Before you get frustrated wondering why you might need a POE to power your CPE to get remote 802.11g when you’d really rather have more dB on your LTE – check our glossary below.
"5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology, and is the successor to 4G/LTE.
5G takes advantage of many chunks of spectrum ranging from long-range UHF frequencies up through short-range extremely high millimeter-wave frequencies (mmW)
When broadcast over long-range frequencies, 5G may only have a modest speed improvement over 4G/LTE. In core urban and suburban areas that are frequently overloaded the extra capacity that 5G brings to cellular allows for dramatic overall improvements.
NOTE: 5G cellular and 5Ghz Wi-Fi are entirely different things."
"The IEEE 802.11 set of technical standard is the formal name for the wireless technology commonly referred to as Wi-Fi.
The 802.11 standard comes in an alphabet soup of flavors. 802.11 has become more commonly referred to as simply 'Wi-Fi' and then a generation number (such as 'Wi-Fi 5')."
The brand name for cellular mobile hotspot devices from Netgear (formerly Sierra Wireless). They are often incorrectly referred to as Jetpacks or MiFis, which are actually trademarked branded words from Verizon and Inseego.
Pumps up the volume of a wireless signal. The amplifier is the electronic part of a cellular booster kit that is providing the power.
Stands for Advanced Mobile Phone System, the original 1G analog cellular network widely deployed in the 1980s and 1990s.
The AMPS network was phased out in the USA in 2008.
Analog radio signals are made up of waves that have not been digitized – meaning that anyone with a compatible tuner can listen in. Analog radio is easy to eavesdrop upon, is a very inefficient use of spectrum, and it suffers from static and other interference – especially as distance increases.
The analog AMPS cellular network was at last fully shut down in 2008, but other wireless analog communication technologies remain – such as CB and ham radio.
Google’s smartphone operating system.
An antenna takes electrical input and broadcasts it out as radio waves, or receives radio waves and provides an electrical signal to a device to utilize that signal.
An antenna needs to be designed and carefully tuned for the frequencies that it needs to support, and they come in a variety of specifications for gain.
In terms of mobile internet, antennas are used for cellular, Wi-Fi and satellite devices. They can be built directly in devices, or be externally attached via ports.
Refers to 'Assumption of Liability'. This process can sometimes be used to assume the liability of an account.
This may also be referred to as a transfer of service. Can also refer to 'America Online' - an online content service proceeding the internet as we know it today.
The APN (Access Point Name) acts as a gateway between your cellular device and the carrier's data network. Every cellular device needs an APN and that APN must be one compatible with the cellular carrier, device, and SIM that you're using.
Attenuation is the measurement of signal loss over a distance in a wire or through the air, usually reported as dB/cm or dB/ft. This measurement is important for antenna cables – "low- loss" cables have much less attenuation over a given distance.
The radio spectrum is divided up into bands based upon the signal frequency.
Standardized batches of LTE frequencies are also known as LTE bands, and each carrier utilizes different ones. When shopping for gear, it's important to select gear that supports at least the core bands your carrier uses.
Bandwidth is the size of a wireless frequency channel. Think of it like how many lanes there are on a highway, or the size of a water hose.
The larger the bandwidth allotted to a channel, the more information that channel can carry.
The available bandwidth is what limits capacity on a wireless network - whether it's cellular or Wi-Fi. It's why when there are a lot of people sharing that same wireless signal, speeds become slower than when there's less congestion.
Also know as a data cap, this is an imposed limit on the amount of data that can be used over a certain period of time. It may also be specific to a feature, such as mobile hotspot use or roaming. Once you exceed that cap, speeds are generally reduced - or on some tiered data plans, data is cut off.
On mobile devices, bars are a visual representation of signal strength.
Each device calculates them differently. The number of bars a device is displaying doesn't always have a direct correlation to how fast an internet connection will be - there are far too many variables.
So we suggest instead running speed tests to check the quality of your internet connection and leaving bars to drown your sorrows when you can’t get online any other way. As an alternative, consider keeping a box of wine handy.
