Our glossary of business internet terms helps you gain understanding of the industry’s most common terminology and definitions.
As businesses consumers, we should have some understanding of how we can transmit, protect and store our data. Yet sometimes it feels as though the information provided to help us understand business broadband internet packages is unduly complicated, veiled behind cryptic acronyms and tech-speak.
The Business Tech Weekly team has put together a series of technical terms to help you navigate through “tech-speak” when researching broadband internet suppliers and packages. Below you’ll find brief explanations of many of the terminology and acronyms relating to business broadband and internet.
We realise it’s not exhaustive, and we update this list this on a regular basis. If you come across any broadband or business internet related words you don’t understand and don’t find below, get in touch and we’ll put that right.
Third Generation (3G) is a mobile communications standard that allows mobile phones, computers, and other portable electronic devices to access the Internet wirelessly.
Fourth Generation (4G) is a mobile communications standard intended to replace 3G, allowing wireless Internet access at a much higher speed.
The next iteration of mobile technology, i.e. Fifth Generation (5G). As well as being much faster than 4G, the plan is to build a network that can easily support the growing demands of the Internet of Things as well as regular users. The first 5G network in the UK was launched by EE in 2019.
A platform provided by BT which allows ISPs to connect users to the internet. This is now older technology and has been superceded by 21CN.
A platform provided by BT which allows ISPs to connect users to the internet. This is the latest technology and enables new technology like ADSL2 and FTTC (superfast fibre broadband) to work.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. A broadband technology which allows for faster transfer of data across regular telephone lines than the old dial-up connections. Phone calls can be made at the same time – all you need is a microfilter or modern telephone faceplate and you can run both telephone and broadband connection simultaneously. An ADSL line will at minimum allow for a broadband connection of up to 8Mb, however ADSL2+ is now available at nearly all exchanges throughout the UK and improves data transfer rates, allowing for broadband speeds over copper wire of up to 17Mb.
This term describes the performance of an internet connection. The measure of assured throughput is the average daily rate over a 24 hour period and helps ensure consistent performance.
If a connection is described as “asymmetrical” it means the upload and download speeds differ. Standard broadband connections are asymmetrical, offering a higher download speed than upload speed.
This is a measure of how reliable your connection is. A high availability means the connection rarely fails. Availability equals being “online”.
This figure denotes the maximum throughput of a connection – or how much data can travel along the line at any one time. It is measured in Mbps (mega bits per second).
This refers to the cable (either copper or fibre) which carries the service provided. However, it is most commonly used in terms of Leased Line as the capacity of the bearer (or cable) limits the speed of the link.
A broadband solution for those in rural areas suffering from low speed, or businesses wanting to double, treble or quadruple their current speeds. Bonded DSL bonds together up to four ADSL lines and can be achieved in any location with a phone line.
This occurs when there is a delay between clicking “play” on music or video downloaded from the internet, and the item starting to play. The delay is caused by the time it takes your computer to download enough data to start streaming the content and keep up. If your connection is fast enough, buffering will not occur but the length of time you experience in buffering is relative to the speed of your connection. If you suffer from a particularly bad connection, you are likely to experience buffering throughout streaming rather than just at the start.
The name given to the kerbside box where broadband and telephony is delivered to your area. The cabinet contains the ends of the cables which carry the internet into your personal premises. Your local cabinet is the nearest point of contact with the local infrastructure.
Cisco Anti-Spam Engine. An important part of the six layers of protection in our anti-virus and anti-spam solution: EmailShield. The CASE scans and scores the complete context of each message – resulting in much more accurate filtering than traditional techniques – allowing the user to fix a different level of protection for each email address.
This term refers to a huge sector of computing but basically refers to the use of any hosted applications or services. It means using a programme or software which is not loaded into your own PC but hosted online. Use of cloud services allows flexible working as the programmes, applications or even servers are available from anywhere, at any time. Webmail is a simple example of a cloud service.
A colo is a data center facility where a business can rent space for servers and other computing hardware. Typically, a colo provides the building, cooling, power, bandwidth and physical security and the customer provides servers and storage
Configuration of any device basically refers to the set up process – making it work for you, in your circumstances and with your existing system.
This refers to how many other users are connecting to the internet and sharing the network with you. The higher the contention ratio, the slower the connection will be. Some bespoke connections like an Internet Leased Line offer businesses unsurpassed speeds by guaranteeing a 1:1 contention ratio – no competition, in other words. It is hard to put a figure on contention ratios for ADSL, FTTC or FTTP lines these days, however, as fixed contention ratios no longer exist.
