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wireless glossary

The following terms are some of the most widely used in the wireless communications industry. For more information, see each full definition.

First generation cellular (analog). See cellular generations.

Second generation cellular (digital). See cellular generations.

2.5G, 2G+
Interim stage between 2G and 3G, providing faster data services. See cellular generations.

Third generation cellular: digital plus high-speed data and global roaming. Known as IMT-2000 by the ITU and implemented in Europe as UMTS and CDMA2000 in North America. See cellular generations.

Fourth generation cellular: WiMAX and LTE technologies. See WiMAX, cellular generations and LTE.

IEEE standard for authentication. See 802.1X.

IEEE standards for Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi at 5 GHz with speeds up to 54 Mbps. See 802.11.

Fastest Wi-Fi at 5 GHz with speeds in the gigabit range. See 802.11ac.

Wi-Fi at 2.4 GHz with speeds up to 11 Mbps. See 802.11.

Wi-Fi at 2.4 GHz with speeds up to 54 Mbps. See 802.11.

Wi-Fi standard for wireless security. Supersedes WEP and WPA. See 802.11i.

Wi-Fi at 150 Mbps and higher. Uses MIMO technology. See 802.11n and MIMO.

IEEE standards for wireless PANs (WPAN). See 802.15.

IEEE standards for fixed wireless ("last mile"). See 802.16.

access point
A base station that plugs into an Ethernet hub, switch or server. Like a cellular phone system cell, users can roam between access points. See wireless LAN.

air card
A cellular wireless adapter. See cellular modem.

air interface
An air modulation scheme, equivalent to physical layer in OSI model. See air interface.

Analog Mobile Phone System - The earlier analog cellphone system in the U.S. See AMPS.

Prior name of DataTAC network. See DataTAC.

authentication server
A server that contains usernames and passwords and authorizes access to the network. See 802.1X.

The device that allows or blocks access to the network. See 802.1X.

Wireless personal area network (PAN) standard geared for home and office. Uses 2.4 GHz band at 720 Kbps within 30 foot range. See Bluetooth and Bluetooth glossary.

broadband wireless
High-speed wireless transmission. See wireless broadband.

(Code Division Multiple Access) Qualcomm's spread spectrum air interface method. It codes each conversation expanding it 128 times, which makes it easier to decipher at receiving end. See CDMA.

The CDMA Development Group's trademark for CDMA networks. See IS-95.

First 3G technology that provided up to 2.4 Mbps for voice and data. See CDMA2000.

(Cellular Digital Packet Data) Earlier packet overlay on analog cellphone network. Provides 19.2 Kbps and deployed by AT&T and several other carriers. See CDPD.

Wireless phone calls via cell towers. See cellular generations.

cellular hotspot
Turns a smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. See cellular hotspot.

cellular modem
3G or 4G service for a computer. See cellular modem.

Earlier low-speed packet data network from Motient noted for its deep penetration within buildings (formerly ARDIS). See DataTAC.

European cordless telephone standard. See DECT.

dispatch radio
Two-way radio used for taxis, trucks and fleets. Always on. See two-way radio.

dual-mode handset
Cellphone that switches from analog to digital or from land based to satellite or from cordless to cellular.

(Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution) The slower data rate in GSM and TDMA systems, up to 384 Kbps. See cellular generations.

Ethernet adapter
Printed circuit board that adds Ethernet to a computer. See Ethernet adapter.

Free Space Optics
Using infrared lasers to transmit through the air. See free space optics.

Second major LEO-based global communications system. Initially for voice, it was launched in late 1999. See Globalstar.

(General Packet Radio Service) Adding IP packets to GSM. See cellular generations.

(Global System for Mobile Communications) Digital TDMA-based cellphone system that started in Europe. Introduced SIM card and short messaging (SMS). See GSM.

(Handheld Device Markup Language) Forerunner of WML, developed by

(High Data Rate) A high-speed CDMA data technology from Qualcomm for existing cdmaOne voice networks or new data networks. Provides 2.4 Mbps/384 Kbps asymmetric operation. See HDR.

European wireless LAN standard at 24 Mbps in the 5 GHz band. Similar to Ethernet but with quality of service (QoS). See HIPERLAN.

Earlier wireless personal area network (PAN). Used 2.4 GHz band at 1 or 2 Mbps within 150 foot range. See HomeRF.

