Glossary of Terms

A - B - C - D - E - F - I - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - U - V - W - Z


- A-

Abbreviated Dialing - A telephone service feature that - a) permits the user to dial fewer digits to access a network than are required under the normal numbering plan, and; (b) is limited to a subscriber-selected set of frequently dialed numbers.  Synonym: speed dialing

Access - (1) Point at which entry is gained into a circuit or a network interconnection; may be switched or dedicated. (2) Ability to obtain data from a storage device or peripheral. (3) Type of connection between customer premises equipment (CPE) and an interexchange carrier' s network. 

Access Charge - A fee charged to subscribers or other telephone companies by a local exchange carrier for the use of its local exchange network facilities.  After the break-up of AT&T in 1982, the FCC adopted access charge rules to govern the way the local phone companies recover these costs.  Some of the costs of providing access to the "local loop" are recovered through a flat, monthly line charge - sometimes called a subscriber line charge (SLC) - that they assess directly to consumers.  The local phone companies recover the remainder of their costs attributable to the use of the "local loop" through charges they assess long distance companies.  Both of these fees, which recover the costs that local telephone companies incur in providing their facilities, are referred to as "access charges."

Access Line - (1) Circuit between a subscriber and a switching center. (2) Private lines feeding a common control switching arrangement or enhanced private switched communications service switch from a PBX. 

Access Tandem - A tandem switch that is used to interconnect between carriers for equal access. Typically, this used to interconnect ILECs with IXCs, but now also includes CLECs.

The Act- The Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) - A network functionality that permits specific conditions to be programmed into a switch which, when met, directs the switch to suspend call processing and to receive special instructions for further call handling instructions in order to enable carriers to offer advanced features and services.

Affiliate - A corporation or other entity directly or indirectly controlled by, controlling or under common control with such Party. "Control" means the power to direct the management and policies of the entity whether through the ownership of voting securities by agreement, or otherwise.

Aggregator - Any person or business who, in the normal course of business, provides a public telephone for the use of patrons through an Operator Service Provider (OSP).

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) - The standard code used for information interchange among data processing systems, data communications systems and associated equipment in the United States. ASCII code letters, numbers, punctuation and actual control systems in digital codes of "0"s and "1"s. Note 1: The ASCII character set contains 128 coded characters. Note 2: Each ASCII character is a 7-bit coded unique character; 8 bits when a parity check bit is included. Note 3: The ASCII character set consists of control characters and graphic characters. Note 4: When considered simply as a set of 128 unique bit patterns, or 256 with a parity bit, disassociated from the character equivalencies in national implementations, the ASCII may be considered as an alphabet used in machine languages. Note 5: The ASCII is the U.S. implementation of International Alphabet No. 5 (IA No. 5).

Analog - Analog is "shorthand" for the word analogous, which means "similar to." The signal being sent - voice or video - is sent as a stream of changing radio waves and is 2 similar to what is received. This produces a nearly square video picture with generally a 480 line resolution picture.

Area Code (AC) - A three digit number identifying geographic areas of the United States and Canada which permits direct distance dialing on the telephone system. A similar global numbering plan has been established for international subscriber dialing. Synonym: Numbering Plan Area (NPA).

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) - A digital line that uses the existing twisted pair copper telephone network to achieve speeds of up to 6 megabits per second up to 12000 feet, or 1.5 megabits per second up to 18000 feet.

Asymmetrical - Providing differing bandwidth in different directions. 56K modems are asymmetrical; they offer a maximum speed of 56K for downloading, but only 28.8 K or 33.6K for uploading.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) - An advanced technology that transports data in packet form.

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) - Device that handles heavy incoming call volume. It sends a call to the first available answering position or, if all positions are busy, plays a recorded message and puts calls in a queue until an answering position becomes available.

Automatic Location Identification (ALI) - A technology advanced by the FCC to help identify and locate the source of emergency 911 calls made from mobile phones. See E911

Automatic Number Identification (ANI) - A service feature in which the directory number or equipment number of a calling station is automatically obtained. Note: ANI is used in message accounting.

Automatic Route Selection - Electronic or mechanical selection and routing of outgoing calls without human intervention.

Return to top of page-



Backbone - The portion of a network that carries mass traffic between smaller networks. (Think of the backbone as an interstate highway system that connects smaller roads.)

Back-haul - (1) Routing of a call that appears to take an illogical path through a communications network. (2) Link between customer premises equipment (CPE) and multiplexing equipment. (3) Link between aground satellite or submarine cable terminal and a switching center.

Bandwidth - A range of frequencies in the broadcast spectrum that is occupied by a signal. (For example, a television channel may have a bandwidth of 6 MHz.) The "necessary bandwidth" is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.

Baud - A measure of the speed at which data is transmitted, computed in number of elements changed per second. The "Baud Rate" is the speed in which a computer can transfer data through a modem using communications software.

bit (Binary Information Unit or Binary Digit) - The smallest unit if digital information. A single digit number in "base-2", either a 0 or 10. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps).

Blog -A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.

Blogger -Someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger."

Blogging - The activity of updating a blog.

BOC (Bell Operating Company ) - One of the 22 local exchange telephone companies that prior to theJan. 1, 1984 breakup of the Bell System comprised the arm of AT&T providing local telephone services. BOCs provide about 80% of the nation's local exchange telephone subscribers with service.  (See RBOC)

bps - Bits per second. See Bit

BRI (Basic Rate Interface) - A consumer grade ISDN line consisting of 2 64 K bearer channels and one 16K delta (controller) channel.

Broadband - Broadband is a descriptive term for evolving digital technologies offering consumers a single switched facility offering integrated access to voice, high speed data services, video demand services and interactive information delivery services. Broadband also is used to define an analog transmission technique for data or video that provides multiple channels. A cable TV system, for example, employs analog broadband transmission.

Browser -  A software program used to query, search and view information on computer sites connected to the Internet

Byte - A set of "bits" that represent a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a Byte.

-Return to top of page



Cable Television Providers (CATV) - Television distribution system in which station signals, picked up by elevated antennas, are delivered by cable to subscriber's receivers.

CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) - Enacted in October 1994, CALEA is a law defining the statutory obligation of telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance.

