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Telecommunications (Telecom) Terminology

The global telecommunications industry is full of acronyms, technical terms, slang and jargon. Find the meanings of common terminology used within the telecommunications industry below: 


A 2D (two-dimensional) barcode is a graphical image that stores information both horizontally — as one-dimensional bar codes do — and vertically. As a result of that construction, 2D codes can store up to 7,089 characters, significantly greater storage than is possible with the 20-character capacity of a unidimensional barcode. 


A retailer of telecommunications services who seeks to access to the services of the incumbent on a wholesale basis. 


Active Optical Network – a general term that describes any network configuration in which Multiplexors (MUXs), either in a Central Office or a cabinet are used to connect multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) via dark fibres. A Point to Point network is an AON with an emphasis on direct connection to each ONU, in which case each dark fibre provides a direct point-to-point physical connection between the MUX in a Central Office and each ONU. 


Business Gateway – a more sophisticated form of the Residential Gateway (RG) which is described below. BGs contain extra features and often have more physical connection points, which make them more suitable to some businesses than a standard RG. 


Broadband Network Gateway – a general term for a piece of network equipment that terminates Layer 2 Services at the Service Provider part of the Network. BNGs provide Service Providers with mechanisms for management of data traffic on a per End User basis. They are described in more detail in the TR-101 standard. 


Code Division Multiple Access – a US developed mobile phone standard. Originally second generation but upgraded to deliver third generation services to compatible handsets. 


Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH), established to manage the Government’s $1.5 billion investment in Ultra-Fast Broadband infrastructure. 


Committed Information Rate, meaning the rate of data transfer committed by the LFC to be provided as a minimum to end users. 


Central Office – The termination point for the Local Fibre Company’s (LFC) Network. The Central Office is where the OLTs and/or MUXs (as applicable) are installed. Central Offices are expected to connect to at least several thousand End User premises. 


Space and associated services such as power, cooling, access, lighting etc. at the CO. 


Customer Premises Equipment, such as routers or wireless modems. 


Cents per minute. 


Optical fibre physical infrastructure without any active equipment attached. Dark, as it has no source of light inherent in the network design. 


A self-contained packet of data that carries with it the source and destination information for correct routing via a packet-switch network. 


Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification – an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer over an existing HFC network. 


Data transfer from the Internet to the user, also known as “download”. 


Digital subscriber line – method of transmitting high speed data and voice simultaneously over a copper phone line. 


Ethernet Aggregation Switch – a specialised piece of network equipment used to aggregate data traffic to/from many Multiplexors (MUXs) or Optical Line Terminals (OLTs). EASs provide a connection mechanism to Broadband Network Gateways (BNGs). 


Described by the IEEE 802.3 standards, “Ethernet” is a particular style of data traffic management and formatting for Layer 2 Services, and is increasingly being established as the dominant Layer 2 Service technology throughout the world. 


Enhanced Unbundled Bitstream Service – a regulated Layer 2 Service in the New Zealand market today. 


Fibre To The Business / Fibre To The Home / Fibre To The Premise – generic terms for any broadband network architecture which deploys optical fibre all the way to the relevant end-user premise. 


Fibre To The Cabinet / Fibre To The Node – generic terms for broadband network architecture which deploys optical fibre to terminate in a streets cabinet or nodes up to some distance away from end-user premises, with the final connection to end-user premises typically being provided by legacy copper technology. 


GPON Encapsulation Method – a mechanism for the management of data traffic transport between multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) and an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) in a GPON network configuration. 


Gigabit Passive Optical Network – a specific standard for connection of Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) to multiple Optical Network Units (ONUs) in which groups of ONUs are connected to an OLT using a shared dark fibre configuration. This is described in the ITU-T G.984 standard. 


A specialised piece of network equipment that connects a single dark fibre from one side to many dark fibres on the other. It is used in the GPON network configuration to allow many Optical Network Units (ONUs) to share a single port on an Optical Line terminal (OLT) – hence the use of the word “Splitter” – splitting one dark fibre into many. 


Global System for Mobile communications – a widely used digital, second generation mobile phone standard. 


An as-yet-to-be-determined information tag than can be used for identifying a physical network point at which the LFC’s Layer 2 Service is “connected” to the network equipment that is owned and operated by a Service Provider. 


Hybrid fibre-coaxial – a broadband network which combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. HFC has been commonly deployed globally by cable TV operators since the early 1990s, and in New Zealand by TelstraClear in Wellington and Christchurch. 


Internet Protocol – method that computers use to communicate over the internet. 


Internet Services Provider. 


Invitation to Participate in the partner selection process for the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative. 


International Telecommunication Union. 


