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.

You'll also find these terms underlined through-out our guides & articles - just hover/click the word, and the definition will appear.

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  • 5

  • 5G
    Fifth generation cellular networks are currently under active research and development – with some experimental trial deployments by Verizon, AT&T, and Google lately making the news. The goal of 5G networks will be to enable ridiculously fast peak cellular data rates of over 10 Gbps, with(...) - Read More
  • 8

  • 802.11
    The IEEE 802.11 set of technical standard is the formal name for the technology commonly referred to as Wi-Fi. The 802.11 standard comes in an alphabet soup of flavors now - so check your gear specifications to see what you are compatible with: 802.11b – The first widespread Wi-Fi(...) - Read More
  • a

  • AirCard
    The brand name for cellular mobile hotspot devices from Netgear (formerly Sierra Wireless), but has become a generic term for modems that allows a computer to connect to a cellular network.  Same thing as Novatel's 'Mifi' and Verizon's 'Jetpack'. - Read More
  • Amplifier
    Pumps up the volume of a wireless signal. - Read More
  • AMPS
    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. - Read More
  • Analog
    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(...) - Read More
  • Android
    Google’s smartphone operating system. - Read More
  • Antenna
    An antenna takes electrical input and broadcasts it out as radio waves, or receives radio waves and provides an electrical signal out. An antenna needs to be designed and carefully tuned for the frequencies that it needs to support. An antenna optimized for traditional cellular networks may be(...) - Read More
  • AOL
    Usually refers to 'Assumption of Liability' - the process by some cellular carriers to take over liability of an account. May also be referred to as transfer of service. Can also refer to 'America Online' - an online content service proceeding the internet as we know it today. - Read More
  • Attenuation
    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. - Read More
  • b

  • Band
    The radio spectrum is divided up into bands based upon the signal frequency – ranging from the very low frequency bands used to communicate with submerged submarines to the extremely high frequency and beyond bands used for radio astronomy and exotic sensors and weapons. Cellular networks all(...) - Read More
  • Bandwidth
    All of us mobile internet junkies know that we crave bandwidth, but how many of us actually know what the technical definition of “bandwidth” is? Any wireless broadcast actually extends across a range of frequencies – say, for example, the old analog TV channel 2, which spanned(...) - Read More
  • Bandwidth Cap
    Also know as a data cap, this is an imposed limit on the Cap amount of data that can be used over a certain period of time. Internet service providers sometimes refer to their implementation of bandwidth caps as a “Fair Access Policy.” - Read More
  • Bars
    On mobile devices, bars are a visual representation of RSSI, the Received Signal Strength Indication – an arbitrary mapping of signal power received (in dBm) to a number. This internally calculated number is usually then mapped to a simplified visual display – bars or dots. Also, bars(...) - Read More
  • Bird-on-a-Wire
    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(...) - Read More
  • Bluetooth
    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. - Read More
  • Booster
    Cellular signal boosters are amplifiers used to improve signal reception. Typically they have connections for an inside and outside antenna, amplifying the signal from the external antenna and rebroadcasting it indoors. - Read More
  • bps
    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. - Read More
  • Broadband
    In radio communications, broadband refers to a higher bandwidth transmission capable of transporting multiple signals simultaneously. This term became popular in the 1990s for describing any internet access technology faster than 56Kbps, which was the speed of a dial-up modem. Broadband is(...) - Read More
  • BYOD
    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. - Read More
  • c

  • Carrier Aggregation
    One of the biggest challenges facing mobile network operators is that they have lots of 5MHz and 10MHz bandwidth chunks of spectrum, but to offer the fastest possible speeds LTE requires 20MHz, and LTE-Advanced can take advantage of up to 100MHz. Carrier aggregation solves the problem by(...) - Read More
  • CDMA
    Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is the common name for the IS-95 and CDMA2000 standards for 2G and 3G networks embraced by Verizon and Sprint in the USA. Unlike GSM, CDMA is not widely deployed around the world and is thus not well suited for international roaming. Most CDMA World(...) - Read More
  • Cellular
    A cellular network is based on dividing the coverage area into numerous slightly overlapping cells. A base station (aka cell tower) within each cell provides coverage to all the devices inside the cell and hands off responsibility to a neighboring cell when the user moves. Cells can be as(...) - Read More
  • Channel
    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(...) - Read More
  • CPE
    CPE stands for “customer premises equipment” and is the term used for commercial-grade Wi-Fi access points used by wireless service providers. Very often, the equipment actually providing Wi-Fi in a campground is a Ubiquiti or EnGenius brand CPE. Advanced users can also use a CPE to(...) - Read More
  • d