Call -1. In communications, any demand to set up a connection. 2. A unit of traffic measurement. 3. The actions performed by a call originator. 4. The operations required to establish, maintain, and release a connection. 5. To use a connection between two stations.

Call Forwarding -A service feature, available in some switching systems, whereby calls can be rerouted automatically from one line, i.e., station number, to another or to an attendant. Note: Call forwarding may be implemented in many forms.

Call Waiting -  In telephony, a service feature that provides an indication to a terminal already engaged in an established call that one or more calls are awaiting connection.

Caller ID - A network service feature that permits the recipient of an incoming call to determine, even before answering, the number from which the incoming call is being placed.

CALLS  - Coalition for Affordable Local and Long Distance Services - Industry coalition that put forth the proposal for the Commission to consider.  Members include AT&T, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Verizon, SBC, and Sprint.  They represent four of the five largest local exchange companies and two of the three largest long distance companies.

Carterphone -Carterphone was a company in the telephone-patch business - tying the earphone of the telephone to the microphone of a business band radio in order to provide telephone services to offshore oil rigs.  AT&T sued Carterphone, alleging an 'incompatible' connection to the telephone system.  AT&T lost on appeal, leading to the situation today where you can buy a telephone instrument at the local drugstore, take it home and plug it into the jack on the wall.

CDMA (code division multiple access) -A digital cellular technology that uses spread-spectrum techniques. Unlike competing systems, such as GSM, that use time-division multiplexing (TDM), CDMA does not assign a specific frequency to each user. Instead, every voice channel uses the full available spectrum. Individual conversations are encoded with a pseudo-random digital sequence

Cell Site - Also called base station, is the central radio transmitter/receiver that maintains communications with a mobile telephone with a given range. A cellular network is made up of many cell sites, all connected back to the mobile telephone switching office (MTSO) via landline or microwave.

Cellular Mobile Radio Telephone System (CMRTS) - "Cellular" service.  A high capacity land mobile telephone system wherein channels assigned to the system are divided among several geographical "cells" covering a defined service area.  A cellular system is capable of re-using the same channels in different cells within the service area.  The use of many small cells in an area, with low transmitter powers, permits the intensive re-use of channels, thereby increasing system capacity

Cellular Technology -  This term, typically used for all cellular phones regardless of the technology use, derives from cellular base stations that receive and transmit calls. Both cellular and personal communications service (PCS) phones use cellular technology.

Central Office (CO) - A common carrier switching center in which trunks and loops are terminated and switched.  Synonyms exchange, local central office, local exchange, local office, switching center, switching exchange, telephone exchange.

Centrex (CTX) -  A service offered by Bell Operating Companies that provides functions and features comparable to those provided by a PBX. Note: "Centrex ® C.O." indicates that all equipment except the attendant's position and station equipment is located in the central office (CO). "Centrex ® C.U." indicates that all equipment, including the dial switching equipment, is located on the customer's premises.

Channel - (1) The smallest subdivision of a circuit or transmission system by which a single type of communication service is provided (e.g., a voice or data channel). (2) Communications path via a carrier or microwave radio. (3) In data communications, a path for electrical transmission between two or more points. Synonyms: circuit, facility, line, link or path.

Churn - A term used to describe the turnover rate of subscribers to a service, product or provider.

Circuit - 1. The complete path between two terminals over which one-way or two-way communications may be provided. 2. An electronic path between two or more points, capable of providing a number of channels. 3. A number of conductors connected together for the purpose of carrying an electrical current. 4. An electronic closed-loop path among two or more points used for signal transfer  5. A number of electrical components, such as resistors, inductances, capacitors, transistors, and power sources connected together in one or more closed loops.

Circuit Switching - (1) Method of communications where an electrical connection between calling and called stations is established on demand for exclusive use of the circuit until the connection is released. (2) Switching system that completes a dedicated transmission path from sender to receiver at the time of transmission. 

Class of Service - A sub-grouping of telephone users for the purpose of rate distinction. Note: Examples of class of service sub-grouping include distinguishing between (a) individual and party lines, (b) Government and non-Government lines, (c) those permitted to make unrestricted international dialed calls and those not so permitted, (d) business, residence, and coin-operated, (e) flat rate and message rate, and (f) restricted and extended area service.

Collocation - The placement of competitors' equipment on telephone company premises so that they may interconnect directly with the local telephone exchange.

Common Carrier - The term used to describe a telephone company. It is a telecommunications company that is available for hire on a non-discriminatory basis to provide communication transmission services, such as telephone and telegraph, to the public.

Common Language Location Identifier Codes (CLLI) - A CLLI code is an 11-character standardized geographic identifier that uniquely identifies the geographic location of places and certain functional categories of equipment unique to the telecommunications industry.

Communications Act of 1934 - The first communications legislation that established the FCC to regulate interstate and foreign communications by wire or radio. It sets forth the duties and responsibilities of common carriers engaged in wire and radio communications, all of which are subject to FCC regulation. This act also established the principle of universal service.

Communications Assistant (CA) - A person who translates conversation from text to voice and voice to text between two end users of the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). This service allows a person with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with anyone else via telephone at no additional costs.

Competitive Access Providers (CAPS) - Common carriers which provide local service and compete against local telephone companies' access services that connect customers to long distance companies. These carriers often use fiber optic networks.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) - A communications company that provides or is seeking to provide local telephone service in competition with the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC). Generally classified as a "facilities-based carrier" (if they offer service using their own network infrastructure), or as a "reseller" (if they offer service through resale of unbundled ILEC service elements). Note: Also known as a NEC - New Entrant Carrier 

Convergence - In this context, convergence means that providers of communications systems can deliver products and services that compete with the products and services now delivered by othernetworks. One example would be a cable company providing local phone service or a local phone company providing video services.

Cramming - Cramming is the illegal practice of adding charges to consumers' phone bills for products or services without proper authorization from the customer.

Crosstalk - A term used to describe a situation which occurs when a receiver on one communications channel inadvertently receives information being sent by a neighboring communications channel - may be either radio or wireline.

Custom Local Area Signaling Service (CLASS) - A grouping of optional enhancements to basic local exchange service that offers special call handling features to residential and single-line business customers (e.g. call waiting, call forwarding and automatic redial).

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) - Telephone terminal devices, such as handsets and private branch exchanges (PBXs), located on the customer's premises.

Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) -  Any information about the specific service agreement provided to the customer by their telephone company; any specific information about the customer's usage of their telephone service; and, any trade secrets, marketing data or other information of a proprietary nature supplied to a telephone company by its customers to facilitate provisioning the customer's telephone service.


-Return to top of page-



Dark Fiber - Dark fiber is optical fiber infrastructure (cabling and repeaters) that is currently in place but is not being used. Optical fiber conveys information in the form of light pulses so the "dark" means no light pulses are being sent. For example, some electric utilities have installed optical fiber cable where they already have power lines installed in the expectation that they can lease the infrastructure to telephone or cable TV companies or use it to interconnect their own offices. To the extent that these installations are unused, they are described as dark. "Dark fiber service" is service provided by local exchange carriers for the maintenance of optical fiber transmission capacity between customer locations in which the light for the fiber is provided by the customer rather than the LEC.

Dedicated Access - Connection between a customer' s premises and a long distance carrier. All transmissions on this dedicated line are automatically routed to the carrier. Provided by a local phone company, alternate access provider or long distance carrier.

Dedicated Line - A communications circuit or channel provided for the exclusive use of a particular subscriber. Dedicated lines are used for computers when large amounts of data need to be moved between points.

Dialing Parity - Equal dialing access provided to consumers. No additional codes or numbers are necessary to access a different telephone service provider.

Digital/Digitized - Any type of information that can be output, transmitted and interpreted as individual bits of binary information (the use of the numbers 0 and 1), 6 using electrical or electromagnetic signals that can be modulated to convey their specific content. A TV picture will be more like a rectangle and have up to 1,080 lines of resolution, producing a crisper picture.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): In Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN), equipment that provides full-duplex service on a single twisted metallic pair at a rate sufficient to support ISDN basic access and additional framing, timing recovery and operational functions. Note: The physical termination of the DSL at the Network end is the Line termination; the physical termination at the Customer end is the Network termination.

Direct Inward Dialing (DID) - A service offered by telephone companies which allows the last 3 or 4 digits of a phone number to be transmitted to the destination exchange.

Divestiture - On Jan. 8, 1982, AT&T signed a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. It stipulated as ofJan. 1, 1984, AT&T would divest itself of its 22 telephone operating companies which were formed into seven regional holding companies of roughly equal size. The FCC decision mandated that Bell Operating Companies (BOCs) provide all long distance carriers access arrangements equal in type, quality and price to the access provided AT&T.

Drop - (1) Portion of an outside telephone plant which extends from the telephone distribution cable to the subscriber' s premises. (2) Connection point for a terminal to a line.

DS0 - A single voice-grade 64 Kbps circuit.

DS1 - A high-speed line capable of delivering 1.54 Mbps (1540K) in both directions, and divided into 24 data-bearing channels.

DS1C - A high-speed line capable of delivering 3.14 Mbps (3150K) in both directions.

DS2 - A high-speed line capable of delivering 6.31 Mbps (6310K) in both directions.

DS3 - A high-speed line capable of delivering 44.7 Mbps (447000K) in both directions.

-Return to top of page-



E911 Service - A method of routing 911 calls to a PSAP that uses customer location data in the ALI/DMS to determine the PSAP to which a call should be routed. See PSAP

En Banc - An informal meeting held by the FCC to hear presentations on specific topics by diverse parties. The Commissioners, or other officials, question presenters and use their comments in considering FCC rules and policies on the subject matter under consideration.

Enhanced Service Providers - A for-profit business that offers to transmit voice and data messages and simultaneously add value to the message it transmits. examples include telephone answering services, alarm/security companies and transaction processing companies. An enhanced service provider offers voice as well as data services.

Equal Access - (1) Concept made into law by the 1984 Modified Final Judgment (MFJ) that all long distance carriers must have the same access to local facilities as AT&T enjoys. (2) Arrangement whereby the BOCs provide trunk-side connections to an end office, automatic number identification (ANI), answer supervision, dial pulse or DTMF signal recognition. (3) Process that permits customers to subscribe to the long distance carrier of their choice.

Ex Parte - Any communication addressing the merits or outcome of a particular proceeding made to decision-making personnel, which, if written is not served on the parties to the proceeding or if oral, is made without opportunity for the parties to the proceeding to be present. In Ohio, a letter must be docketed to give a brief overview of the subjects discussed with the Commission.

Exchange - (1) A room or building equipped so that telephone lines terminating there may be interconnected as required. Note: The equipment may include manual or automatic switching equipment. (2) In the telephone industry, a geographic area (such as a city and its environs) established by a regulated telephone company for the provision of local telephone services. (3) In the Modification and Final Judgement (MFJ) a local access and transport area (LATA).

Exchange Area: A geographic area served by one or more central offices within which local telephone service is furnished under regulation.

Exchange Message Record System (EMR) - Method used among LECs for exchanging telecommunications message information for billable, non-billable, sample, settlement and study data.

Extended Area Service (EAS) - Extended Area Service (EAS) adds exchanges to the area customers can call on a toll-free basis or reduced rate basis in and around the community.

-Return to top of page-



4G (fourth-generation wireless) - The stage of broadband mobile communications that will follow the still-burgeoning 3G. One distinction of 4G over 3G communications is increased data transmission rates, just as it is for 3G over 2G and 2.5G. 4G also is expected to provide universal access and device portability by allowing different wireless networks to interoperate.

Facility -  1. A fixed, mobile, or transportable structure, including all installed electrical and electronic wiring, cabling, and equipment and all supporting structures, such as utility, ground network, and electrical supporting structures. 2. A network-provided service to users or the network operating administration. 3. A transmission pathway and associated equipment. 4. A real property entity consisting of one or more of the following: a building, a structure, a utility system, pavement, and underlying land.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) -  The U.S. Government board of five presidential appointees that has the authority to regulate all non-Federal Government interstate telecommunications (including radio and television broadcasting) as well as all international communications that originate or terminate in the United States. Note: Similar authority for regulation of Federal Government telecommunications is vested in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - An independent federal agency with more than 2,600 full time employees. They work at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., at regional and area offices across the country, at the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center and at the FEMA training center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. FEMA also has nearly 4,000 standby disaster assistance employees who are available to help out after disasters. Often FEMA works in partnership with other organizations that are part of the nation's emergency management system. These partners include state and local emergency management agencies, 27 federal agencies and American Red Cross.