Cookies are tiny bits of data that websites place on your computer when you visit them for the first time. It’s a cookie that helps a website “recognise” you when you return, and can alter what you view on that site to your benefit. Some cookies are more sophisticated and can record data on your browsing habits for that site but they are generally designed to be beneficial. Without cookies, for instance, online shopping would be much harder. If you really don’t want cookies on your PC, your web browser will have an option to block them but this will make surfing the net harder, and some sites won’t work.
Central Processing Unit – the brains of your computer, where most calculations are carried out.
Generally refers to a bespoke, offsite warehouse which is high-security, highly resilient and protected which contains servers and storage facilities to safely keep customer data. It means your data is always accessible and can’t easily be lost.
An old form of internet technology but often used as a backup. Dial-up was the precursor to the broadband system of connecting to the internet and used the phone line itself along with a modem to get online. It is much slower than modern broadband (and more than 700 times slower than Lightspeed fibre broadband, for instance) and means you can’t make a phone call whilst using dial up.
A domain name is the address of a website. businesstechweekly.com is a domain. Businesses or individuals use them to get a personalised online identity – a website and email address that’s specific to them.
Also known as “download speed”, the measure of downstream capability (in Mbps) determines how much data can be downloaded from the internet per a second. This term also refers to the direction of traffic and means data transfer from the internet into your computer.
This refers to the period in which a system is unavailable. A hosted application, hosted server or the network itself may suffer from downtime.
Ethernet in the First Mile. This service is offered in certain areas which have been enabled for EFM and provides a very cost-effective type of Leased Line. EFM means that rather than the connection being fibre from end to end (as for a Leased Line), bundled copper pairs are used between the premises and the exchange. EFM offers symmetrical speeds (same up as down). EFM does have its limits when compared to the fibre-based Internet Leased Line, however, as it can only achieve speeds up to 10Mbps.
A security measure which sees data converted using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone without the encryption key. It’s often used to safely transfer data across networks or store it more safely against theft.
Ethernet over FTTC is a superfast fibre Ethernet connection over fibre broadband infrastructure.
Refers to a computer networking technology used in Local Area Networks (LANs). It’s a method of sending data.
This is the main delivery point for the internet and telephony networks within your nearest town or city.
The automatic switching over to a standby computer, server, system or network upon the failure of the main application.
False Positive Rate
A term often used in anti-spam technology to mean the rate at which the anti-spam engine wrongly identifies good mail as bad. A low false positive rate is a good thing.
A way of measuring performance – the fault rate is the number of times a service goes wrong.
Giving a figure in percentage terms is often done to represent “uptime” (how consistently a service is available and working). The “five nines” refers to the figure 99.999%.
Stands for “file transfer protocol” and refers to a way of up or downloading data to and from another computer.
Fibre to the Cabinet. This is the way superfast fibre broadband is predominately delivered currently in the UK. It means the line is fibre as far as your cabinet – which is the kerbside box that delivers the internet to your neighbourhood.
Full root access
The most authoritative control possible over a server. Full root access gives you complete control of that server.
Fair Usage Policy. Part of the “small print” in some broadband agreements. If your provider has one, you’d benefit from reading it as it will explain how your connection is managed and what limits are placed on it.
Gb is short for gigabit, which is a unit used to describe data transfer speed. It is often written as Gbps, or gigabits per second, but on Broadband Genie we use Gb as this is the style most commonly used by ISPs.
GB is short for gigabyte, used to describe the size of computer files and memory capacity. There are 1000 bytes in a kilobyte (KB), 1000 kilobytes in a megabyte (MB), and 1000 megabytes in a gigabyte. A small text file could be measured in bytes, a basic Word document in kilobytes, a music file in megabytes and a Blu-ray quality film in gigabytes.
Broadband service offering speeds of 1Gb or more. A gigabit connection is very fast – at a rate of 1Gb it would theoretically take just 32 seconds to transfer a 4GB DVD. Most home broadband connections in the UK cannot support gigabit yet but there are a few areas where FTTH networks have made it possible.
Technology you can see. Hardware is the physical manifestation of your computer system, as opposed to software which is intangible.
High Availability (HA)
This is a measure of the standard of service you can expect from an application. When the phrase High Availability was coined it used to mean availability of 99.9% or above but today just generally represents reliability and high standards.
A private branch exchange (PBX) phone system that’s delivered as a hosted service service.
