Advanced Mobile Phone Service: AMPS represents the original technology system used for wireless networks. It is currently only being utilized by Nextel.
Air Interface: Is the operating system of a wireless network. Technologies include AMPS, TDMA, CDMA, GSM and iDEN.
Airtime: The amount of time a person spends talking on their cellular device. Most major U.S. service providers bill airtime by minutes used on a monthly basis.
Analog: The traditional method of adapting radio signals so they can carry information. AM (Amplitude Modulation) and FM (Frequency Modulation) are the two most common analog systems. Analog has largely been replaced by digital technologies, which are more secure, more efficient and provide better quality.
Android: When Google joined the cellular phone market, they created Android, their first smartphone operating system (OS). Based on Linux, the Android OS promises power, flexibility, and extendability.HTC was the first to introduce a device that will run the Android OS, the G1. Android is not only an OS but a software platform. This gives all cellular manufacturers the ability to build new device that can use Android. The Android platform is completely open-source, allowing any developer to tap into its full power and create some pretty cool apps.
Antenna: A device consisting of a set of wires that is used for transmitting and receiving radio waves. You extend or raise a retractable antenna when you are using the phone and "retract" it when you're done with the call. Fixed-length antennas and internal antennas require no action on the part of the user. There are no significant reception benefits or advantages to one antenna type over another; antenna choice is more a matter of personal preference.
Base Station: Is the central radio transmitter/receiver that communicates with mobile telephones within a given range, typically a cell site.
Basic Trading Area (BTA): A geographic area designed by Rand McNally to reflect business centers. The BTA layout was adopted by the FCC for the licensing of Personal Communications Services and some other wireless services. A BTA includes several neighboring counties that are associated by business and commuting patterns. The United States and some of its territories are divided into 493 BTAs.
Bluetooth: Radio technology that enables devices such as computers, mobile phones and hands-free kits to be connected without cables up to 30 feet away. Bluetooth technology provides complete wireless mobility.
Bonded copper: Aggregating DSL circuits together to boost throughput.
BREW: Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, BREWTM, developed by Qualcomm, is a service application developer's platform. BREWTM technology gives developers the ability to enable numerous applications for users to download wirelessly from any BREWTM-enabled handset. These handsets are able to download, install and run a variety of entertaining, informative and productive applications.
Broadband: A term used when describing the bandwidth or capacity needed to carry multiple voice, video or data channels simultaneously. Broadband technology was introduced to help deliver increased amounts of speeds and advanced capabilities. These advancements now give consumers better access to the Internet, related services, and facilities.
Carrier: Also known as service provider or operator, a carrier is the communications company that provides customers service (including air time) for their wireless phones.
Carrier: The provider responsible for all of your wireless services i.e. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Alltel, Sprint and many others. The Carrier provides the customer the means of making a call by establishing a network of cell towers which transmit calls through the various telephone networks throughout the world. The carrier is responsible for all facets of your service including customer service and billing. While Carriers often sell the physical phone, separate companies such as Nokia, Motorola, LG and others actually manufacturer the phone and provide product warranties.
CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access better known in the cellular world as CDMA is a technology that is used to transmit wireless calls. To transmit the call, CDMA technology assigns codes and spreads the calls out over the widest range of available channels. The codes allow many calls to travel on the same frequency and also direct each person’s call to the proper phone number dialed.
CDMA2000 1XRTT: The first step in the evolution to 3G is cdma2000 1X, which improves packet data transmission capabilities and speeds in the network, and also boosts voice capacity. (Speed of up to 307 kbps.)
CDMA2000 1XEV-DO: (Evolution Data-Only). CDMA2000 1XEV represents the second step in the evolution of CDMA2000. Commercially launched in 2001, offers data speeds of up to 2.4 Mbps.
CDMA2000 1XEV-DV: (Evolution Data-Voice). CDMA2000 1XEV represents the next step in the evolution of CDMA2000. CDMA2000 was approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a standards body based in Geneva, as a 3G technology to provide data and voice services together, with data rates of up to 3.09 Mbps.
