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Broadband Glossary

Do you know your BitTorrents from your bitrates, or your dongles from your dial-ups? Here we delve into the definitions of technical internet language, to help you traverse the wonderful world of telecoms, broadband and connectivity.

We’ve split this glossary into sections to help with navigation, but if there’s a certain phase you’re looking for, press command + F (Mac), or Ctrl + F (Windows). to search for a specific term.

Main broadband terms

Backhaul



In telecommunications, the backhaul or backbone network connects all the sub-networks around your local area to the main ‘parent’ network. In both mobile and wired networks, the backhaul element of the network is the section able to communicate with the global internet.

Bandwidth



The breadth or volume of data available in a ‘band, which describes the line you’d receive your internet connection through. The greater the bandwidth, the faster upload and download speeds you’ll receive.be able to enjoy.


Bandwidth contention ratio



Contention ratio or contention rate refers to how many households or devices are sharing a single connection. If the ratio is 15:1, it means 15 devices have access to one line.


BitTorrent



A peer-to-peer network, on which users can exchange big files and large amounts of data over the internet.


Cable broadband



Cable broadband is similar to fibre broadband, in the sense that itn delivers high speed internet to your home. However, cable connections are transferred data via coaxial cabling (see the broadband installation section), instead of copper wiring used with fibre.).


Dial-up (internet)



When the internet was young in the 1990s and early 2000s, it ran through telephone lines. Which often meant you weren’t able to use your home’s landline phone while connected to the internet. Nowadays, the internet is mostly delivered via a separate cable or wirelessly by satellite, which allows much faster speeds.


Downstream data



Downstream data refers to data that has been downloaded from the internet to your device, whereas upstream data goes ‘up’ from your device to the internet service provider (ISP, see above).


Gigabit (Gbit or Gb)



A gigabit is a unit of measure which refers to digital storage, in the same way family as megabits (Mb), megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). A gigabit is 1,000,000,000bits – one eighth the size of a gigabyte.


ISP



Internet service provider – the organisation or company which delivers internet to you, your home or your business.


Mobile broadband



Unlike the traditional broadband you have at home, which is physically connected to your router, mobile broadband is wireless. Mobile or wireless broadband often refers to tethering (see below) – using your phone’s 3G, 4G or 5G connection from a device like a laptop through a hotspot, for example.


Router



A router is a device that lets you connect your laptop or phone to the wider internet, via a Wi-Fi connection. The little box you have at home is technically called a residential gateway, but it’s more commonly referred to as a router.


Satellite broadband



Unlike the wired internet connection most homes rely on, which is transferred through a cabled and router, satellite broadband is beamed down to earth via a satellite, using a similar technology to mobile calls. This option is particularly beneficial in serving remote areas, lacking in wired connections.


Symmetrical broadband



The symmetry refers to a perfectly balanced upload and download speed. An asymmetric broadband is more common, and refers to the upload and downloads speeds being different.


Broadband speeds

ADSL



ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line, a type of technology offering an internet connection through the copper wires of your telephone line. ADSL allows faster download speeds than upload speeds, giving it its asymmetric name. Unlike dial-up internet, neither ADSL nor DSL will interrupt your telephone connection.


Bitrate



A bit is a measurement of data, and bitrate refers to the speeds atin which that data is processed. It’s most commonly measured in seconds, e.g., 100bps (100 bits per second).


Bits and bytes (b and B)



A ‘bit’ is a unit of data and comes from the combination of ‘binary’ and ‘digit’. A byte is a larger unit of data, equivalent to eight bits. Bits are abbreviated to a lowercase ‘b’, whereas bytes are recognised designated with an uppercase ‘B’.

Broadband bonding



By combing two or more broadband networks, you can achieve quicker download and upload speeds, allowing the separate connections to share the load through a bond.


DC-HSDPA and HSPA+



DC-HSDPA stands for dual cell high-speed downlink packet access, and it refers to a type of wireless internet connection. You may see H+ on Android smartphones if you don’t have access to quicker networks like 4G or 5G. H+ is quicker than 3G, but not as quick as 4G.