The term used to refer to the ability to store data or applications on a server or other computer so that it can be accessed over the internet.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure – this is an encrypted way to send webpages to your computer. Sites like online banking, for instance, will use this more secure version.
Internet Message Access Protocol – this is a way of syncing mail between devices by retaining messages on a central server. It means you can access your mail from anywhere and any changes will be saved and viewable on all devices.
An often automated backup system which checks for changes in your files, rather than repeatedly backing up the whole content. A time and data-saving technique for much more efficient backup.
Integrated Services for Digital Network (ISDN) is a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network.
Jitter is the term for frequent changes in latency. While the latency of a connection will constantly fluctuate by a small amount, it can be a problem if data packets are experiencing drastic changes in latency – for example jumping from 30ms to 200ms to 40ms to 180ms, etc. High jitter indicates a problem with the connection, but you may need to do some troubleshooting to see whether it’s due to your local network connection, the connection to a remote server, or an issue with your broadband ISP.
Kilobits per second (Kbps) was commonly used to measure dial-up internet speeds and still crops up with slower mobile broadband connections and slow uploads and downloads of internet files. In terms of data file size or storage capacity, 1Kb equals 125 bytes.
KB (or kilobyte)
1,000 bytes. This is most often used as measure of storage capacity or data size, as opposed to Kilobit which typically describes data transmission speed.
A database used for knowledge sharing and management. Available from most ISPs to help you find the answers to many FAQs plus detailed instructions for many common processes.
Latency is the reaction speed of a network connection – the time it takes to send data and receive a reply – measured in milliseconds (ms). If this is too high the resulting “lag” can be a problem for activities which rely on rapid communication, such as online gaming. This is not something most of us need to worry about as any fixed line home broadband service will, on average, have very low latency. But a satellite broadband connection will have a very high latency due to the time it takes to transfer data to and from orbit.
Bespoke technology providing an uncontended connection to the internet, or connection between two points.
This is a computing technique that shares the workload between machines, network links or other resources to improve resilience and reduce stress.
Media Access Control address. An identifier for hardware devices connected to a network.
Mb is an abbreviation of megabit. In terms of data storage a megabit (also abbreviated as Mb) is 1/8th the size of a megabyte. In relation to broadband speeds, this means a 1Mb connection will be able to transfer 1MB (megabyte) of data in eight seconds. When talking about the speed of a broadband connection the full phrase is megabits per second (Mbps), however as ‘Mb’ is currently the term most often linked with the measurement of internet speeds.
While megabits is typically used to describe data transmission speed, megabyte is most often used to describe the size of computer files and storage capacity (though a notable exception to this rule is the digital gaming service Steam, which measures its download rate in Megabytes Per Second). Officially, 1MB equals 1,000KB though it’s still common to see it defined as 1,024KB (which is now formally known as a mebibyte – MiB).
The piece of hardware you plug into your phone socket which splits your telephone line into a phone link and broadband link and allows both to be used simultaneously.
These offer security and redundancy. Two servers are set up in duplication, providing an automatic alternative if one fails. This set up helps ensure business continuity.
Short for modulator-demodulator – A piece of hardware which sends and receives signals through the internet which is connected to your phone line. A modem simply converts digital signals to analogue signals and vice versa allowing your computer (which is digital) to use the phone system (which is analogue)
This is a way of talking about redundancy or mirroring – the ability to automatically switch processing onto another server, storage facility or application in case of failure. It refers to a set up where two machines are running in tandem so that one can take over from the other if it fails.
Network Operations Centre – the central point of control for a computer or telecommunications network.
Operating system (OS)
Software which controls your computer and allows you to use it.
A work to describe online scamming. Often characterised by spam emails such as the infamous “lottery wins” or “security requests” for bank details. It’s a way of trying to obtain confidential information such as usernames, passwords or bank details by posing as a trustworthy source.
Post Office Protocol – an alternative to the IMAP system for email. It transfers the messages directly to your local computer, removing them from the server. It is therefore great for local access but doesn’t help with access via multiple devices.
Allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to understand how your service is performing, along with identifying potential areas of risk, typically 7 days a week, 24 hours a day . By proactively monitoring your internet connection ISPs can troubleshoot, fix faults more quickly and avoid errors altogether.
PSTN (public switched telephone network) is the world’s collection of interconnected voice-oriented public telephone networks, both commercial and government-owned. It’s also referred to as the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).
Random Access Memory. This is the most common type of memory found in computers, printers and other devices.