  • dB
    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(...) - Read More
  • dBm
    It is very common to see signal strength expressed as a negative number with the units “dBm,” which stands for decibel-milliwatts. But what do these numbers mean, and how should you compare them? And why are they negative? On the dBm scale, a value of zero indicates 1 milliwatt of power.(...) - Read More
  • Decibel
    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(...) - Read More
  • DHCP
    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(...) - Read More
  • Dial-Up
    Back in the dark ages, people used a telephone modem to dial a phone number of an ISP to connect to the internet. - Read More
  • Digital
    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. - Read More
  • DNS
    DNS stands for “Domain Name Service” – This is the service that translates a name like “google.com” into an IP address like “206.181.8.251.” Think of it like the white pages for the internet. - Read More
  • Download Speed
    Reported in either kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits (equivalent to 1000 kilobits) per second (Mbps). This is a measurement of the maximum speed that data is able to flow to you from the speed-testing server. Speeds over 5Mbps give a good surfing experience, and over 20Mbps will feel(...) - Read More
  • DSL
    Stands for “Digital Subscriber Line” – home internet service provided via telephone wires, usually by a local phone company. - Read More
  • e

  • Ethernet
    Wired networks are commonly called ethernet networks. Ethernet wires look like phone wires, though the jacks at the end are wider. The ethernet wire is sometimes called Cat-5. - Read More
  • f

  • FaceTime
    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. But PCs and Android devices cannot make or receive FaceTime calls. - Read More
  • Frequency
    Frequency is defined as the number of times a repeating event happens per second, and is measured in Hertz (or Hz). A typical cellular radio might be operated at 700MHz – which means that the peak of the radio wave passes 700 million times per second. When it comes to radio waves, lower(...) - Read More
  • g

  • Gain
    The gain is the increase in signal provided by an amplifier or an antenna. Gain is logarithmic and reported in dB – a 3dB gain is a doubling in signal power. A 10dB gain is a 10x increase in signal power. - Read More
  • Gbps
    Gbps stands for gigabit per second and is also often written as Gb/s. A gigagbit is made up of 1,000 megabits. Computers often have “Gigabit Ethernet” wired networking ports, but gigabit ethernet routers remain somewhat rare. The new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard paves the way for gigabit(...) - Read More
  • Grandfathered
    When an internet provider retires a plan it is no longer available to new customers. However those who already had the plan are generally grandfathered in - meaning they get to keep their plan, features and pricing for as long as they keep paying the bill.  The carrier does legally have the(...) - Read More
  • Ground Plane
    Many antennas are designed to need a ground plane to function properly, especially the common magnetic-mount antennas many cellular boosters come with. A ground plane is created by providing a metal surface underneath the antenna. Steel works great (like a car roof), and the magnetic(...) - Read More
  • GSM
    GSM stands for “Global System for Mobile Communications” and is an international standard for 2G cellular networks. In the USA, AT&T and T-Mobile built their networks on the GSM standard. Central to the GSM standard is the SIM card, making it relatively easy to move service from one device(...) - Read More
  • gUDP
    gUDP is shorthand for 'Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plan', and more specifically refers to Verizon's legacy unlimited data plans. These plans were taken off the market in 2011, but continue to be grandfathered in for now - and are still obtainable by jumping through some hoops. They are not(...) - Read More
  • h

  • Hotspot
    A hotspot is the common name for a Wi-Fi network. A public hotspot allows those nearby to connect without needing a password. A “personal hotspot” is the term often used to describe a private hotspot made by a smartphone or mobile hotspot device to allow other authorized devices to share a(...) - Read More
  • i