Federal-State Joint Board -  An ad hoc advisory panel established by the FCC and composed of commissioners representing state and federal jurisdictions.

Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) -A set of ANSI protocols for sending digital data over fiber optic cable. FDDI networks are token-passing networks, and support data rates of up to 100 Mbps (100 million bits) per second. FDDI networks are typically used as backbones for wide-area networks.

Fiber Optics - A method for the transmission of information (sound, video, data) in which light is modulated and transmitted over high-purity, hair-thin filaments of glass. The bandwidth capacity of fiber optic cable is much greater than that of copper wire.

Flat Rate Service - A method of pricing in which a fixed rate is charged for a given services, regardless of usage. Example: The fixed monthly charge which a residential subscriber in a local exchange pays to be allowed to make an unlimited number of local calls.

Footprint - The area in which a specific transmission can be received. Some footprints cover as much as one-third of the earth, such a satellite or cell systems.

Frame Relay - Form of packet switching that employs statistical multiplexing over a shared network, intended for use between intelligent end-points and implemented over high-quality transmission facilities that connect programmable switches. The end-points are responsible for end-to-end integrity.

Frequency - A measurement of the number of electromagnetic waves that pass a given point in a given time period. Equal to the speed of light divided by wavelengths, and expressed in Hertz (cycles per second).

-Return to top of page-




Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) - Originally, the companies franchised under the auspices of the state Public Utilities Commission as the sole provider of local telephone service within a specific geographic area. This includes both Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) and independent telephone companies, such as ALLTEL, CenturyTel, Cincinnati Bell, Horizon Telcom, Sprint, Verizon and hundreds of others. This terminology distinguishes these companies from competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs).

Independent Carrier - A telephone company not affiliated with one of the large or "Bell" telephone companies. Numbering about 1,400 nationwide - these Companies serve more than half of the geographic area of the United States, but only around 15% of its telephones.

Independent Payphone Provider (IPP)- Alternative providers of coin-operated telephone service. In Ohio, may be known as COCOTS (Customer Owned Coin-Operated Telephone Service).

Inside  Wire - Customer-owned telephone wiring either metallic or optical-fiber. For a residence, the wiring usually starts where the line enters the house and is called the demarcation line. For businesses, the location of the demarcation point varies.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - A technical professional association, composed of engineers, scientists, and students. The IEEE fosters the development of standards that often become national and international standards. In particular, the IEEE 802 standards for local area networks are widely followed.

Instant Messaging (IM) - A service that enables users to see whether a specific user is connected to the Internet and, if they are, to exchange messages with them. Users must be online at the same time and subscribers of the same service. Messages, which appear in a pop-up box on the user's screen, are easier and more immediate than traditional e-mails.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) - Switched network providing end-to-end digital connection for simultaneous transmission of voice and/or data over multiple multiplexed communication channels and employing transmission that conforms to internationally-defined standards. ISDN is considered to be the basis for a "universal network" that can support almost any type of communications device or service.

Intelligent Network (IN) - A telecommunications network architecture in which processing capabilities for call control and related functions are distributed among specialized network nodes rather than concentrated in a switching system. The SS7 network forms part of the IN infrastructure

Intelligent Peripheral (IP): 1. A functional component that may be used most efficiently when accessed locally. 2. An intelligent-network feature that provides specialized telecommunication capabilities required by IN/2 service logic programs.

Interconnection - The connection of one telecommunication carrier's network to another or the connection of a piece of telephone equipment to the nationwide telephone network.

Interexchange Carrier (IXC) - Long haul long-distance carriers. IXCs include all facilities-based inter-LATA carriers. The largest IXCs are AT&T, MCI WorldCom and Sprint; a huge number of smaller, regional companies also fit in this definition. The term generally applies to voice and data carriers, but not to Internet carriers.

Inter-LATA: 1. Between local access and transport areas (LATAs). 2. Services, revenues, and functions associated with telecommunications that originate in one LATA and that terminate in another one or that terminate outside of that LATA.

Internet - A computer network stretching across the world that links the user to businesses, government agencies, universities and individuals. The Internet provides computers with the ability to connect with other computers for communicating, disseminating and collecting information.

Internet Protocol (IP) - A network layer (Layer 3) standard for data transmission that performs the addressing function and contains some control information to allow packets to be routed through networks

Internet Protocol - IP Address - The Internet protocol address which is a 32-bit address assigned to a host. The IP address has a host component and a network component.

 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)  - Streaming TV programs over the Internet. IP TV uses streaming video to deliver scheduled TV programs via the Internet. Unlike transmitting over the air or via cable to a TV set, IP TV uses the Internet as the delivery mechanism and requires a computer and software media player to display the content. See streaming video.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) - A company that provides access to the Internet through modems, ISDN, T1' s etc. Various technologies utilized:  standard dial-up, Digital Subscriber Loop (DSL), cable modems, Wi-Fi (wireless).

Intra-LATA: Within the boundaries of a local access and transport area (LATA)


-Return to top of page-




Kilobits Per Second (Kbps) -KBps is kilobytes per second

-Return to top of page-



Landline - Traditional wired telephone service

Lifeline/Link-Up Services - Programs that help qualified low-income households afford local telephone service. Lifeline assists with monthly telephone bills, and Link-Up assists with connection and installation charges.

Local Access and Transport Area (LATA) - A contiguous local exchange area which includes every point served by a local phone company within an existing community of interest. It also serves as the dividing line for the allocation of assets and liabilities between AT&T and the Bell Operating Companies. LATAs were established by the Department of Justice as a result of the AT&T divestiture in 1983.

Local Area Network (LAN) - A data communications system that (a) lies within a limited spatial area, (b) has a specific user group, (c) has a specific topology, and (d) is not a public switched telecommunications network, but may be connected to one. Note 1: LANs are usually restricted to relatively small areas, such as rooms, buildings, ships and aircraft. Note 2: An interconnection of LANs within a limited geographical area, such as a military base, is commonly referred to as a campus area network. An interconnection of LANs over a city-wide geographical area is commonly called a metropolitan area network (MAN). An interconnection of LANs over large geographical areas, such as nationwide, is commonly called a wide area network (WAN). Note 3: LANs are not subject to public telecommunications regulations.