G.fast



G.fast, or Gfast, is a type of broadband for business, offering quicker speeds than those available with traditional FTTC (fibre to the cabinet, see below) connections. Seeing as the network technology doesn’t require full-fibre connectivity, it’s an attractive proposition to those where FTTP (fibre to the property, see below) isn’t available. G.fast technology is able tocan leapfrog the speed restrictions of FTTC copper cabling with an additional box or pod installed at the cabinet on the roadside. This little box is able tocan supercharge the connection, delivering higher speeds.


Jitter



In computing, jitter is a deviation from what is normally expected in signal pulses, which can affect processing speed or cause your computer monitor to flicker.


Latency



Latency is related to time, specifically the delay between an action and the effect. High latency in gaming causes player frustrations, because the characters won’t immediately respond to the command entered on the player’s controller. High latency is commonly referred to as a lag, whereas low latency is preferable as gameplay won’t feel sluggish.


Throttling



Throttling is the intentional restriction of bandwidth by an ISP. If you notice your internet running slowly, when you’re watching videos or playing games, your provider may be throttling your connection. To check your download and upload speeds, run a speed test on your browser by typing “internet speed test” into Google.


Ultrafast broadband



Ultrafast broadband generally refers to a range of download speeds, operating somewhere between 300Mbps and– 1,000Mbps. It’s faster than superfast broadband, but not as quick as the speeds you might expect from an FTTP connection (see below).

Fibre Broadband

M100 fibre broadband (108Mbps on average)



This popular family package gives a fibre internet solution with speeds of up to 108Mbps. Perfect for busy households using five5 to – nine9 devices for streaming, browsing and gaming.

M200 fibre broadband (213Mbps on average)



A strong broadband option for streaming HD content, downloading massive games and keeping smart speakers constantly connected, with an average speed of 213Mbpsrecommended for up to ten connected devices..

M350 fibre broadband (362Mbps on average)



This superfast broadband deal, averages speeds of 362 is Mbps, perfect for streaming Ultra HD shows or films. It’s also a great choice if you need to support multiple smart speakers and devices, and you find yourself making more frequent video calls.

M500 fibre broadband (516Mbps on average)



Downloading mammoth files in minutes while competing with the gamers in your household? Averaging 516Mbps, this is the perfect package for the busy, connected home.offering reliable connectivity for up to 30 connected devices.


Gig1 fibre broadband



Our most impressive, future-ready fibre broadband deal. Lightning-fast and packed with web-enabled smart technology, for the busiest households, packed with web-enabled smart technology, where everyone’s surfing and downloading at once.

Business fibre broadband



Superfast is good. Lightning- fast is better. Because the more speed you have, the more you can do. With our broadband for business, Voom Fibre Broadband, we give you download speeds all the way up to 500Mbps, and new and improved upload speeds up to 50Mbps.

Broadband packages

Broadband data



Most broadband packages come with unlimited data, however, there is a ‘fair usage policy’ (FUP) attached to some, which can be quite loosely, varying between providers. Data capping and download limits are rare nowadays, meaning you don’t have to keep tabs on how much data you and your family areis using in every monthly cycle. But if you’re concerned, you should review your package’s details.

Did you know…

During the pandemic, the biggest internet providers in the UK – including ourselves – agreed to scrap broadband caps to accommodate the increased time everyone was spending at home. In March 2020, Oliver Dowden, the Government’s digital secretary, called the move “fantastic”, celebrating the industry for pulling together to do its bit for the national effort.

Capping and data caps



Data caps are artificial limits imposed by providers, which will prevent the user from using any more data than the set amount. So, if you have a 20GB data limit, you’ll be unable to access the internet once you’ve used 20GB of data. Often providers will offer the option to buy more data, which is called an add-on.


Combined broadband packages



We offer the option to roll broadband, phone and TV into one single handy package, which combines all your connectivity and content into one bill, so you’re never disconnected. And did you know, our fastest widely available average broadband speeds are up to nine times quicker than those offered by Sky and BT. They all feature Wi-Fi technology designed to automatically fix connection issues on the fly, and come in packages to suit families and households of all shapes and sizes. And that’s not enough, there’s no set-up fee, either.

Data limits



Data limits are most commonly seen in mobile contracts, relating to the amount of data you’re permitted to use each month within your agreed contract. If you have a 30GB package, you will be able to access or download 30GB of online content before incurring further charges.