  • iOS
    The operating system inside Apple’s iPhone and iPad. - Read More
  • IP Address
    Every site on the internet has an IP address. Behind the scenes, this numerical address is used to communicate instead of friendly names like technomadia.com. - Read More
  • IPv6
    The internet is running out of IP addresses to assign to newly connected devices. IPv6 is the next generation of networking protocols that pave the way for trillions of connected devices and beyond. LTE is designed from the ground up based around IPv6. - Read More
  • ISP
    Who is providing your internet service? That company is your Internet Service Provider (ISP). - Read More
  • j

  • Jetpack
    Verizon refers to mobile hotspot devices as Jetpacks, and the term is often used interchangeably with MiFi or mobile hotspot. - Read More
  • Jitter
    Reported by some speed testing apps, jitter is an indication of how much the connection latency varies moment-to-moment. - Read More
  • k

  • Kbps
    Stands for kilobit per second and is also often written as kb/s. A kilobit is made up of a 1000 bits,or. 125 bytes (text characters). Old telephone modems were capable of receiving 56Kbps speeds – painfully slow by today’s standards. 2G wireless networks are typically measured in Kbps. - Read More
  • l

  • LAN
    LAN stands for Local Area Network, as opposed to WAN, which stands for Wide Area Network. Whether wired or wireless, the network inside your home, RV, office or boat is considered a LAN. - Read More
  • Latency
    When it comes to networks, latency refers to how long it takes for a remote server to respond to a request. The latency is often referred to as “ping time” by speed-testing apps and is reported in milliseconds. Think of it as follows: When you click a link, how long before you see a new(...) - Read More
  • LNB
    Low Noise Block. On a satellite TV or internet system, the LNB is the extremely sensitive reception antenna mounted on a boom at the focal point of the dish. - Read More
  • Lock/Unlock
    A 'locked' mobile device is one that has been restricted by software so that it can only be used with a single network or carrier. Mobile phones are used to be heavily subsidized and carriers wanted to discourage people switching networks or shipping phones to other countries. But, even(...) - Read More
  • LTE
    The dominant 4G technology is known as LTE, which stands for Long-Term Evolution. The LTE standard is gradually supplanting the previous cellular technology standards that came before it. - Read More
  • LTE-Advanced
    The LTE platform was designed to evolve to support faster and more advanced networks. The next major step in the evolution of LTE is being called LTE-A or LTE-Advanced, and the next step beyond moving closer to 5G has recently been dubbed LTE-Advanced Pro. One of the primary advances coming(...) - Read More
  • LTE-LAA
    LTE-LAA (aka LTE Band 46) is a technology that lets cellular carriers tap into unused and unlicensed 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum to offer crazy fast speeds over short ranges. The "LAA" stands for "Licensed Assisted Access" - which means that your primary connection is still over traditional(...) - Read More
  • m

  • Mbps
    Mbps stands for megabits per second and is also often written as Mb/s (not to be confused with MB/s). A megabit is made up of 1,000,000 bits, or 125,000 bytes (text characters). Network Bandwidth or speed is usually measured in Mbps. - Read More
  • Microcell
    A mini cell tower that utilizes an existing broadband Internet service to create local cellular service. These are generally only available in fixed locations (likes homes or offices) and are offered directly by cellular carriers to their customers in fringe signal areas. As this solution(...) - Read More
  • MiFi
    “MiFi” is Novatel’s trademarked brand name for its line of mobile hotspots, but the term is often used generically to refer to any similar device, such as Jetpack. - Read More
  • MIMO
    MIMO stands for multiple-input, multiple-output – for wireless networks, this means using multiple antennas working together to increase data speeds. MIMO technology is central to the latest Wi-Fi and LTE cellular standards. - Read More
  • Mobile Hotspot
    A mobile hotspot is a small device, usually battery powered, which combines a router with a cellular modem allowing the user to share a cellular connection with other nearby Wi-Fi devices. Also known by their branded names of MiFi, Jetpack or Aircard. - Read More
  • Modem
    Modem is short for “modulate/demodulate” – the technical terms for transforming digital data to be transferred over a wire or a radio. The term “modem” was popular in the old dial-up days.  It is commonly used to reference a cable modem, DSL modem or cellular modem. - Read More
  • MVNO
    Mobile Virtual Network Operator – a company that offers cellular service, but which does not own its own cellular network. MVNOs lease capacity from the major carriers, and are often actually owned by the larger carrier as well. - Read More
  • n

