Glossary

Wireless technology is evolving at such a pace that it is often difficult to keep up with the latest terms and acronyms. This section of the site aims to resolve this by clearly defining and explaining the terms and technologies.

Airtime
AMPS
Analogue
Authentication
Bandwidth
Battery
Blocked SIM card
Broadband
Call Barring
Call Divert
Call Hold
Call Restriction
Call Wait
Call Identification
CDMA
Cell
Cellular
D-AMPS
Data/Fax Capabilities
DCS 1800
Digital
Dual Band
Dual Mode
Frequency
GSM
GSM 900
GSM 1800
GSM 1900
IMEI
Incoming Call
Keypad Lock
Li-Ion
Local Service Area
Memory Effect
Messaging
Modulation
N-AMPS (Narrowband AMPS)
Narrowband PCS
Network
NiCd
NiMH
Off-Peak Hours
PCN
PCS-1900
Peak Hours
PUK
Roaming
SIM Card
SMS
Stand By Time
TDMA
Tri-band

Airtime
The time tracked by wireless service providers to determine billing charges. Usage includes sending or receiving calls and other wireless transmission such as faxes, e-mail or data files. Some service providers may charge for a whole minute if only part of a minute is used.
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AMPS
Advanced Mobile Phone System - an analog mobile phone network that is used mainly in the US and also Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Russia and Asia-Pacific
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Analogue
A transmission method or way of sending voice, video and data using signals (such as electricity or sound waves) that are continuously variable rather than discreet units as in digital transmissions. In the context of wireless communications, analogue refers to transmission networks built in the 1980s and that use analogue technology rather than digital.
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Authentication
The process that enables mobile phones and service providers to confirm the identity of any phone placing and receiving a call, allowing route of call, accurate billing and inhibiting unauthorized usage of the system.
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Bandwidth
The width or capacity of a communications channel. Analogue bandwidth is measured in Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Digital bandwidth is the amount or volume of data that may be sent through a channel, measured in bits per second, without distortion. Bandwidth should not be confused with the term "band", such as a wireless phone that operates on the 800 MHz band. Bandwidth is the space it occupies on that band. The relative importance of bandwidth in wireless communications is that the size, or bandwidth, of a channel will impact transmission speed. Lots of data flowing through a narrow channel takes longer than the same amount of data flowing through a broader channel.
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Battery
The power source for a wireless phone. Rechargeable batteries such as nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion are used in wireless phones and communication devices.
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Blocked SIM Card
A SIM card is a small printed circuit board that must be inserted in any GSM-based mobile phone when signing on as a subscriber. Entering your PIN code incorrectly three times will block your SIM card as a security measure, preventing unauthorized use of your phone. To unlock your card, you will need to enter a PUK code.
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Broadband
A term used to compare frequency bandwidth relative to 3 MHz narrowband frequencies. Broadband frequencies can transmit more data and at a higher speed than narrowband frequencies. In general, typical paging services utilise narrowband frequencies. Wireless phones and communication devices use broadband.
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Call Barring
Enables you to restrict or bar certain or all types of calls to and from your mobile phone, i.e. outgoing calls, outgoing international calls, incoming calls. Barring is activated with a personal code. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Call Divert
Enables you to divert incoming calls to another phone or answering service. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Call Hold
Enables you to put a caller on hold while a second call is answered or made. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Call Restriction
Enables you to restrict or bar certain or all types of calls to and from your mobile phone, i.e. outgoing calls, outgoing international calls, incoming calls. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Call Transfer
Enables you to transfer a caller to another number. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Call Wait
If your line is busy, callers are asked to wait while you are alerted to their incoming call. This is extremely useful if you are waiting for an important call, yet still wish to use your phone. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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Caller Identification (or CLI)
Shows the number of the person calling you in your mobile phone's display. You can then make an informed choice as to whether or not to take the call. Bear in mind that not all numbers can be displayed. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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CDMA
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is one of several digital wireless transmission methods in which signals are encoded using a pseudo-random sequence - which corresponds to a different communication channel - that the receiver also knows and can use to decode the received signal. CDMA is one of several "spread spectrum" techniques. CDMA offers improvements over analogue transmission in the areas of reduced call dropping, battery power conservation, more secure transmission and increased service options.