Local Call -  1. Any call using a single switching facility. Any call for which an additional charge, i.e., toll charge, is not made to the calling or called party.

Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) - Any facilities-based and non-facilities-based ILEC and CLEC that provides basic local exchange services to consumers on a common carrier basis.

Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG) - Maintained by Telcordia (formerly BellCore) and is associated with the North American Number Plan (NANP). It tracks NPA/NXX assignments with appropriate switch routing.

Local Loop - The copper/fiber wires running between the telephone subscriber' s home or business and the phone company switch.

Local MultipointDistribution Services (LMDS) - This is a point/multipoint service with two-way capability to transmit voice, data and other video information. LMDS can offer innovative consumer services such as two-way interactive video, advanced teleconferencing, telemedicine, telecommuting and high-speed data services.

Local Number Portability (LNP)- The ability of users of telecommunications services to retain, at the same location, existing telecommunications numbers without impairment of quality, reliability or convenience when switching from one telecommunications carrier to another.

Long Run Service Incremental Cost (LRSIC) - Long-run service incremental cost (LRSIC) represents the forward-looking economic cost for a new or existing product that is equal to the per unit cost of increasing the volume of production from zero to a specified level, while holding all other product and service volumes constant. LRSIC does not include any allocation of forward-looking common overhead costs. Forward-looking common overhead costs are costs efficiently incurred for the benefit of a firm as a whole and are not avoided if individual services or categories of services are discontinued. Further, where appropriate, forward-looking joint costs, which are the forward-looking cost of resources necessary and used to provide a group or family of services shall be added to or included in the LRSIC of the product or service.

Local Service Provider (LSP) - A term intended to encompass all companies providing dial tone to end users.

-Return to top of page-



Main Distribution Frame (MDF): A distribution frame on one part of which the external trunk cables entering a facility terminate, and on another part of which the internal user subscriber lines and trunk cabling to any intermediate distribution frames terminate. Note 1: The MDF is used to cross-connect any outside line with any desired terminal of the multiple cabling or any other outside line. Note 2: The MDF usually holds central office protective devices and functions as a test point between a line and the office. Note 3: The MDF in a private exchange performs functions similar to those performed by the MDF in a central office. Synonym:  Main Frame

Measured Local Rate Service - Service for which charges are made in accordance with the total connection time of the call.

Meet Point Billing - A billing arrangement that applies when end-to-end service is not wholly within the local exchange boundaries of a single telephone company.

Megabits Per Second (Mbps) - MBps would be Megabytes per second.

MECAB - The Multiple Exchange Carrier Access Billing (MECAB) document prepared under the direction of the Billing Committee of the OBF which functions under the auspices of the Carrier Liaison Committee of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions.

Message Rate Service - Service which has a given number of messages is allotted monthly. Calls (messages) exceeding this fixed number are charged on a per message basis. Rates are company specific.

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA )One of the 305 urban cellular telephone service areas as defined by the FCC. When the FCC began issuing cellular radio licenses, it divided the United States into RSA and MSA markets.

Microwave Band - Those frequencies from about I gigahertz upward that use microwave frequencies for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint communications, including common carriers, cable TV operators, broadcasters and private operational fixed users.

Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO):  The central computer that connects a wireless phone call to the public telephone network. The MTSO controls the entire system's operations, including monitoring calls, billing and handoffs.

Modem - An abbreviated term for "modulator-demodulator." A modem converts digital signals into analog signals (and vice versa), enabling computers to send and receive data over the telephone networks.

Modification of Final Judgment (MFJ) - The 1982 consent decree which, as of 1/1/84, broke up the Bell System into AT&T and the seven RBOCs. Also known as "divestiture;" technically a "modification" of the consent decree entered against Western Electric and AT&T in 1956.

Modulation - Converting digital signals into analog signals.

Multi-Association Group - The Multi-Association Group, consisting of the National Rural Telecom Associatoin (NRTA), the National Telephone Cooperative Association (NTCA), the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) and the United State Telecom Association (USTA), was formed to respond to the needs of the small and mid-sized LECs that serve U.S. rural and insular areas. This group filed a plan with the Federal Communications Commission to improve the Commission's access charge and universal support systems, as well as to enforce the geographic averaging requirements of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the "Act"). The plan addresses regulation of those incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) that are not subject to price cap regulation.

Multiplex - (1) To interleave or simultaneously transmit two or more messages on a single channel. (2) Communications arrangement where multiple devices share a common transmission channel, though only one may transmit at a time. (3) Process or equipment that combines data from two or more individual circuits onto a higher-speed circuit for transmission. Two methods are used: frequency division where all channels are transmitted at the same time, or time division where several messages timeshare a channel.

-Return to top of page-



911 Service - A universal telephone number which gives the public direct access to the PSAP. Basic 911 service collects 911 calls from one or more local exchange switches that serve a geographic area. The calls are then sent to the correct authority designated to receive such calls

Narrowband - A term applied to telecommunications facilities capable of carrying only voice, facsimile images, slow-scan video images and data transmissions at "kilobit" speeds. The term is commonly applied to voice-grade analog facilities and to digital facilities operating at low speeds (less than 1.544 Nbps).

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) -  An association of state and local utility commissioners who regulate intrastate utility services such as electric, power, gas, transportation and telephone.

National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) -  NECA was established by the FCC to act as an association for LECs. NECA prepares common tariffs and administers the revenue pool among its members for access provided to interexchange long-distance carriers

National Emergency Number Association (NENA) - A national association to foster the technological advancement, availability and implementation of a universal emergency telephone number system. NENA promotes research, planning, training and 12 education. The protection of human life, the preservation of property and the maintenance of general community security are among NENA's objectives.

Nationwide/Statewide Cost Averaging - A method of averaging costs to establish uniform prices for telephone service so that subscribers using more costly-to-serve, lightly-trafficked routes - such as those between small communities - receive the same price as subscribers on lower-cost, highly-trafficked metropolitan routes.

Network - A combination of transmission facilities and switching capacity which allows users to communicate with other users of linked facilities. Examples: local exchange telephone networks, cellular wireless networks, cable television networks, CAP networks, and private facility-based networks.