  • NAT
    Network Address Translation (NAT) is a method to translate IP addresses between networks. It also allows a single, public IP address to be used by multiple private IP addresses.  This aspect of NAT is essential for creating private networks in home and mobile routers.  It's also becoming a(...) - Read More
  • Network
    A system of devices that are joined together so that they can communicate by exchanging information. - Read More
  • Network Management
    Is when a carrier reserves the right to de-prioritize the traffic of high bandwidth users. They generally have a threshold before this kicks in (22-50GB of usage in a month). After that threshold is reached, if the customer is on a cellular tower that is experiencing congestion, their usage(...) - Read More
  • o

  • Operator
    Operator is another label often used to describe cellular companies since they are operating a network on behalf of their customers. The network operator owns or controls the licensed radio spectrum and the network infrastructure necessary to provide service over that spectrum. Contrast(...) - Read More
  • OS
    OS stands for operating system. An operating system is the software that supports a computer's (or phone or tablet or etc.) basic functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications, and controlling peripherals. - Read More
  • Oscillation
    If the outside antenna for a cellular booster picks up the signal from the inside antenna, oscillation happens; if the booster is properly designed, it will shut itself down. This is the same phenomena as walking too close to a speaker with a microphone – leading to a howling screech. The(...) - Read More
  • p

  • Packet Loss
    Some speed testing apps report a percentage of “packet loss.” Think of this as letters lost in the mail. Substantial and persistent packet loss on a connection means the connection is unreliable, and web pages may not reliably load. - Read More
  • Ping
    How much time elapses before receiving a response to a signal is the ping time. - Read More
  • POE
    Power Over Ethernet Some networking equipment (such as the roof-mounted WiFiRanger units) are powered over the ethernet network wire instead of via a dedicated power cord and power supply. This makes wiring much simpler since only a single wire needs to be run to the device. To get the(...) - Read More
  • POTS
    POTS is shorthand for Plain Old Telephone Service – the old way of getting online via dialing a modem on a regular wired phone line. Also known as a landline. - Read More
  • r

  • Refarming
    When cellular carriers shut down older networks, they free up frequency spectrum that they can then reuse to support newer technologies. This process is called refarming the network. The downside of refarming is that devices based upon older technologies will get slower and less coverage, and(...) - Read More
  • Repeater
    A booster amplifies a signal – including any background noise. In contrast, a repeater actually recreates and broadcasts a new signal without the noise. Cellular repeaters are rare since to rebroadcast (and not just amplify) a signal requires close cooperation with the carrier. But Wi-Fi range(...) - Read More
  • Retired
    While an RVer or boater may be considered retired because they are no longer working - when an internet provider uses the term 'retired' it generally means a plan or device they previously offered is no longer available to new customers. And that's how we use the term here when talking(...) - Read More
  • Roaming
    Roaming is when a cellular carrier has agreements with other networks to utilize their towers, helping the carrier provide connectivity to customers who are just passing through areas the carrier doesn’t directly service. Though customers are rarely charged directly for roaming anymore,(...) - Read More
  • Router
    A router acts as the hub of a local network. The WAN (wide area network) connection from the router provides the upstream connection from your local network to the internet. Usually, a router is required to allow multiple devices to share a single internet connection. - Read More
  • RSSI
    RSSI stands for Received Signal Strength Indication – an arbitrary mapping of the power received by an antenna (in dBm) to a number. How this number is calculated varies greatly from device to device. This is usually simplified into a visual bars or dots display. - Read More
  • s

  • Satellite
    Satellites in orbit above the earth are invaluable for long- distance communications. Some satellites are geosynchronous, which means they sit directly over a fixed point on the equator and are always in the exact same position in the sky. But because they are so far away, precise aiming with(...) - Read More
  • SIM
    SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. The tiny SIM card is mandated on GSM and LTE networks and identifies you to the network. Swapping your SIM into a new phone essentially moves your service and phone number to that new device. SIMs come in a range of sizes – Full-Size is extinct,(...) - Read More
  • Skype
    A cross-platform audio and video chat platform now owned by Microsoft. Skype is probably the most widely used video calling system. - Read More
  • Smartphone
    Phones that are actually computers running a general purpose operating system that can be extended with applications are called smartphones. Phones lacking an extensible operating system are called feature phones. Apple’s iOS (used in the iPhone) and Google’s Android are the two dominant(...) - Read More
  • Spectrum
    The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of radiation, ranging from extremely high- frequency gamma rays and X-rays through visible light to infrared to radio waves. The radio spectrum is defined as 300GHz to 3kHz, and it is broken for convenience into bands. - Read More
  • t