Cell: The basic geographic unit of wireless coverage. Short for cellular, a cell is used to break down a cities wireless network into smaller sections. A region is divided into smaller "cells," each equipped with a low-powered radio transmitter/receiver. The radio frequencies assigned to one cell can be limited to the boundaries of that cell. As a wireless call moves from one cell to another, a computer at the Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) monitors the call and at the proper time, transfers the phone call to the new cell and new radio frequency. The handoff is performed so quickly that it’s not noticeable to the callers.
Cell Site: This is considered the location where a wireless antenna and network communication equipment is placed in order to provide wireless service in a geographic area.
Cell Splitting: A process completed to help increase the capacity of a wireless system. It is completed by subdividing one cell into two or more smaller cells.
Channel / Circuit: A communications pathway that may take the form of a connection established over wireless, wired, or fiber optic facilities.
Circuit Switched Data (CSD): One technological approach used for the exchange of data. A circuit connection is made that is intended for that particular individual’s use only. This can be inefficient, as many communications do not require a dedicated communications channel, but only brief connectivity, for the transmission of short messages.
Co-Location: A common site where you will find multiple antennas. For carriers to be able to provider excellent service to the consumer their antennas may need to be in certain areas of a cell. Some companies will act as brokers or cell site managers. This allows for the arranging of cell sites and coordinating many carriers' antennas at a single cell site.
Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) Provider: An FCC classification for any wireless carrier or license owner whose wireless service is connected to the public switched telephone network and/or is operated for profit. Wireless services that are offered to the public are classified as CMRS, unlike private systems which are classified as “Private Mobile Services.”
Digital: Technological approach that converts signals (including voice) into the binary digits ‘0’ and ‘1’. This data is compressed, and then transformed into electronic pulses for a wired network, optical light waves for fiber optic networks or radio waves for wireless networks. Digital wireless technology has been replacing analog technology, because digital delivers more capacity and supports more applications, as well as offers better sound quality, and more secure signals.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): A digital line connecting the subscriber’s terminal to the serving company’s central office, providing multiple communications channels able to carry both voice and data communications simultaneously.
Dual Band: Can be found is some wireless handset making it capable to work on more than one spectrum frequency. In the US a dual band device would be able to work in the 800 MHz frequency and 1900 MHz frequency bands.
Dual Mode: A wireless handset that works on both analog and digital networks.
Electronic Serial Number (ESN): Assigned by the wireless manufacture, an ESN is a unique serial identification number programmed into your mobile device. Each time a call is placed, the ESN is transmitted to a nearby base station so the wireless carrier can validate the call. The ESN is electronically monitored to help prevent fraud.
Enhanced Data Rate for Global Evolution (EDGE): is an evolutionary technology that was introduced to provider faster delivery of data for GSM customers. EDGE is capable of delivering at rates up to 384 Kbps. The standard is based on the GSM technology platform and uses the TDMA approach (see TDMA, below).
Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio (ESMR): A single wireless device that combines a two-way radio (also know as push to talk), phone, mobile dispatch, radio paging and Mobile data capabilities, and operates on digital networks.
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS): A packet-switched technology that enables high-speed wireless Internet and other data communications. GPRS offers a tenfold increase in data speed over previous technologies, up to 115kbit/s (in theory). Typical real-world speeds are around 30-40 Kbps. Using a packet switching, subscribers are always connected and always on-line. GPRS is considered a 2.5G technology.
Global Positioning System (GPS): A system of satellites, computers, and receivers that is able to determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on Earth by calculating the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver.
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM): A technological approach also based on dividing wireless calls into time slots. GSM is most common in Europe, Australia and much of Asia and Africa. Generally, GSM phones from the United States are not compatible with international GSM networks because the U.S. and many other nations use different frequencies for mobile communications. However, some phones are equipped with a multi-band capability to operate on such other frequencies.
Handoff: The process when a wireless network automatically switches a mobile call to an adjacent cell site.
High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD): HSCSD is used to make a permanent connection between callers. This connection now makes it possible to exchange data. HSCSD is more suited to applications such as videoconferencing and multimedia since it is circuit switched.
Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN): A specialized mobile technology that combines two-way radio, telephone, text messaging and data transmission into one digital network. iDEN is designed to give users quick access to information on a single device. Introduced by Motorola and used by AirTel Montana, Nextel Communications, Nextel Partners, and Southern LINC Wireless, among others.
Interconnection: Connecting one wireless network to another, such as linking a wireless carrier's network with a local telephone company’s network.