Satellite internet dishes need to be precisely aimed at the satellite providing data service. Rather than require a second dish for television reception, a BOW mounts additional receivers precisely offset on the same dish being used for data to also allow that dish to pick up satellite TV service too.
This used to be commonly supported, but is rare now.
Bluetooth is a slow, short range wireless communication technology most commonly used for wireless headsets and speakers. Though Bluetooth uses the same 2.4GHz frequencies as Wi-Fi, it is designed to avoid interference – and usually succeeds.
Also called "channel bonding," this is an advanced technique that lets a router combine multiple internet connections together into a virtual single connection for faster performance. So, for example, a router that supports bonding could combine two 4G hotspot connections into a faster, single connection.
This feature, when it is supported in router hardware, is generally found on high-end gear, and usually requires a dedicated server to combine the traffic together (often resulting in an expensive subscription service fee). The server and subscription costs plus the technical complexity tend to relegate this option to users with extreme geek skills or highly specialized needs.
Bonding can also be accomplished with software and a VPN on a per-device basis. For example, one could bond multiple USB tethered devices (and even Wi-Fi) together on a PC with the very affordable Speedify software and service. Speedify also works with smartphones, combining cellular and Wi-Fi connections.
A Windows PC can also become a virtual router, allowing you to share the bonded connection using the Connectify soft-router.
Boosters are amplifiers used to improve wireless signal reception. Most common are cellular boosters to help smartphones and mobile hotspot devices receive an increased signal.
However because of a core LTE technology called MIMO, boosters do not always translates to better mobile internet speeds. But they can still make since in some situations.
Stands for bits per second. The smallest unit of computing is a bit – 0 or 1. Network speeds are measured in how many of these bits are capable of being sent per second. It takes 8 bits to make a “byte,” and one byte usually represents a single character of text.
In radio communications, broadband refers to a higher bandwidth transmission capable of transporting multiple signals simultaneously. Basically, it means faster than dial-up connection that is always on.
Broadband is relative term – and over time what it takes to be considered “broadband” has been gradually increasing.
BYOD stands for 'bring your own device', and most often refers to a carrier or vendor's stance on whether or not you must purchase a device through them, or can bring your own.
Carrier aggregation is a core LTE-A technology that combines multiple channels from different chunks of spectrum to make a higher bandwidth virtual channel that can support faster speeds.
Most modern cellular modems have embraced this technology, and support for carrier aggregation is absolutely critical to achieving peak cellular performance.
Older LTE Cat-3 and most Cat-4 modems however are limited to connecting to just one single channel at a time.
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a chunk of 3.5GHz spectrum that the FCC has set aside for future use for 4G/LTE cellular, 5G, and other innovative uses. When used for LTE, CBRS is defined as LTE Band 48.
CBRS is pioneering an innovative approach to sharing access to spectrum - with military radar and existing satellite operations grandfathered in while in use, then there is a second tier of Priority Access Licenses (PAL) that are being auctioned off to telecommunications companies for 5G and expanded LTE service.
Finally, there is a third tier of access that is open to anyone without a license - similar to Wi-Fi. Devices operating at this level will have to be a good neighbor with other nearby devices.
CBRS compatible devices will be designed to check in with a central server to see if a channel in their area is already in use by a higher priority user, and if not they will be able to establish a communications link until someone else needs it.
The auction for second tier licenses is due to conclude in June 2020, and CBRS will likely become an important cellular band later in 2020 in beyond - and some carriers (particularly Verizon) are already experimenting with CBRS deployments. NOTE: This band is also being branded as "OnGo" by the CBRS Alliance, and this branding will eventually be used to indicate compatible devices.
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is the common name for the IS-95 and CDMA2000 standards for 2G and 3G networks originally embraced by Verizon and Sprint in the USA.
4G LTE and 5G have pretty much replaced 2G and 3G technologies that are being phased out.
Cellular data uses the same technology that allows smartphones to make calls, receive texts or browse the web. A smartphone, tablet, hotspot device or cellular router can convert cellular signal into Wi-Fi or ethernet to get laptops and other devices online - providing the data plan allows for the hotspot feature.