Services that operate at Layer 1 of the Open Systems Interconnection Model of network architecture. Layer 1 is normally associated with passive fibre optic network infrastructure. Often known as “dark fibre” or “unlit” services. 


Services that operate at Layer 2 of the Open Systems Interconnection Model of network architecture. Layer 2 is normally associated with active fibre optic network infrastructure (the electronics that light fibre). Often known as “lit” services. 


A local fibre company, being an entity in which Crown Fibre Holdings, the Government and a partner will hold shares, and through which the investment of Crown Fibre Holdings and the partner in relation to the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative will be effected. 


Multi-dwelling unit. 


Mobile termination access services, which for the purposes of the Commission’s recent MTAS investigation, were mobile-to-mobile termination, fixed-to-mobile termination and termination of SMS messages. 


Multi Unit Complex. 


Multiplexor – a general term used to describe a piece of network equipment that terminates many dark fibres in an Active Optical Network (AON) configuration, and is installed in centralised locations within the LFC business. 


Mobile virtual network operator – An MVNO is an operator that provides mobile phone service but does not have its own licensed frequency allocation of radio spectrum, nor does it have the entire infrastructure required to provide mobile telephone service. 


Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that uses IT virtualization related technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into various building blocks that may be connected or chained, to create communication services. 

NFV relies upon, but differs from, traditional server virtualization techniques such as those used in enterprise IT organizations. A virtualized network function, or VNF, may consist of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes, on top of industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, or even cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function. 

For example, a virtualized session border controller function could be deployed to protect a network without the typical cost and complexity of obtaining and installing physical units. Other examples of NFV include virtualized load balancers, firewalls, intrusion detection devices and WAN accelerators. 


Optical Distribution Network – a general term for the specialised dark fibre configuration of a GPON network in which many ONUs share a single dark fibre for connection to an OLT. 


Optical Line Terminal – a general term for a specialised piece of GPON network equipment that terminates many dark fibres and is installed in centralised locations within the LFC Network. An OLT terminates the dark fibres from many Optical Network Units (ONUs). 


Optical Network Terminal. 


Optical Network Unit – a general term for a specialised piece of network equipment that terminates a single dark fibre and is located at the End User premises. 


Private Automatic Branch Exchange – a business phone system. 


Priority bit(s) – a data traffic priority value between 0 and 7 set in the 3-bit tag field of the C-VLAN-ID and/or S-VLAN-ID fields (both of these fields can carry P-bit values). 


Point of Interconnect. 


Point to Point Protocol is a computer network protocol used to transfer a datagram between two directly connected (point-to-point) computers. 


Residential Gateway – a mass produced piece of network equipment (often referred to as “the customer’s modem”) which sits in the home or office, connects to the Layer 2 Service on one side, and to the End User’s equipment (PCs, telephones, etc) on the other. 


Subscriber Identity Module – commonly known as a SIM card that contains a microchip that stores data that identifies the user, for use in GSM and compatible 3G mobile phones. 


Subscriber Identity Module – commonly known as a SIM card that contains a microchip that stores data that identifies the user, for use in GSM and compatible 3G mobile phones. 


Short Message Service – commonly known as a text messaging, is a service for sending short messages between mobile devices. 


Small Office/Home Office. 


Standard Terms Determination – the terms on which a designated access or specified service must be supplied by access providers to all access seekers 53 requesting the service. 


Telecommunications service obligations – an obligation to supply certain telecommunications services to groups of end-users who may not otherwise be supplied on a commercial basis or at a price that is considered to be affordable. 


Unbundled Bitstream Access – a regulated service giving wholesale access to Telecom’s DSL full speed broadband service although a commercial variant with a slower speed is also available. 


Unbundled Bitstream Service – a service no longer regulated that gives wholesale access to Telecom’s DSL broadband service. When regulated, the service had its upstream speed limited to 128 kbps. 


Unbundled Copper Local Loop – wholesale access to the copper line connecting a phone user to the local exchange. 


Ultra-Fast Broadband – a broadband service which delivers speeds in excess of 25 Mbps.“For the purposes of the NZ Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, having access to UFB is taken to mean the availability of broadband services at a minimum speed of 100 Mbps Downstream (from the Internet to the user) and a minimum of 50 Mbps Upstream (from user to the Internet). Source: Crown Fibre website. 


Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) – the 3G successor to the 2G GSM standard. The most common form of UMTS uses WCDMA as the underlying air interface. 


User-Network Interface. 


Data transfer from the user to the Internet, also known as “upload”. 


Voice over Internet Protocol – a way of sending voice calls over a data connection like a broadband connection. 


Wide Area Network – a computer network covering a broad area, typically crossing metropolitan, regional, or even national boundaries. 


Wideband Code Division Multiple Access – a third generation mobile phone standard often provided as a progression from the GSM standard. 

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