Network Element - As defined in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a facility or equipment used in provisioning a telecommunications service. The term may include the features, functions and capabilities of that facility or equipment

Network Interface Device (NID) - (1) A device that performs interface functions, such as code and protocol conversion, and buffering, required for communications to and from a network. (2) A device used primarily within a local area network (LAN) to allow a number of independent devices, with varying protocols, to communicate with each other. Note 1: An NID converts each device protocol into a common transmission protocol. Note 2: The transmission protocol may be chosen to accommodate directly a number of the devices used within the network without the need for protocol conversion for those devices by the NID.

Network Interface Unit (NIU) - See Network Interface Device (NID)

New Entrant/Exchange Carrier(NEC) - See CLEC

North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) - The impartial administrator of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP).

North American Numbering Plan (NANP) -The numbering plan used in the United States that also serves Canada, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and certain Caribbean Islands. The NANP format is a 10 digit number that consists of a 3 digit NPA code (commonly referred to as the area code), followed by a 3 digit NXX code and a 4 digit line number.

Notice of Inquiry (NOI) - FCC term - a NOI is adopted by the FCC Commissioners primarily for fact gathering, a way to seek comments from the public or industry on a specific issue. After reviewing comments from an NOI, the FCC may issue a Notice or Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), or it may release a Report & Order (ROI) explaining what action or non-action is taken.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) - FCC term - a NPRM is adopted by the FCC Commissioners to detail proposed changes to FCC rules and to seek public comment on these proposals. After reviewing the comments to the NPRM, the FCC may issue a Further NPRM to provide an opportunity for the public to comment further on a related proposal. The next step is a Report & Order (ROI).

Numbering Plan Area - A defined geographic area identified by a unique three-digit code used in the North American Number Plan (NANP) Area. Note 1: Defined geographic area could mean the entire area encompassed by the North American Numbering Plan Area (for 800, 888, 877 codes, etc.). Note 2: By virtue of the overlay concept deployed in some states, there may be two (or more) NPAs assigned to the same defined geographic area.

Number Portability - Number portability is the term used to describe capability of individuals, businesses and organizations to retain their existing telephone number(s) - and the same quality of service - when switching to a new local service provider.

NXX - The three digit code which appears as the first three digits of a seven digit telephone number.

-Return to top of page-



OC-3 - A fiber optic line capable of 155 megabits per second (155,000K).

OC-48 - A fiber optic line capable of 2400 megabits per second (2,400,000K).

Open Network Architecture (ONA)   -  An overall design of a regulated common carrier's basic network facilities and basic services that permits all vendors of basic or enhanced services (including the common carrier itself) to procure specific basic network functions and interfaces on an unbundled equal-access basis.

Operations Support Systems (OSS) - Generally refers to the system (or systems) that perform management, inventory, engineering, planning and repair functions for communications service providers and their networks.

Operator Service Provider (OSP) - A common carrier that provides services from public phones, including payphones and those in hotels/motels.

Originating carrier - A telecommunications carrier whose network or service is used by a customer to originate telecommunications traffic. An originating carrier may be a wireline or wireless carrier transmitting local telecommunications traffic or an interexchange carrier transmitting non-local telecommunications traffic.

-Return to top of page-


Packet - A transport mechanism that carries data through networks. (Think of packets as cars carrying passengers on a highway.)

Packet Switching - The method used to transmit data on the Internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks; each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Pair Gain System - A transmission system that uses concentrators or multiplexers so that fewer wire pairs may be used than would otherwise be required to provide service to a given number of subscribers.

 PBX - A private telephone system connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). See Private Branch Exchange

Personal Communications Services (PCS) - A term coined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it describes a two-way, voice and digital, wireless telecommunications system. PCS encompasses cordless phones, cellular mobile phone, paging systems, personal communications networks, wireless office phone systems and any other wireless telecommunications systems that allow people to place and receive voice/data calls while away from home and office.

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) - Regular analog phone service, as opposed to ISDN, ADSL and other digital phone services.

Point of Presence (POP) - A local dialing point for a network user (i.e. Internet Service Provider.)

Pole Attachment - A communications relay or receiving device attached to a pole, duct or conduit owned or controlled by a utility company.

Prescribed Interexchange Charge (PICC) - The PICC is a fee that a customer's long distance company pays to the local telephone company to help the local phone company recover the costs of providing the "local loop" to the customer.

Presubscription - Term used to describe the selection of a particular long-distance carrier to handle all calls for "1+dialing" zones.

Price Cap Regulation -  An obsolete and mostly disbanded form of regulation that places a ceiling and in some instances a floor on prices rather than attempting to assess costs and rates of return.

Primary Interexchange Carrier (PIC) - The PIC is the main long-distance carrier used for "1+dialing" through which all interstate long-distance toll calls are made.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) - (1) A subscriber-owned telecommunications exchange that usually includes access to the public switched network. (2) A switch that serves a selected group of users and that is subordinate to a switch at a higher level military establishment. (3) A private telephone switchboard that provides on-premises dial service and may provide connections to local and trunked communications networks. Note 1: A PBX operates with only a manual switchboard; a private automatic exchange (PAX) does not hava switchboard, a private automatic branch exchange may or may not have a switchboard. Note 2: Use of the term "PBX" is far more common than "PABX," regardless of automation.

Primary Rate Interface (PRI) - An industrial grade ISDN line. Consists of 23 64K bearer channels and a 64K delta (controller) channel.

Private Line Service - Dedicated telecommunications channels provided between two points or switched among multiple points. Privately leased for high-volume voice, data, audio or video transmissions.

Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) - An answering location for 911 calls originating in a given area. A PSAP may be designed as Primary or Secondary, which refers to the order in which calls are directed for answering. Primary PSAPs respond first; Secondary PSAPs receive calls on a transfer basis only, and generally serve as a centralized answering location for a particular type of emergency call. PSAP's are staffed by employees of Service Agencies such as police, fire oremergency medical agencies or by employees of a common bureau serving a group of such entities.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) - The domestic telecommunications network usually accessed by telephones, key telephone systems, private branch exchange trunks and data arrangements. Note: Completion of the circuit between the call originator and call receiver in a PSTN requires network signaling in the form of dial pulses or multi-frequency tones.

