Telecommunications 101: the nbn dictionary

Published: July 13, 2017

Don’t know your FTTN from your FTTP? It’s easy to feel out of your depth when you take the plunge into the vast sea of tech jargon! As the nbn rolls out across Australia you may hear some common lingo thrown around so it’s worth taking a moment to get in-the-know.

ADSL – this is one you’ll hear a lot, because an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is a common type of DSL broadband. It’s a way to connect to the internet, transmitting data over established copper phone lines (instead of conventional voiceband modem lines).

ATM – nope, not an automated teller machine, this is Asynchronous Transfer Mode, which is a set of protocols for transmitting digital data using computer networks.

Bandwidth – this is the travel speed of data transmission, to and from your computer, so the higher the number the faster it is. It can be measured digitally in “kilobits” (one thousand bits per second / kbps), “megabits” (one million bits per second / mbps) or “gigabits” (one thousand million bits per second / gbps). The terms come from a “bit” which is one of the smallest measurements in computing – basically a “1” or a “0”.

Bitstream – this is a stream of data being converted for compatibility, such as digital to analogue. It takes place in simple data transfer products including CD players and TVs.

Broadband – this means high speed internet that’s always available. In the past it was defined as being a service that was superior in speed to dial-up internet using a modem. Lately it’s assumed to be equivalent or better than ADSL (which typically has at least a 265 kbps download speed and 64 kbps upload speed).

Byte – instead of data speed, this one is more about measuring data storage. A byte equals eight bits, so it’s worth paying attention to these numbers when you’re making a download or sending a file attachment via email. Videos will usually be significantly larger in size than photos or text files. A “megabyte” (MB) is one million bytes. A common digital camera photo size could be two to three MB, and a short video clip might be four to eight MB.
CPE – the Customer Premises Equipment is the gear at a customer’s place, including their computer, modem and wiring.

Distribution Fibre – the fibre connecting the FDH and FAN in regional and metropolitan areas.

Distribution Network – where and how the Distribution Fibre is connected.

Download – this is a very common word that just means transferring data from one computer to another. It happens in all kinds of daily activities, whether it’s viewing an email, streaming a video on YouTube, chatting on Facebook Messenger or simply loading up any web page.

Drop Fibre – the fibre that is located between the NAP and the customer’s premises.

DSL – you’ve heard of ADSL, and this is the broad term used to describe that group of technologies, called “Digital Subscriber Line”. It delivers high speed internet through your phone line, with voice and data at the same time.

Ethernet – this is when computers are locally networked together using cable. It’s often used as a high speed solution in business environments.

FAN – the active equipment providing services to FSA is the Fibre Access Node.

FDA – Addresses are connected to the FAN and the area is served using a FDH at a Fibre Distribution Hub.

FDH – The optical splitters are housed in the Fibre Distribution Hub.

FSA – The Fibre Serving Area is supported by a FAN site within the FDA, connected through Distribution Fibre.

FTTB – Fibre to the Building is a high speed broadband and voice service where a physical and fixed line is run to multi-dwelling buildings e.g. apartment blocks.

FTTN – Fibre to the Node (or neighbourhood) is when the network signal travels over optic fibre from the exchange to a nearby cabinet on the street (FTTC / Fibre to the Cabinet), finally connecting with the existing copper network to reach you and your neighbours.

FTTP – Fibre to the Premises means a network device is installed within your home, as the subscriber, and an optic fibre line will reach you from the closest available fibre node or network box.

IP Addressing – Internet protocols assign a numerical address to every computer to host or identify a network or its location.

ISP – an Internet Service Provider offers internet access services and solutions to customers.

Latency – this is where there is lag on data moving from one place to another.

MDU – a Multi Dwelling Unit is where multiple individuals or people groups reside, e.g. an apartment block.

NAP – A Network Access Point is a place where internet service providers can connect to each other in various arrangements.

POP-1 – Applications can retrieve email from a mail server through Post Office Protocol. POP can also mean Point of Presence, a location where a network can be connected. PPP (Point to Point Protocol) connects home computers to the internet over standard phone lines, PPPOA is Point to Point Protocol over ATM and PPPOE is Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet.

POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service, usually restricted to speeds of about 52 kbps, is the standard phone service, which is different to high speed digital communication lines with higher bandwidth.

Satellite – a broadband satellite connection may be recommended for remote locations outside the metropolitan area. A home radio link and radio dish bounce a signal off a satellite and down to an earth station. These can be two or one way connections (upload and/or download), used for fast internet access and/or phone calls.

Wireless – Data transfer for digital devices and computers using radio frequencies instead of cabling, involving connection to a base station, similar to a mobile phone tower.

For more info about Australia’s National Broadband Network (nbn), check out the website

Other articles

3 inexpensive AV tips that make all the difference

3 inexpensive AV tips that make all the difference

Is your TV protected against a lightning strike? Do you suffer from glare on your screen? Is your coffee table covered in confusing remote controls? We’ve put together three practical and simple tips that can make a huge difference to your audio visual setup.

read more
Keeping your technology physically clean

Keeping your technology physically clean

We depend on smartphones, laptops and tablets every day for working, personal admin and having fun – but how often do we clean them properly? Regularly cleaning the shell of your devices will not only save wear and tear so they look shiny and new, but it can also prevent germs and bacteria.

read more