The transmission range of a Wi-Fi network. See Wi-Fi hotspot.

High-speed 3G and 4G cellular service. See HSPA.

(Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) A wireless system from Motorola that integrates voice, data, short messages and dispatch radio. Used by Nextel and others. See iDEN.

Packet-based information service for mobile phones from NTT DoCoMo (Japan). First to provide Web browsing from cellphones. See i-mode.

3G wireless from the ITU. See IMT-2000.

The first LEO-based global communications system. Launched in 1998, went into Chapter 11 in 1999 and resurrected in 2000. See Iridium.

First-generation TDMA in 1991. See TDMA.

Standard for CDMA networks. See CDMA and IS-95.

Second-generation TDMA in 1994. Also called "Digital AMPS" or "D-AMPS." See IS-136.

ISM band
(Industrial, Scientific and Medical band) Unlicensed spectrum typically in the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.7 GHz bands. Requires spread spectrum techniques at 1 watt. See ISM band.

(Instructional TV Fixed Service) Licensed spectrum in the 2.5-2.6 GHz band.

(Local Multipoint Distribution Service) Licensed spectrum above 20 GHz. Range is about four miles. See LMDS.

4G cellular tecnology. See 4G and cellular generations.

(Multipoint Distribution Service) Licensed spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band.

A Web browser specialized for a smartphone or PDA. See smartphone.

mobile broadband router
Device that creates a hotspot from 3G/4G service. See mobile broadband router.

(Multipoint Multichannel Distribution Service) Licensed spectrum in the 2.5-2.6 GHz band. Range is 30 miles or more. See MMDS.

(Metropolitan Service Area) An urban area with at least 50,000 people plus surrounding counties. There are 306 MSAs and 428 RSAs in U.S.

Nationwide wireless operator that acquired numerous SMR companies and merged with Sprint. See Nextel.

(Near Field Communication) Very close range wireless. See NFC.

(Near Field Magnetic Induction) Very close range wireless. See NFMI.

(Nordic Mobile Telephone) First analog cellphone system in 1979 in Scandinavian countries.

Wireless division of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Japan. See NTT DoCoMo.

Earlier wireless LAN standard based on Proxim's RangeLAN2 products. See OpenAir.

Openwave Systems (formerly
Major contributor to WAP and leader in microbrowsers and WAP gateways/application servers. See Openwave.

Optical Wireless Communication
Transmitting light pulses through the air. See optical wireless communication.

(Personal Area Network) A wireless network that serves an individual user. See WPAN.

(Personal Communications Service) Digital cellphone systems in 2 GHz range. Mostly GSM. See PCS.

(Personal Digital Communications) Digital cellphone system in Japan. See PDC.
Former name of Openwave Systems. See Openwave.

(Personal Handyphone System) Microcellular phone service introduced in Japan in mid-1995. See PHS.

RAM network
Earlier name for BellSouth Network. See BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network.

Earlier wireless LAN geared for office from Proxim. See RangeLAN.

An early wireless Internet service initially deployed in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Washington, D.C. See Ricochet.

rogue access point
An unauthorized access point either put in place by employees or attackers. See rogue access point.

(Rural Service Area) There are 428 RSAs and 306 MSAs in the U.S. See MSA.

short messaging
Sending small text messages to cellphones. GSM pioneered Short Message Service (SMS), now used in all digital cellphones. See SMS.

SIM card
Smart card that gives cellphone its user identity. Allows phones to be easily rented or borrowed. See SIM card.

A digital cellular phone that is also a handheld general-purpose computer. See smartphone.

(Specialized Mobile Radio) Dispatch radio for taxis, trucks and fleets. Nextel aggregated many SMR companies. See SMR and Nextel.

(Short Messaging Service) GSM coined the phrase, but similar text messaging is used in most digital cellphone systems. See GSM.

The client in a wireless authentication session. See 802.1X.

(Shared Wireless Access Protocol) Protocol used in HomeRF. See HomeRF.

Wireless LAN geared for the home from Proxim. See Symphony.

A general-purpose computer contained in a single panel. See tablet computer.

(Total Access Communications System) Analog cellphone system in Europe based on AMPS. See TACS.