  • telematics
    Telematics is a system that monitors multiple aspects of a vehicle and combines that information with other data, like GPS and cellular data communication, to provide various services. This integration allows detailed monitoring of a vehicle's status, location, speed, and health.  For example,(...) - Read More
  • Tethering
    Using a USB cable to directly attach the phone/tablet to a computer or router. This allows other devices to share the cellular data connection to get online . Usage of tethering (or mobile hotspot - which is the same concept, but over wireless connections) may have restrictions on some(...) - Read More
  • Throttling
    Throttling is the act of intentionally slowing down a cellular data connection to run at a slower speed. Some carriers have moved away from charging overage charges when you hit your monthly data limits and instead now throttle users down to slower speeds. In some cases, the throttling can(...) - Read More
  • u

  • Unlimited
    “Unlimited” is the holy grail of mobile data, but read the fine print and beware of throttling and network management because there are often limits lurking. Most often, the term "unlimited" has been redefined by the carriers to simply mean no overage charges. - Read More
  • Upload Speed
    The opposite of download speed, the upload speed tells you how fast data is able to get from you to the speed-test server. Upload speeds are almost always substantially lower than download speeds. For many typical internet tasks upload speeds don’t have a huge impact. But, upload speeds are(...) - Read More
  • v

  • VOIP
    VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and refers to technology and service providers that allow for traditional phone calls to be placed over the internet. VOIP calls can be placed either via specialized applications or by plugging a regular landline phone into a VOIP adaptor that(...) - Read More
  • VoLTE
    It used to be to make a voice phone call, cell phones switched their radios back to the old voice network to make the call. This is why some older Verizon phones can’t surf the web or get email while a call is underway, and AT&T phones drop back to 3G data speeds until the call is(...) - Read More
  • VPN
    A VPN encrypts all the data coming to and from your computer, and sends it to a remote VPN server that then connects to the public internet on your behalf. This prevents anyone on your local network from being able to eavesdrop on you in any way – they can’t even tell what sites you(...) - Read More
  • w

  • WAN
    WAN stands for Wide Area Network, as opposed to LAN which stands for Local Area Network. Routers often have an ethernet port labeled WAN, and this is where you connect the upstream network if you have a cable or DSL modem. - Read More
  • Wi-Fi
    Wi-Fi is a short-range local wireless networking technology used for connecting IEEE 802.11 enabled devices to each other, and is actually a trademarked brand name of the Wi-Fi Alliance. While the name was a pun on the term 'hi-fi' used widely in the era, it's sometimes non-officially referred(...) - Read More
  • Wi-Fi as WAN
    Some routers support using a Wi-Fi network as their upstream data connection, and this is called WiFi-as-WAN. With WiFi- as-WAN, you can use your router to connect to the campground Wi-Fi while still maintaining a private local wired and wireless network. - Read More
  • Wi-Fi Calling
    Some phones and carriers support making and receiving voice calls over a Wi-Fi connection as well as over a cellular connection. T-Mobile, in particular, has made this a core feature on its network, though AT&T, Sprint, and more recently Verizon have also begun to roll this technology out on(...) - Read More
  • WISP
    The term WISP (wireless internet service provider) has typically been attached to ISPs that deliver service to fixed locations via long-range wireless signals, often in rural areas where cable and DSL are not practical options. A WISP providing service may have a transmitter on a nearby(...) - Read More
  • WPA3
    WPA3 is the first major security standards update for Wi-FI networks in over a decade - and in particular it includes some important improvements for security on open public networks. WPA3 will eventually be as prevalent as WPA2 is today. But it  will take a LONG time before WPA3 is(...) - Read More
  • WPA2
    WPA2 is the standard protocol for protecting Wi-Fi networks, replacing the now obsolete WPA and WEP protocols. The WPA2 protocol is set to slowly be replaced with WPA3, which improves security significantly - especially on public networks. - Read More