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Cell
The geographic area encompassing the signal range from one base station (a site containing a radio transmitter/receiver and network communication equipment). Wireless transmission networks are comprised of many hexagonal, overlapping cell sites to efficiently use radio spectrum for wireless transmissions. Also, the basis for the term "cellular phone."
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Cellular
In wireless communications, cellular refers most basically to the structure of the wireless transmission networks which are comprised of cells or transmission sites. Cellular is also the name of the wireless telephone system originally developed by Bell Laboratories that used low-powered analogue radio equipment to transmit within cells. The term "cellular phone" is used interchangeably to refer to wireless phones. Within the wireless industry, cellular is also used to refer to non-PCS products and services.
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D-AMPS
Has been renamed TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access). TDMA is a digital mobile phone network that operates in the US, Latin America, New Zealand, parts of Russia and Asia Pacific. Ericsson's TDMA mobile phones also work on AMPS networks.
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Data/Fax Capability
Your mobile phone can be used to send and receive fax and data files, access the Internet and send e-mail when connected to mobile office equipment. To use this service, it must be supported by your network and by your phone. You may also have to add this service to your subscription.
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DCS 1800
Digital Communications System based on GSM, working on a radio frequency of 1800 MHz. Also known as GSM1800 or PCN, this digital network operates in Europe and Asia Pacific.
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Digital
Using a binary code - discrete, non-continuous values - to represent information. Analogue information can be converted into a digital format.
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Dual Band
Dual band technology enables a network operator with spectrum at both 900MHz and 1800MHz to support the seamless use of dual band handsets across both frequencies. By supporting seamless handovers between 900MHz and 1800MHz, dual band networks can provide major benefits in terms of capacity enhancement and revenue optimisation through the introduction of new services.
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Dual Mode
Dual mode mobile phones work on more than one network (for example, digital and analog) - this is extremely useful if you want the advantages of a digital phone, but regularly visit areas where analog is the only service available.
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Frequency
The rate at which an electrical current alternates, usually measured in Hertz (Hz). Also the way to note a general location on the radio frequency spectrum such as 800 MHz, 900 MHz or 1900 MHz.
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GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication)
GSM is the pan-European standard for digital cellular telephone service. GSM networks will be built as an alternative to current AMPS systems and in the future and will support enhanced data applications. GSM was designed for European markets to provide the advantage of automatic, international roaming in multiple countries. The SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card is a vital component in GSM operation. The user can store all relevant data for the phone on a removable plastic card. The card can be plugged into any GSM compatible phone and the phone is instantly personalized to the user.
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GSM 900
GSM 900, or just GSM, is the world's most widely used digital network and now operating in over 100 countries around the world, particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific.
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GSM 1800
Also known as DCS 1800 or PCN , GSM 1800 is a digital network working on a frequency of 1800 MHz. It is used in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Australia.
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GSM 1900
Also known as PCS 1900, GSM 1900 is a digital network working on a frequency of 1900 MHz. It is used in the US and Canada and is scheduled for parts of Latin America anda Africa.
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IMEI
The International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) is a 15-digit number (composed of four parts) that uniquely identifies an individual wireless phone or communicator. The IMEI appears on the label located on the back of the phone. The IMEI is automatically transmitted by the phone when the network asks for it. A network operator might request the IMEI to determine if a device is in disrepair, stolen or to gather statistics on fraud or faults.
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Incoming Call
A call placed by another party to your wireless phone. In virtually all current wireless phone service plans, the owner of the wireless phone pays for all calls, both incoming (calls from others) and outgoing (placed by you).
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Keypad Lock
The keypad lock feature provided on some mobile phones allows the user to disable the keys so that a number will not accidentally be dialed while the phone is in your pocket or purse.
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Li-Ion
Refers to a type of battery, a Lithium-Ion battery, used to power wireless communication devices. Li-Ion batteries are lighter weight than earlier battery types, have a relatively long cycle life and generally do not suffer from memory effect.
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Local Service Area
The geographic area that telephones may call without incurring roaming or long distance charges.
