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Broadband Glossary

There is so much jargon associated with broadband Internet access that it can sometimes seem a little daunting. To help you understand your bits from your bytes and your cookies from your phish we have broken down the most commonly used broadband jargon.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)

An Internet access system that provides a connection that is significantly faster than dial-up, but not as fast as fibre optic systems. The connection is described as asymmetric as the download speed is higher than the upload speed.

Anti-Virus Software

A computer programme employed to protect a computer or network from malicious computer programmes. Examples include McAfee & AVG.

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)

A policy that forms part of the terms and conditions of an ISP’s contract. It is used to prevent their service being used for unlawful or illegal activities and to ensure an even provision of service for all of its subscribers.

Bandwidth

The rate of data transfer across a digital network. A broad bandwidth allows more data to be received in any given amount of time than a narrow bandwidth service.

Bit

The most basic unit of information in a computer system, equivalent to one eighth of a byte.

Bookmarks / Favorites

A folder of shortcuts to specific Internet sites that a computer user compiles to speed up subsequent browsing sessions. The terminology used depends upon which browser a user has installed.

Byte

A unit of measurement used to describe a quantity of digital information. Equivalent to eight Bits.

Broadband

A term used to describe high-speed Internet services that allow download speeds typically greater than 256bps (bits per second). Modern broadband connections offered by ISPs range in speed from 1 – 100 Mbps.

Browser (Web Browser)

A piece of computer software that translates HTML/XHTML etc. documents into a format that can be displayed on a computer monitor. The most popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox & Safari although there are countless others.

Cache

A collection of recently visited web pages that is stored on your computer, used to speed up the browsing experience. Also sometimes called ‘Temporary Internet Files’.

Cookie

A small text file stored on a computer used to record activity on a given site. Many sites will create a cookie file to save a user’s preferences to allow for a more personalised experience when they return to the site. Cookies are especially popular with online retail sites.

Digital Vault

An online storage system often offered as part of a broadband subscription. Digital vaults allow you somewhere to store photos and other files online either as a means of backing up your important data and/or for sharing it with others.

DNS (The Domain Name System)

A system that translates Internet domain names into IP numbers. A "DNS Server" is a server that performs this kind of translation.

Domain Name

The text label attached to a domain, e.g. Amazon. The domain name will always be followed by a top level domain identifier such as .com.

Download

To access data from an exterior computer, service or website and create a copy of that data on your computer, such as when a song is purchased from iTunes.

Dynamic IP Address

An IP address that changes every time that you connect to the Internet. Most broadband packages offered by UK ISPs will service a user with dynamic IP address unless specifically stated in the terms & conditions.

Email

Literally ‘electronic mail’, email is the preferred method of communication between individuals online. A (usually) text only message is created on one machine and then transmitted across the internet to the recipient’s computer via an email service.

Fair Usage Policy

Most broadband deals offered by UK providers, especially those with high or unlimited download allowances, are still subject to a fair usage policy. The intention is to stop users from putting such a strain on the network so as to reduce the experience of other subscribers.

Fibre Optic

The technology behind the fastest broadband services. Traditionally telecommunications services (including internet access) were all carried over expensive copper wires that transmits information at relatively low speeds. Fibre optic technology uses pulses of light carried along glass fibre wires at a much faster rate. The fastest fibre optic broadband in the UK now offers connection speeds of up to 100Mbps compared to up to 20Mbps for traditional copper-wire based broadband.

Fibre To The Cabinet

A type of broadband service that delivers a very fast connection to a localised redistribution node (cabinet). The connection usually then suffers a reduction in speed as it is passed onto local homes along traditional copper wires.

Firefox

A free, open-source web browser developed by Mozilla. Firefox is increasingly popular amongst broadband users. One of the main benefits of Firefox is its extensive range of useful add-ons that add further, customisable tools to improve the online experience.