Another way of achieving resilience, redundancy simply means that you have a fallback option ready to go. If one device fails, the system will reboot onto another so the customer doesn’t notice any downtime.
As with mirrored servers, replication servers simply mean more than one server working together in tandem to achieve resilience by providing a seamless transfer in case of failure.
A term used to describe a method of ensuring continuity of service. Adding resilience to a network means having backup systems and hardware on standby.
As above, a resilient pair is just that – two of the same thing providing double protection against failure.
A router is a piece of hardware that enables messages to flow from the internet into your computer. Routers both link networks together and connect networks to the internet.
RSS feeds are a way to deliver regularly changing web content to the consumer. Many publishers allow you to follow their news by setting up RSS feeds automatically inform you of new content.
Storage Area Network – a dedicated network of storage devices connected by a high-speed data link. A SAN storage system increases security for data and helps raise storage capacity.
Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line. SDSL is an alternative to ADSL which offers synchronised speeds both up and down (as opposed to ADSL which usually has much faster download speeds).
Search Engine Optimisation. This refers to a technique used to help achieve a higher ranking for your website in online search engines. It’s a good marketing tool because it improves the visibility of the website and therefore the business.
A SIP trunk is a direct connection between your organization and an ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider). It enables you to extend VoIP telephony beyond your organisation’s firewall without the need for an IP-PSTN gateway.
Service Level Agreement. This is a service standard set by your provider which comes as a guarantee on a product or service you are buying.
A term referring to computer programs or associated data that provides the instructions for telling the computer what to do and how.
A type of malware (malicious software) that can infect your computer like a virus and collects information with your knowledge or consent.
A type of encryption to increase the security of data when it is transferred online.
Static IP addresses
Provision of a fixed IP address which identifies your computer on the internet so it can communicate with others. Generally your computer will make use of dynamic IP addresses which are assigned as and when you use it.
A way to describe a service such as SDSL – or any connection – which provides the same speeds up as down.
This term refers to internet service providers deliberately slowing internet connections. It is most commonly employed during peak broadband usage times, and against customers deemed to have overstepped their usage cap or fair usage policy.
Network or data traffic is a term for data being sent across a network.
The practice of controlling and managing data traffic across a network. Traffic management, or traffic shaping, can be benign and simply intended to improve performance for the majority of users. For example it may be implemented to prioritise bandwidth-heavy video streaming during busy periods. But aggressive traffic management used to throttle connections can cause a severe drop in performance for certain activities, particularly file sharing. While some ISPs no longer routinely use traffic management it is still in place on many services, so check this before you buy.
This is a measure of the actual working performance of a line. An “assured throughput” will guarantee you a certain rate of performance for a certain percentage of the time.
Essentially means un-shared. A contended line has more than one user using. An uncontended connection means you are the only person connecting to the internet on that line and should mean much faster speeds.
Also known as “upload speed”, the measure of upload capability (in Mbps) determines how much data can be uploaded to the internet per a second. This term also refers to the direction of traffic and means sending data from your computer to the internet.
A good measure of performance. Uptime means a device, application or server that is online, accessible and in working order. Downtime is the opposite – when something is unavailable and offline.
Stands for Uniform Resource Locator – but is just another way of describing the web address. Some URLs are domain names.
A measurement for the amount of data transferred up and down your internet connection whilst you use it. The majority of your usage is generally download use. Usage is measured in GB of data.
Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Lane – this provides faster transmission over a DSL line than the alternatives. This makes it ideal for high definition video streaming or VoIP telephony. This is the technology behind our business fibre products.
Virtual Dedicated Server
A virtualised, cloud-based server which has dedicated processing power and in-built resilience coupled with top of the range data storage and backup.
The process of creating a virtual machine which acts like a real computer with an operating system. Virtualisation allows High Availability because it makes an operating system available regardless of hardware failure. It does this by detaching the service (or server) from the physical hardware, allowing you to balance or move it across physical machines regardless of failure with minimal disruption.
Voice over IP refers to a telephony system which uses the internet rather than traditional analogue phone lines.
Virtual Private Networks are used by businesses to allow remote workers to access internal resources like software or files securely. It enables safe flexible working thanks to the encryption of data.
Wide Area Networks are those which span a large area, offering metropolitan, regional or even country-wide cover. In contract to LAN (Local Area Networks) which tend to be confined to a smaller, specific area relevant to that business, WANs are used to securely transfer information between sites or offices over a much greater geographical spread.
A type of internet hosting service which allows individuals or businesses to make their website available to all on the web.