(Time Division Multiple Access) Air interface for digital cellphones that interleaves data in time slots. See TDMA.

travel router
A compact device for creating hotspots from cellular service. See cellular hotspot.

(Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) European implementation of 3G. See UMTS.

Former name of Openwave's microbrowser. Versions for HDML and WML are available. See Openwave Mobile Browser.

UP.Link Server
Former name of Openwave's WAP gateway and application server. See Openwave Mobile Access Gateway.

3G data rates for TDMA. See UWC-136.

(Wireless Access Protocol) A wireless communications environment for delivering Web data to wireless terminals with minimal screen display. See WAP.

WAP gateway
Software that takes raw WML data and compiles it for the microbrowser and vice versa. See WAP.

(Wideband CDMA) A 3G data service for GSM carriers. See WCDMA.

(Windows Connect Now) A simpler method for configuring new devices in a Wi-Fi network. See Windows Connect Now.

(Wireless Communications Service) Licensed spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band.

Web clipping
Excerpting relevant information from a Web page for display on a smartphone or PDA.

First 802.11 security protocol, which was superseded by WPA and 802.11i. See WEP.

Transmitting multimedia signals wireless at 5 GHz within a room. See WHDI.

(Wireless Bree) Ultra-low power version of Bluetooth. See Bluetooth.

A local wireless network. See Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Calling
Making phone calls over an 802.11 Wi-Fi network. See Wi-Fi calling.

Transmitting multimedia signals wireless at 60 GHz within a room. See WiGig.

A high-speed 4G broadband service (IEEE 802.16 standard). See WiMAX and wireless broadband.

(Wireless Intelligent Network) Transaction processing infrastructure for wireless systems. See WIN.

wireless adapter
A device that adds wireless to a desktop or laptop machine. See wireless adapter.

wireless bridge
A device used to transmit and receive radio frequencies over the air between two LANs.

wireless broadband
High-speed wireless transmission. See wireless broadband.

wireless charging
Transmitting power to a device over the air. See wireless charging.

wireless gateway
A wireless base station that allows sharing of a single Internet connection. See wireless gateway.

wireless home phone
Using a cellular data plan with a regular phone at home. See wireless home phone.

Transmitting multimedia signals wireless at 60 GHz within a room. See WirelessHD.

wireless headset
A telephone headset that transmits wireless to a base station. See headset.

wireless LAN
A local area network that uses radio frequency transmission over the air. Wi-Fi is the standard, and it works like a cellular phone system. See wireless LAN and Wi-Fi.

wireless modem
Modem and antenna for analog and digital cellphones, CDPD, DataTAC, BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network, etc. See wireless modem.

wireless network
Any communications system that transmits over the air. See wireless network.

wireless portal
A website that supports users with smartphones or alphanumeric pagers. See wireless portal.

wireless repeater
A device that extends the range of a wireless signal. See range extender and Wi-Fi extender.

wireless reseller
An organization that sells wireless services under its own name, but uses the mobile networks of other service providers.

wireless router
A network device that combines Wi-Fi, a LAN switch and router in one box. See wireless router.

wireless service provider (WSP)
Any organization that delivers wireless services to its customers.

wireless USB (WUSB)
Wireless version of USB using ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. Used to transmit the content of a laptop screen to a TV set. See wireless USB.

wireless WAN
A wide area network that uses radio frequency transmission of data over the air. It is typically provided by the cellular carriers. See wireless WAN.

An ISP that provides wireless connectivity. See WISP.

Technology for making wireless LANs function like a cellphone system. See WISPr.

See wireless LAN.

(Wireless LAN Interoperability Forum) Earlier membership group that endorsed OpenAir. See WLIF.

(Wireless Markup Language) Language used to design WAP Web pages. See WML.

(Wi-Fi Multimedia) Prioritization of data in Wi-Fi networks. See Wi-Fi Multimedia.

(Wi-Fi Protected Access) Wi-Fi Alliance standard for wireless security. Supersedes WEP. WPA provides partial support of 802.11i; WPA2 provides full support. See WPA.

(Wireless Personal Area Network) A wireless network that serves an individual user. See WPAN.

(Wireless PBX) A PBX that supports cordless telephone calls.

(Wi-Fi Protected Setup) A simpler method for configuring new devices in a Wi-Fi network. See Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

End of Wireless Glossary

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