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Memory Effect
The life of a battery may be gradually shortened if it is recharged before it is completely discharged. Memory effect most commonly occurs with Nickel Cadmium batteries, is less of a problem with Nickel Hydride batteries and even less with Lithium Ion batteries.
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Messaging
Using various products, services and technologies to transfer messages from one person to another, or from one device to another such as traditional numeric or alphanumeric paging, e-mail or short messages (SMS) delivered to wireless devices.
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Modulation
The process of coding and decoding information for transmission. For example, a voice conversation is coded into binary bits (digital information), transmitted and then decoded at the receiving end.
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N-AMPS (Narrowband AMPS)
Narrowband Advanced Mobile Phone Service. Combines the AMPS transmission standard with digital signalling information to effectively triple the capacity of AMPS while adding basic messaging functionality.
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Narrowband PCS
Mobile and portable radio (including paging) services such as two-way paging, acknowledgement paging, voice paging and data services. These services are transmitted over a set of frequencies set aside by the FCC in 1994.
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Network
In the wireless industry, a network refers to the infrastructure enabling the transmission of wireless signals. A network ties things together and enables resource sharing.
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NiCd
A Nickel Cadmium or NiCd battery is durable, rechargeable and typically lasts for 700 charge and discharge cycles. If not completely discharged before recharging, the NiCd battery can suffer from memory effect that may reduce the life of the battery.
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NiMH
A Nickel Metal Hydride Battery, also referred to as a Ni-MH or NiMH battery, is a rechargeable battery that is capable of holding more power that a NiCd battery and suffers much less from memory effect. It is also typically more expensive than a NiCd battery.
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Off-Peak Hours
Typically hours after the business day (usually after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. local time) and on weekends when wireless networks have less demand for transmission. Service providers often offer lower per-minute rates to calls placed and received during off-peak hours.
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PCN
Personal Communications Network - also known as the DCS 1800 standard or GSM 1800. It is used in Europe and Asia Pacific.
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PCS 1900
Personal Communications Service working on a radio frequency of 1900 MHz. PCS 1900, also known as GSM 1900, is a digital system used in parts of the US and Canada and is scheduled for parts of America and Africa.
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Peak Hours
Typically during the business day when the demand for access to wireless networks is high. Service providers typically charge full-service per-minute rates during peak hours.
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PUK
Personal Unblocking Code - used to unlock a blocked SIM card. This is delivered together with your subscription.
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Roaming
Using a wireless phone outside of your service provider's local coverage area or home calling area is referred to as roaming. Roaming arrangements between service providers expand the potential area for phone use. Service providers typically charge a higher per-minute fee for calls placed outside their home calling or coverage area.  Roaming within your home network, this means that your mobile phone automatically sets up communication procedures with different radio base stations when on the move. International roaming means that you can use networks other than your own when traveling abroad.
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SIM Card
Subscriber Identity Module card - a small printed circuit board that must be inserted in any GSM-based mobile phone when signing on as a subscriber. It contains subscriber details, security information and memory for a personal directory of numbers. The card can be a small plug-in type or sized as a credit-card but has the same functionality. The SIM card also stores data that identifies the caller to the network service provider.
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SMS
Short Message Service is a feature available with some wireless phones that allow users to send and/or receive short alphanumeric messages.
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Standby Time
The length of time a wireless phone or communicator is fully charged, turned on and ready to send and receive calls or data transmissions. Standby time, once stated in only hours and minutes, can now be extended to many days with current phone models. Standby time is affected by the amount of time the phone is used for talking because talking on a phone draws more energy from a battery than standby time does. Wireless devices depend on batteries for power; batteries slowly discharge their power and must be recharged and eventually replaced.
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TDMA
TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) is a digital mobile phone network that operates in the US, Latin America, New Zealand, parts of Russia and Asia Pacific. Ericsson's TDMA mobile phones also work on AMPS networks. Networks using TDMA assign 6 timeslots for each frequency channel. Devices using the wireless network send bursts of information that are reassembled at the receiving end.
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Tri-band
A tri-band cellular phone will operate on three different frequencies, depending on the available network. In Europe the GSM frequencies used are 900MHz and 1800MHz. American GSM, or PCS, operates at 1900MHz.
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