Online usage relates to anything that wouldn’t work without an active internet connection, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Signal. Check out the broadband data allowance page for more information.


Download limit



A download limit is pretty much the same thing as a data cap – the amount of data you can access within one billing cycle. If you reach your download limit, you’ll be able unable to access the internet, unless you’re willing to buy additional data from your provider.


FUP (fair usage policy)



FUP stands for fair usage policy, which can vary between providers and is often a the point of debate between customers and providers. An FUP is based around contentions ratios (see above), which sees users in the same local area accessing data from one line. If one user is using a lot more data than others, their access may be bottle-necked to allow a fairer distribution of bandwidth among the other users.

Quad play



Quad play or quadruple play is kind of like a one-stop stop-shop for all your digital subscriptions, combining home phone, broadband, digital TV and a SIM-only mobile service into a single bundle and payment. Triple play bundles also exist, combining phone, broadband and TV.


Truly unlimited



If you see a broadband deal advertised as being totally or truly unlimited, your ISP won’t be able to throttle (see above) your usage, in accordance with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the independent advertising regulator.

Broadband Installation

Coax or coaxial cable



A coax, or coaxial cable, is a copper conducted wire is responsible for transmitting radio frequencies (RF), video and data. The cable is used to connect to satellite antenna facilities, providing a picture to of your TV and data for internet use.


Dongle



A dongle lets you take wireless broadband with you, in the same way your phone is able tocan connect wirelessly to a 3G, 4G or 5G network. Dongles can be plugged directly into laptops, so you can get online when you’re out and about.


Fixed Fixed-line



A fixed-line network refers to an internet or telephone connection that, which is facilitated by physical wiring, unlike mobile connections, which are all wireless.


LAN (local area network)



LAN stands for local area network, and it describes a collection of devices all connected to a central network, like those in a school or an office.


Leased line



A leased line is a direct feed from your local exchange, which means quicker speeds and no sharing of bandwidth with others in your local area. Bandwidth on a leased line is fixed, which means equal upload and download speeds.


Broadband Delivery

Bluetooth



Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology, which allows the transferal of data without the need for any leads or cables. Most phones and laptops have Bluetooth technology built built-in, whichand lets them connect to wireless peripherals, like headphones, smartwatches and , keyboards, to name a few.


FTTC (fibre to the cabinet or curb)



FTTC stands for fibre to the cabinet (or curb), relating to direct fibre-optic cabling running from its source to the cabinet on the roadside near your home. The system uses existing coaxial cabling (see above) to carry a signal on its final journey from the curb to your home.


FTTP or FTTH (fibre to the property/home)



FTTP and FTTH mean the same thing – fibre to the premises/property or home. Unlike FFTC (above), FTTH sees fibre-optic cabling installed directly into the home, sidestepping older coaxial cabling. With direct fibre-optic cabling, users will be able to enjoy faster broadband speeds up to 100 -times fasters than normal., however


The IoT (Internet of Things)



The Internet of Things describes the rise of connected devices, those that have access to the internet, and can be controlled centrally, from your smartphone for example. Whether it’s a smart TV, fridge or watch, the Internet of Things is rapidly growing.


LLU or LLUB (local-loop unbundling)



A local loop is the wiring from which you would receive your broadband, running directly into your home. Most of the local loops in the UK are owned by BT, installed years ago to facilitate landline calls. The ‘unbundling’ part of the name allows other ISPs to share the line, in order to connect you to their own broadband service.


OTOT technology (over-the-top technology)



Over-the-top technology refers to streaming services that don’t require a traditional terrestrial distribution, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+, for example. OTT content is watched online through websites or apps.


Streaming



To stream content is to watch or listen to it online. Films and TV shows are streamed through services such as Netflix, and music can be streamed on Spotify.


Tethering



To tether one device to another is to share an internet connection. If a standalone device, like a laptop, is not in range of a Wi-Fi zone, a mobile hotspot can be created on a smartphone, to which to the laptop could tether and access the internet.


WiMAX



WiMAX is shorthand for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, which is a telecoms technology designed to transfer data wirelessly over large distances.


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