-Return to top of page-



Radio Common Carrier - Part of the domestic land mobile radio service. Signals are received and transmitted from mobile transmitters.

Rate Center - A geographically specified are used for determining mileage and/or usage dependent rates in the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Rate of Return Regulation - Rate of return regulation is analogous to a cost-plus contract. Local phone companies subject to the rate of return regulation are allowed to set rates up at an amount that recovers costs on a dollar-for dollar basis, plus a reasonable rate of return on the amounts invested. A rate of return is the specified percentage return a carrier is permitted to recover on its invested capital.

Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC) - Regional Bell operating company (RBOC) is a term describing one of the U.S. regional telephone companies (or their successors) that were created as a result of the breakup of American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T, known also as the Bell System or "Ma Bell") by a U.S. Federal Court consent decress on December 31, 1983. The seven original Bell operating companies were Ameritech (SBC), Bell Atlantic (Verizon), Bell South, NYNEX (Verizon), Pacific Bell (SBC), Southwestern Bell (SBC) and US WEST.

Repeaters - In telecommunication networks, a repeater is a device that receives a signal on an electromagnetic or optical transmission medium, amplifies the signal, and then retransmits it along the next leg of the medium. Repeaters overcome the attenuation caused by free-space electromagnetic-field divergence or cable loss. A series of repeaters make possible the extension of a signal over a distance. Repeaters are used to interconnect segments in a local area network (LAN). They're also used to amplify and extend wide area network transmission on wire and wireless media. Because digital signals depend on the presence or absence of voltage, they tend to dissipate more quickly than analog signals and need more frequent repeating. Whereas analog signal amplifiers are spaced at 18,000 meter intervals, digital signal repeaters are typically placed at 2,000 to 6,000 meter intervals.

Report & Order (R&O) - An FCC term - the FCC, after considering comments and reply comments to Notices of Inquiries (NOI) or Notices of Proposed Rule Makings (NPRM), may issue a Report & Order (ROI) amending the rules or deciding not to do so. Summaries of the R&Os are published on the Federal Register. Issuance of an R&O triggers a 30-day period for petitions for reconsideration.

Resale - Sale of telecommunications services purchased from another carrier.

Resale Carrier/Reseller - A carrier that does not own transmission facilities, but obtains communications services from another carrier for resale to the public for a profit.

Right of Way - The surface of, and the space within, through, on, across, above, or below any public street, road, highway, freeway, lane, path, alley, court, sidewalk, boulevard, parkway, or drive and any other land dedicated or otherwise Designated for a compatible public use, which, on or after the bill' s effective date, is owned or controlled by a municipal corporation. It excludes a private easement.

Router - Equipment used by service providers to "route" or direct packets over the Internet.  Also used in provision of Digital Subscriber Loop Service (DSL).

-Return to top of page-



Sharing -  A temporary safety mechanism designed to protect customers from the over-or under-estimation of the productivity offset at the initial establishment of the price cap plan. This mechanism would require the utility to refund a portion of its earnings to customers if it achieved a predefined level of success.

Signaling System 7 (SS7) - The current international signaling standard for all digital exchanges with integrated services. The SS7 network allows call control and transaction messages from the integrated voice and data network to be transferred on communications paths that are separate from the voice and data connections. It delivers out-of-band signaling that provides fast call setup by means of high-speed, circuit-switched connections and transaction capabilities which deal with remote database interactions. SS7 also plays an integral role in the deployment of ISDN. The SS7 protocol consists of four basic sub-protocols:

  • Message Transfer Protocol (MTP) - Provides functions for basic routing of signaling messages between signaling points.
  • Signaling Connection Control Part (SCCP) - Provides additional routing and management functions for transfer of messages other than call setup between signaling points.
  • Integrated Services Digital Network User Part (ISUP) - Provides for transfer of call setup signaling information between signaling points.
  • Transaction Capabilities Application Part (TCAP) - Provides for transfer of non-circuit related information between signaling points.

Slamming - The term used to describe what occurs when a customer's long-distance service is switched from one long-distance company to another company without the 16 customer's permission. Such unauthorized switching violates Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.

Softswitch - As defined by the International Softswitch Consortium, a softswitch (call agent, caller server or media gateway controller) is a device that provides, at a minimum:

  • Intelligence that controls connection services for a media gateway, and/or native IP endpoints.
  • The ability to select processes that can be applied to a call.
  • Routing for a call within the network based on signaling and customer database information.
  • The ability to transfer control of the call to another network element.
  • Management functions such as provisioning, fault, billing, etc.

SONET - See Synchronous Optical Network.

Special Access Service - A transmission path directly connecting an Interexchange Carrier location in a LATA to an end user premise or another Interexchange Carrier location.

Streaming Video - A one-way video transmission over a data network. It is widely used on the Web as well as private intranets to deliver video on demand or a video broadcast. Unlike movie files (MPG, AVI, etc.) that are played after they are downloaded, streaming video is played within a few seconds of requesting it, and the data is not stored permanently in the computer.

Subscriber Line Charge (SLC) - A monthly fee paid by telephone subscribers that is used to compensate the local telephone company for part of the cost of installation and maintenance of the telephone wire, poles, and other facilities that link your home to the telephone network. These wires, poles, and other facilities are referred to as the "local loop." The SLC is one component of access charges.

Switch - Central Office Switch (or Switch) - The telephone company facility that connects subscribers to each other, locally and long distance.

Switched Access - (1) Method to test telecommunications circuits using electromechanical circuitry. (2) Calls transmitted partially on shared or common transport circuits. Used primarily by residential or small business companies using regular home or business lines.

Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) - Broadband networking standard in the United States.

-Return to top of page-


3G (Third-generation wireless) -  The third-generation wireless communication systems follows the development of the first generation (analog) and second generation (digital) cellular telephone services, and support much higher data rates, measured in Mbps, intended for both voice and data applications. To do so, 3G uses wider band air interface technologies and adds packet-switching capabilities to the network.

T-1 Carrier - A dedicated phone connection supporting data rates of 1.544Mbits per second. A T-1 line actually consists of 24 individual channels, each of which supports 64Kbits per second. Each 64Kbit/second channel can be configured to carry voice or data traffic. Most telephone companies allow you to buy just some of these individual channels, known as fractional T-1 access. T-1 lines are a popular leased line option for businesses connecting to the Internet and for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connecting to the Internet backbone.. The Internet backbone itself consists of faster T-3 connections. T-1 lines are sometimes referred to as DS1 lines.

