Glossary of Terms


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The telecommunications and fiber industries are full of terms and acronyms. Our glossary of terms attempts to capture some of them.

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Backhaul: A general term for the segment of a network between the core and the edge. An example: the connection from a community network hub in a small town to a carrier hotel where it connects to the Internet backbone.

Bandwidth: The rate at which the network can transmit information across it. Generally, higher bandwidth is desirable. The amount of bandwidth available to you can determine whether you download a photo in 2 seconds or 2 minutes.

BHOL: See Busy Hour Offered Load.

Bit: The base unit of information in computing. For our purposes, also the base unit of measuring network speeds. 1 bit is a single piece of information. Network speeds tend to be measured by bits per second - using kilo (1,000), mega (1,000,000), and giga (1,000,000,000). A bit is a part of a byte, they are not synonyms. Bit is generally abbreviated with a lower case b (as in Mbps. Bits are used to measure network speeds. Bytes (abbreviated with a capital B) are used to measure storage space and file sizes. That hit 2 hour high definition movie you want to download is probably 8+ GB. If you want to download that baby on your DSL line you better have six hours.

BPAL: See Business Property Access License.

BPON: See Broadband Passive Optical Network.

Broadband: According to the FCC, 4 Mbps downloand and 1 Mbps upload.
True broadband provides exponentially faster speeds and is typically symmetrical.

Broadband Availability Gap: The amount of funding necessary to upgrade or extend existing infrastructure up to the level necessary to support the National Broadband Availability Target. Because this is a financial metric, and to avoid confusion with measures of whether local networks are capable of supporting a given level of broadband service, the Broadband Availability Gap is referred to as the Investment Gap.

Broadband Passive Optical Network (BPON): A type of PON standardized by the ITU-T, offering downstream capacities of up to 622 Mbps and upstream capacities of up to 155 Mbps, shared among a limited number of end users.

Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP): The Department of Commerce broadband program.

Brownfield: Brownfield neighborhoods are neighborhoods that are already built out and typically have existing roads, sidewalks, landscaping, and other impediments to network deployment. Brownfield neighborhoods typically have existing networks requiring new entrants to overbuild unless the incumbent is required to unbundle.

BSS: See Business Support System.

BTOP: See Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program

Burst Rate: The maximum rate or “speed” which a network is capable of delivering within a short timeframe, typically seconds or minutes. This is usually expressed as a rate in Mbps.
Many network providers report their burst rate as their maximum advertised speed.

Business Property Access License (BPAL): The legal document granting the network owner and the network owner's technicians access to a business property. The BPAL is the business equivalent of the PAL.

Bussiness Support System (BSS):

Busy Hour Offered Load (BHOL): BHOL (per subscriber) is the network capacity required by each user, averaged across all subscribers on the network, during the peak utilization hours of the network. Network capacity required is the data received/transmitted by a subscriber during an hour; this can be expressed as a data rate (like kbps) when the volume of data received/transmitted is divided by the time duration.

Byte: The base unit for file storage. Comprised of 8 bits (just to confuse you - if you don't like powers of 2, stay away from computer science). A 1MB (megabyte) file is made of 8 million bits. Bytes generally refer to the size of storage whereas bits are used frequently when discussing how rapidly files may be moved. Byte is generally abbreviated with a capital B.

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