Firewall

A piece of software that stops unauthorised external access to a computer or network of computers. The use of Firewall software and an anti-virus programme are considered essential for safe Internet browsing.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

A system used for transferring (usually larger) files between computers. People who build their own websites will typically use FTP technology to transfer the pages of their site from their home computer to the server of their selected host.

Google Chrome

A free web browser designed and distributed by Google. Chrome use is increasing at a rapid rate across the world each month.

HTML (Hypertext Mark-Up Language)

Literally the language of the Internet. HTML works by placing ‘tags’ around text or other elements to apply specific formatting to that element. For example text between the tags & would be underlined when viewed in a browser. When an HTML file is downloaded to a computer the browser converts the document into a graphical representation of that page.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

The method by which web based documents (principally HTML pages) are transmitted across the internet.

Hub/Router

A device that enables you to receive broadband Internet services. A hub is connected to a phone line and very often rebroadcasts the signal wirelessly around a property. These hubs/routers are usually supplied free of charge by ISPs when a subscription is ordered.

Hyperlink

An element on a webpage that can be clicked on to take the user to a different page or to a different section of the current page. Usually shortened to ‘link’.

Internet Explorer (IE)

The world’s most popular web browser. It is developed and distributed by Microsoft.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Literally a company that provides access to the Internet for users. The biggest ISPs in the UK are BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media & Sky.

LLU (Local Loop Unbundling)

A scheme whereby third party ISPs are allowed access to the hardware within telephone exchanges so that they may offer Internet services to consumers.

Mbps (Mega Bits Per Second)

The standard measurement used to define the speed of data transfer across the Internet. 1MB is equal to 1,000,000 bits.

PDF (Portable Digital Format)

A file format that allows for the easy sharing of a document across different platforms such as between Mac users and PC users. PDFs are widely used online for the distribution of sales brochures, instruction manuals etc.

Phishing

A type of fraudulent internet activity whereby a malicious user attempts to steal another user’s personal details. Phishing scams usual target users’ login details so that the perpetrator can pass themselves of as that user for nefarious ends.

Router

See ‘Hub’.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

A simple text-based feed used to alert users to site updates.

Safari

A web browser designed primarily for use on Apple devices such as the iMac, MacBook and iPhone.

Search Engine

A website that allows users to search through an index of other websites. The most famous examples are Google, Bing & Yahoo.

Server

A type of computer that stores data that users can access remotely. All internet content is held on servers.

Spam Filter

A system employed by email service providers that attempts to sift out unwanted and/or malicious emails automatically before they appear in your inbox. Spam filters help to reduce phishing scams.

Static IP Address

An IP address that is assigned to you on a permanent basis rather than one that changes each and every time you connect to your ISP. A static IP address is particularly desirable for people who download large files such as movies or those who play X-Box or PS3 games over the internet.

Temporary Internet Files

See ‘Cache.’

Top Level Domain

The suffix of a web address such as .com, .org & .co.uk.

Upload

To transfer data (such as photos or videos) from a computer to a location on the Internet such as Flickr or YouTube.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

The standardised method for locating web pages on the internet, e.g. Cable.co.uk.

Virus

A malicious computer program. Viruses spread from network to network, infecting computers attached to those networks through email attachments or as code concealed in other downloaded files.

VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

A method for making telephone calls over the Internet instead of over traditional telephony systems. Skype is the market leader and allows users to make calls at a fraction of the cost compared to BT services, very often completely free of charge.

W3C

The international body that oversees internet standards.

Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)

The broadcasting of a broadband internet connection wirelessly around a building. As the proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices such as netbooks and the iPad continues more and more people are using Wi-Fi every day, with very few using tethered broadband services which are usually confined to the principle machine (usually a desktop PC) in the property.

Wireless Access Key

A password, usually composed of a combination of letters and numbers that is used to stop unauthorised access to a wireless network. Most broadband providers will give you a free Wi-Fi hub when subscribe along with a details of the hub’s wireless access key so that you can configure your devices to access the network.

World Wide Web (WWW)

Also known as simply The Web, the world wide web refers to the vast array of webpages stored on the internet.

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