Interoperability: The ability of a network to coordinate and communicate with other networks, such as two systems based on different protocols or technologies.
Local Area Network (LAN): Local Area Network (LAN) is a small data network covering a limited area, such as a building or group of buildings. Most LANs connect workstations or personal computers. This allows many users to share devices, such as laser printers, as well as data. The LAN also allows easy communication, by facilitating e-mail or supporting chat sessions.
Major Trading Area (MTA): A geographic area designed by Rand McNally to reflect business centers, and adopted by the FCC for the licensing of Personal Communications Services and some other wireless services. MTAs are composed of neighboring basic trading areas (BTAs) associated with major business centers. The U.S. is divided into 51 MTAs, which do not reflect state boundaries
Megahertz: Megahertz (MHz) is a unit of frequency equal to one million hertz or cycles per second. Wireless mobile communications within the United States generally occur in the 800 MHz, 900MHz and 1900MHz spectrum frequency bands.
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA): One of the 306 urban-centered cellular service areas based on the largest urban markets as designated by the U.S. government in 1980. Two “cellular” service operators are licensed in each MSA.
Mobile Identification Number (MIN): The MIN, more commonly known as a wireless phone number, uniquely identifies a wireless device within a wireless carrier's network. The MIN is dialed from other wireless or wireline networks to direct a signal to a specific wireless device. The number differs from the electronic serial number, which is the unit number assigned by a phone manufacturer. MINs and ESNs can be electronically checked to help prevent fraud.
Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO): The central computer that connects wireless phone calls to the public telephone network. The MTSO controls the series of operations required to complete wireless calls, including verifying calls, billing and antenna handoffs.
Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO): A company that buys network capacity from a network operator in order to offer its own branded mobile subscriptions and value-added services to customers.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS): A further extension of SMS and EMS. MMS is designed to make use of newer and quicker mobile transmission methods such as GPRS, HSCSD, EDGE and UMTS, involving the attachment of multimedia extensions to messages, such as video and sound.
Number Assignment Module (NAM): The NAM is the electronic memory bank in the wireless phone that stores its specific telephone number and electronic serial number.
Number Portability: Is a service that makes it possible for consumers to keep their existing cellular telephone number when changing service providers in a specific area.
Operating System (OS): Controls the operation of your mobile device. Advanced platforms such as Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm OS make it possible to run software applications on top of the operating system (OS). Enjoy access to your personal organizer, games, or numerous communication applications.
Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM): A system for the transmission of digital message elements spread over multiple channels within a frequency band, in order to achieve greater throughput while minimizing interference and signal degradation through the use of multiple antennas.
Packet: A piece of data sent over a packet-switching network, such as the Internet. A packet includes not just the data comprising the message but also address information about its origination and destination.
Packet Data: Information that is reduced into digital pieces or ‘packets’, so it can travel more efficiently across networks, including radio airwaves and wireless networks.
Packet Switched Data (PSD): A technological approach in which the communication “pipe” is shared by several users, thus making it very efficient. The data is sent to a specific address with a short delay. This delay depends on how many users are using the pipe at any one time as well as the level of priority requested for your information. PSD is the technology used for data communication across the Internet and makes more efficient use of the network.
Personal Communications Services (PCS): Defined by the FCC as a broad family of wireless services, commonly viewed as including two-way digital voice, messaging and data services. One set of “PCS” licenses established by the FCC operates in the 1900 MHz band.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): A portable computing device capable of transmitting data. These devices offer services such as paging, data messaging, e-mail, computing, faxes, date books and other information management capabilities.
Personal Identification Number (PIN): An additional security feature for wireless phones, much like a password. Programming a PIN into the Subscriber Information Module (SIM) on a wireless phone requires the user to enter that access code each time the phone is turned on.
POPs: For wireless, POPs generally refers to the number of people in a specific area where wireless services are available (the population). For traditional ‘landline’ communications, a “Point of Presence” defines the interconnection point between the two networks.
Protocol: A standard set of definitions governing how communications are formatted in order to permit their transmission across networks and between devices.
Repeater: A device that receives a radio signal and is responsible for amplifying it and re-transmitting it in a new direction. It is used in wireless networks to extend the range of base station signals and to expand coverage. Repeaters can typically be found inside buildings, tunnels or difficult terrain.