T-3 Carrier - A dedicated phone connection, supporting data rates of about 43 Mbpx. A T-3 line actually consists of 672 individual channels, each of which supports 64 Kbps. T-3 lines are used mainly by Internet Service Providers ISPs connecting to the Internet backbone and for the backbone itself. T-3 lines are sometimes referred to as DS3 lines.

Tandem Network - An arrangement of voice switches that enables calls to be routed through two or more switching centers in tandem fashion, such that each end office switch does not need to be directly connected to each other.

Tandem Switch - A voice switch that is designed primarily with trunk interfaces rather than subscriber interfaces.

Tariff - A communications company' s detailed listing of services, rates, terms and conditions by which said services will be provisioned to its end users or another carrier. Both the States and the FCC have tariff filing requirements.

Telecommunications - Any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.

Telecommunications Act of 1996 - The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years. The goal of this new law is to let anyone enter any communications business -- to let any communications business compete in any market against any other.

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD/TTY) - A machine that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the phone using a keyboard and a viewing screen. It is referred to as either a TDD or a TTY.

Telephone Relay Service (TRS) - A service that enables speech and hearing-impaired callers to type a message into a telephone set equipped with a keypad and message screen and to have a live operator read the message to a recipient and to type message recipient's response to the speech or hearing-impaired caller. This service also works in reverse allowing non-hearing-impaired callers to initiate calls to Telephone Relay Service users.

Telephony - The word used to describe the science of transmitting voice over a telecommunications network.

TELRIC - Total element on-run incremental cost represents the forward-looking cost for a new or existing element.

Terminating Carrier -A telecommunications carrier upon whose network telecommunications traffic terminates to the called party.

Text Telephone (TT) - A machine that employs graphic communication in the transmission of coded signals through a wire or radio communications system. TT supersedes the term "TDD" or "telecommunications device for the deaf."

Traffic - 1. The information moved over a communication channel. 2. A quantitative measurement of the total messages and their length, expressed in CCS or other units, during a specified period of time.

Transport Services -Network switching, transmission and related services that support information transfer capabilities between originating and terminating access service facilities.

Transit Traffic - Telecommunications traffic that an originating carrier has delivered to a transiting carrier or carriers for delivery to a terminating carrier.

Transiting Carrier - A telecommunications carrier that does not originate or terminate telecommunications traffic, but either switches or transports traffic, or both, between an originating carrier and a terminating carrier.

Trunk - (1) Group of circuits that carry call traffic in and out of the switch. (2) Circuit or channel connecting two exchanges or two switching devices. (3) Circuit capable of being switched at both ends.

Twisted Pair - This is the term used to describe the traditional copper cable that is used for short-distance communications.

-Return to top of page-



UNE - Unbundled Network Elements (also known as UNE) are a requirement mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. They are the parts of the network that the ILECs are required to offer on an unbundled basis. Together, these parts make up a loop that connects to a DSLAM or a voice switch (or both). The loop allows non-facilities-based telecommunications providers to deliver service without laying network infrastructures (copper/fiber).

UNE-Platform (UNE-P) - A combination of UNEs that allow end to end service delivery without ANY facilities. Depsite not involving any CLEC facilities, it still required facilities-based certification from the PUC to deliver services via UNE-P.

Unbundling - Unbundling is the term used to describe the access provided by local exchange carriers so that other service providers may buy or lease portions of its network elements, such as interconnection loops, to serve subscribers.

Universal Service - This term describes the financial support mechanisms that constitute a universal fund which helps compensate telephone companies or other communications entities for providing access to telecommunications services at reasonable and affordable rates throughout the country including rural, insular and high cost areas, and to public institutions.

Universal Service Fund (USF) - Since telephone service provides a vital link to emergency services, to government services and to surrounding communities, it has been national policy to promote universal telephone service since the 1930's. USF makes phone service affordable to all Americans, including:

  • consumers with low incomes;
  • consumers who live in areas where the costs of providing telephone service is high;
  • schools and libraries; and,
  • rural health care providers.

Uplink -The signal that carries information from an earth station source up to a satellite.

Upload - To send a text file or software program via telecommunications to another computer (See Download).

User Name -A short name (with no spaces allowed) unique to you on your Internet access provider's system. Sometimes these are assigned and sometimes you can select your own. The user name, or ID, followed by your site address, becomes your e-mail ad-dress


-Return to top of page-



Virtual Private Network - Virtual private networks are secured private network connections, built on top of publicly-accessible infrastructure, such as the Internet or the public telephone network.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) - An industry transmission standard which supports voice communications over packet networks, such as the Internet.


Voice Mail -A service that allows a subscriber to receive messages via a voice mailbox system when an unanswered call is received on their phone or cell phone.

Voice Recognition - Machine recognition of a specific human voice.


Wavelength -The length of one complete wave of an alternating or vibrating phenomenon, generally measured from crest to crest or from trough to trough of successive waves.

Wide Area Network (WAN) - A physical or logical network that provides data communications to a larger number of independent users than are usually served by a local area network (LAN) and is usually spread over a larger geographic area than that 18 of a LAN. Note 1: WANs may include physical networks, such as Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDNs), X.25 networks, and T1 networks. Note 2: A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a WAN that serves all the users in a metropolitan area. WANs may be nationwide or worldwide.

Wide Area Telecommunications/Telephone Service (WATS) - Discount long-distance service offered to high-volume customers on a subscription basis. May be either in-bound or out-bound service.

Wi-Fi - Abbreviation for wireless fidelity.  Wi-Fi is a wireless technology similar to a cell phone. Wi-Fi enabled computers send and receive data indoors and out; anywhere within the range of a base station. 

WireCenter - A building or space within a building that serves as an aggregation point on a LEC's network, where transmission facilities and circuits are connected or switched.

Wireless Communication - Any broadcast or transmission which can be received through microwave or radio frequencies without the use of a cable connection for reception.

-Return to top of page-






*Sources: ATIS, Federal Communications Commission, Newton Is Telecom Dictionary, OPASTCO, SBC, Telecom Resellers Association, TIA, USTA, Webopedia