” the information received from the Internet to the right computer or device.

So, for example, if you’re browsing holiday websites on one PC and your partner is buying a book online on another, your router ensures that the right information from the right website is delivered to the right person!

Often, routers are now incorporated into the modem, and incorporate wireless too – they use Wi-Fi to distribute the information to computers or other type of Wi-Fi connected device.

Show moreSatellite Broadband
 

It is possible to receive broadband via satellite, although this is probably an option of last resort for most people, due to cost.

You are almost guaranteed to be able to get broadband by this means: you will need a satellite dish and a subscription to a satellite ISP. They normally set the dish and equipment up for you as part of your installation fee.

Building, launching and operating satellites is very expensive, and these costs are necessarily passed on to people using these services. Satellite broadband hence tends to be both more expensive than ground- based technologies and to have much stricter limits in terms of how much information you can send and receive.  Costs have, however fallen in recent years to a much more affordable level.  

Show moreSLA - Service Level Agreement
 

A Service Level Agreement details the terms and conditions of your service delivery with your ISP.

This will be part of your subscription contract with them, and will state what service they will provide – and what happens if they don’t. For example, it might say that your broadband connection is guaranteed to be available at least 99.9% of the time.

If the service level drops below this, it should say what they will do to recompense you.

This may be particularly important to businesses, many of whom cannot function without good Internet access. If this is relevant to your business, you should check before signing any subscriptions with an ISP.  

Show moreSuperfast Broadband
 

Superfast broadband is broadband that provides a connection of at least 24Mbps download speed i.e. the connection to you. (Upload speed – the connection away from you - will normally be slower).

By April 2016, at least 88% of Lincolnshire premises will have this connection speed. The remainder will have at least 2Mbps by that date.

This is part of a Government programme to help provide this level of coverage across the UK. 

Show more"Unlimited Download" Broadband
 

Although many companies advertise “unlimited download” packages, in practice they also have “Fair Usage” policies in place which restrict usage in some cases. There are very few totally unlimited download packages on the market.

These policies ensure that other customers aren’t disadvantaged in their usage of their broadband by your online activities. If they consider your use to be excessive at certain peak times, they may reduce the speed of your broadband connection during those peak hours: this is called “throttling”.

Show moreVideo Conferencing
 

Video conferencing allows users to speak and see each other, to share data, documents, images and sound when they are not physically present in the same location.

The systems use the Internet to transmit the data back and forth. High speed broadband makes it possible to transmit more data, making the video and sound much better quality.

Show moreVirtual Private Network
 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure means to allow businesses to give remote access to their main office computer network.

This might be to other branch offices or to people working at home or in other locations (e.g. sales staff on the road).

Unlike linking your branch offices back to the head office through leased phone lines, a VPN uses the Internet, and secure encryption technology. This makes this extremely secure and comparatively cheap and easy to set up.

Show moreVoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
 

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using your broadband Internet connection instead of your (analogue) phone line.

VoIP can offer substantial savings on ordinary call costs, as well as having a range of other features that make it attractive to businesses.

For consumers, there are several systems, but probably the most commonly-used is Skype www.skype.com

VoIP operates best with good, fast broadband.

Show moreWAN - Wide Area Network
 

A WAN is a geographically widespread network that might include many linked local area networks as well as individual PCs.

A typical user of a WAN may be a business with several area offices in different locations, all of which are linked back into the head offices systems. This gives the business advantages by having up to date information from all its local offices, making business decisions more informed.

Fast broadband makes WANs much easier to put in place for smaller firms: they previously tended to be in place in larger organisations.

Show moreWi-Fi
 

With a high speed broadband connection, you can easily share connection to the Internet amongst several PCs or other devices in your home or business.

By setting up a simple Wi-Fi (wireless) network in your home, all family members will be able to access the Internet via a range of devices. Businesses could also create a Wi-Fi network to link their computers too.

Wi-Fi routers are commonplace and inexpensive: many ISPs incorporate a combined modem/Wi-Fi router into their subscription package.

Wi-Fi is also often available to use in public spaces such as hotels, railway stations and coffee shops – this is often known as a Wi-Fi Hotspot.

Lincoln has one of the first city centre-wide Wi-Fi networks in the country, which can be accessed for a small charge. This network also extends out to Bracebridge Heath and Ingham.

Show moreWireless Broadband
 

Wireless Broadband is actually a range of technologies, based on differing standards.

The common core of all these services is using radio frequencies to transmit back and forwards from a fixed base station – e.g. on a tall building or radio mast, to the end user – (a business or consumer).

No physical connection is needed, just a receiver/transmitter unit on your building, aligned to your local base station.

The receiver / transmitter outside your premises send the signals through to a connection point inside via wires. The connection point then links to your computer or router.

Lincolnshire already has a wireless Wi-Fi broadband network in place in Lincoln City Centre, accessible to the public and business. This also extends out to Bracebridge Heath and Ingham.

As part of the plan to provide Superfast broadband (24Mbps or better) to at least 88% of Lincolnshire premises, Lincoln firm AB Internet have been commissioned to provide wireless services to some communities. They will focus on two areas towards the east coast - Ingoldmells, Chapel St Leonards and Willoughby with Sloothby and Old Leake and Wrangle, Frithville, Stickney and Sibsey.

There are also other wireless broadband networks already provided by other businesses, for example Linpop Ltd in the North of the county. 

 

Disclaimer: Lincolnshire County Council has no commercial links with any of these organisations or companies mentioned and their products. Their appearance in this fact sheet is not an endorsement. Lincolnshire County Council is also not responsible for the content of these websites.