Roaming: When traveling outside their carrier's local service area, roaming allows users to continue to make and receive calls when operating in another carrier’s service coverage area. Many of the major carriers now offer national coverage making roaming charges avoidable.
Rural Service Area (RSA): One of the 428 rural markets across the United States, as designated by the FCC for the delivery of cellular service outside of the initial 306 MSAs.
Short Messaging Service (SMS): SMS allows mobile device users to send and receive short text messages.
Smart Antenna: A wireless antenna with technology that focuses its signal in a specific direction. Wireless networks use smart antennas to reduce the number of dropped calls, and to improve call quality and channel capacity.
Smart Phone: Wireless devices that come equipped with much more advanced data features than most. Smart Phones also often come with keyboards. What makes the phone "smart" is its ability to manage and transmit data in addition to voice calls.
Spectrum Allocation: Process whereby the federal government designates frequencies for specific uses, such as personal communications services and public safety. Allocation is typically accomplished through lengthy FCC proceedings, which attempt to adapt allocations to accommodate changes in spectrum demand and usage.
Spectrum Assignment: Federal government authorization for the use of specific frequencies within a given spectrum allocation, usually in a specific geographic location. Mobile communications assignments are granted to both private users such as businesses, and commercial providers such as wireless and paging operators. Spectrum auctions and/or frequency coordination processes, which consider potential interference to existing users, may apply.
Spread Spectrum: A method of transmitting a radio signal by spreading it over a wide range of frequencies. This reduces interference and can increase the number of simultaneous users on one radio frequency band.
Third-Generation (3G): A general term that refers to technologies which offer increased capacity and capabilities delivered over digital wireless networks.
Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA): A technological standard that permits the transmission of information by dividing calls into time slots, each one lasting only a fraction of a second. Each call is assigned a specific portion of time on a designated channel. By dividing each call into timed ‘packets,’ a single channel can carry many calls at once.
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP): A protocol permitting communications over and between networks, the TCP/IP protocol is the basis for the Internet communications.
Tri-Band Handset: Phones that work on multiple frequencies, typically in the 1900 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz frequencies used in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Tri-Mode Handset: Phones that operate in different modes, such as the CDMA, TDMA, and analog standards.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS): This is third generation technology generally based on W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access). UMTS promises a communications speed between 384 kbps and up to about 2 Mbps.
Unlocked: Describes a phone that is not locked with any particular service provider. This means that the phone will work with any carrier that supports the band/frequencies specified for the device. Some features such as picture messaging may not work until the phone is properly configured. Always be sure to contact your service provider if you are not sure about the frequencies they carry or if certain features of your new unlocked device are not working.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): VoIP, also known as Broadband phone service, uses your high-speed Internet connection to place and receive phone calls.
Voice Recognition: Is a technology that makes your wireless device or computers capable of being activated and controlled by voice commands.
W-CDMA: Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, one of two 3G standards that makes use of a wider spectrum than CDMA and therefore can transmit and receive information faster and more efficiently.
Wi-Max: A wireless technology based on the IEEE 802.16 standard providing metropolitan area network connectivity for fixed wireless access at broadband speeds.
Wide Area Network (WAN): A general term referring to a large network spanning a country or around the world. The Internet is a WAN. A public mobile communication system such as a cellular or PCS network is a WAN.
Wireless Application Protocol (WIP): Wireless Application Protocol is a set of standards that enables wireless devices, such as phones, pagers and palm devices, to browse content from specially-coded Web pages.
Wireless Fidelity (WiFi): the popular term for the 802.11b wireless Ethernet standard.
Wireless Internet: A feature found on some wireless phones that enables a user to connect to the internet without any attachments and without having to plug the phone into any device. Internet browsing capability is built directly into these types of devices.
Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): Using radio frequency (RF) technology, WLANs transmit and receive data wirelessly in a certain area. This allows users in a small zone to transmit data and share resources, such as printers, without physically connecting each computer with cords or wires.
Wireless Local Loop (WLL): WLL is a system that connects wireless users to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) using wireless technology and other circuitry to complete the "last mile" between the wireless user and the exchange equipment. Wireless systems can often be installed faster and cheaper than traditional wired systems.
Wireless Private Branch Exchange (PBX): Equipment that allows employees or customers within a building or limited area to use wireless devices in place of traditional landline phones.