About Broadband - Glossary

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Broadband Glossary

The language used when people talk about the internet can often seem quite intimidating and confusing. We have listed below the frequently used terms and their meanings.

ADSL
Stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. This is the technology that has been developed for enabling broadband connections using existing telephone networks.

Bandwidth
The amount of data that can be transferred over a connection at any one time. For a standard connection through a phone line the bandwidth can be up to 56 kilobits per second (56kbps), for a broadband connection it is normally at least 256kbps and can be up to 512kbps.

Broadband
A connection to the Internet that works at high speeds because of its greater bandwidth.

Cable
The generic name given to services which use fibre optic cable buried underground to carry telephone, television and broadband to your home.

Contention ratio
Contention means that you share your bandwidth with a number of other users. This means that the quality and speed of connection is dependent on the number of users online at any given time. For business ADSL use, the contention ratio is likely to be around 20:1. In other words, up to 19 other users share your bandwidth. For cable modem uses, the contention ratio could be as high as 50:1. In other words, up to 49 other users share your bandwidth.

Dial-up
A dial-up connection uses a telephone line to connect to the Internet. A modem is used to turn data into audio signals so that it can literally 'dial' the number of your internet service provider (ISP) and communicate with their computers.

Download
Describes the process of transferring files from a location on the internet to your PC.

High Speed Modem
Hardware required to receive broadband services. High Speed Modems are capable of far higher rates of data transfer than conventional 56kbps modems.

Instant Messaging
Simple text-based chat, which allows you to communicate with another internet user in real time.

Kbps (kilobits per second)
Describes the amount of data which is transferred between computers.

Midband
This is a term used by some service providers for a slower broadband service of 128kbps. This is the same speed as a dual-ISDN line.

MP3
Audio file format, which uses compression software to make the file size smaller without significant reduction in quality. Common file format for sharing music files on the internet.

Network Card
A piece of hardware which allows certain types of modem to be connected to your computer. They are also used to connect a number of computers together to form a network.

Plug-In
Special software that helps view certain types of pages or documents on the internet. Most are available free of charge.

Streaming
An alternative to downloading large files such as audio and video. Streaming allows users to commence playback whilst the remaining file is downloading in the background.

Upload
Describes the process of transferring files from your PC to another location on the internet.


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