Cellular carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint) deploy equipment where they have customers that transmit a long range wireless signal, ranging from a mile to dozens of miles. They design their footprint so that there is overlap in their signal, creating 'cells' that make up their coverage map.
A channel is the combination of the frequency a signal is being broadcast upon and the bandwidth that it occupies.
In other words, the frequency is the address of the channel, and the bandwidth is the size of the house.
The more bandwidth a given channel takes up, the fewer of them you can have in a given slice of spectrum.
Cloud SIM technology allows users to choose the best network coverage among all available networks and initiate service on it. A cloud SIM provider may allow a user to choose their network manually, choose it for the user based on the location service is being requested, or have a user contact the provider to change the service.
CPE stands for “customer premises equipment” and is the term used for commercial-grade Wi-Fi access points used to provide Wi-Fi in a campground or marina. The equipment combines an antenna and radio into one device to minimize signal loss.
Consumers can also use CPE equipment to maximize their own Wi-Fi receive range, and many available Wi-Fi extending options are actually CPEs.
The logarithmic decibel scale is used to indicate the amount of gain an amplifier or antenna provides, or the loss introduced over wires. Positive numbers represent amplification, and negative numbers represent loss.
On the decibel scale, every 3dB represents a 2x increase, and every −3dB decrease represents 1/2. 10dB represents a 10x increase, 20dB represents 100x, 30dB represents 1000x, and so on.
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is the magic that happens behind the scenes that allows your computer and other devices to automatically configure to connect to the upstream router. The router uses DHCP to assign each device an IP address and tells it what DNS service to use. If your computer and the DHCP server get out of sync, learning how to tell your computer to “Renew DHCP Lease” might be what it takes to fix things. (Rebooting accomplishes the same thing too.)
Back in the dark ages, people used a telephone modem to dial a phone number of an ISP to connect to the internet. Crazy, huh?
Digital signals are made up of zeros and ones. All cellular networks today are digital networks. A digital network suffers drop-outs with distance until eventually the signal is lost.
DNS stands for Domain Name System.
DNS is an addressing and naming system for nodes on a network. TCP/IP networks use IP addresses for network nodes - a DNS system maps names for internet addresses. For example, a DNS system tells clients the IP address for www.rvmobileinternet.com. Think of it like looking up numbers in a phone book.
This is a measurement of the speed that data is able to flow to your device from the source. The faster, the better.
Speeds over 5Mbps give a good surfing experience, and over 20Mbps will feel awesome. Speeds under 1Mbps can make the modern internet feel slow, and speeds under 500Kbps are painful.
Download speeds have a particularly large impact on streaming video. If the speeds aren’t able to keep up, you will experience stuttering, pauses and long buffering delays. But it will also impact how fast webpages and graphics load.
DSL stands for “Digital Subscriber Line” – home internet service provided via telephone wires, usually by a local phone company.
Wired networks are commonly called ethernet networks. Ethernet wires look like landline phone wires, though the jacks at the end are wider. In order to use ethernet as part of your RV or boat's networking, you'll need to have a mobile router or device that has ethernet ports.
Apple’s proprietary ultra-simple video phone technology. With FaceTime, you can make a video call to other iPhone and iPad users, as well as to Mac laptops and desktops.
Field Test Mode
Every iPhone has a hidden "Field Test Mode" that can be accessed by dialing a special "*3001#12345#*" phone number from the main dial-pad.
From within this mode, you can dig up details about your cellular connection that are not normally available, such as your raw signal strength, currently active LTE band, and whether or not carrier aggregation is active.
A network firewall is a piece of software that analyses and enforces rules on network traffic. A firewall is designed to prevent malicious and unauthorized traffic on the network. Networks can have varying levels of trust - for instance, your personal LAN is a trusted network while the rest of the internet is untrusted. A firewall will sit between a trusted and untrusted network and try to block malicious traffic from entering the trusted network.