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Our 5G Glossary demystifies the jargon and acronyms associated with 5G. If you want to know the difference between FTTP and FTTC or explain the ECC in one sentence, this is for you.

Words underlined in the definitions are themselves explained in the Glossary

2G Second generation of mobile telephony systems. It uses digital transmission to deliver voice, text services and very low-speed data services.

3G Third generation of mobile systems. It can be used to deliver voice, text and lower-speed data services. It supports multimedia applications such as video, audio and internet access, alongside conventional voice services.

4G Fourth generation of mobile systems. It can provide download speeds of over 10 Mbit/s, and is used to deliver voice, text and higher-speed data services.

5G Fifth generation of mobile technology. It can deliver faster, lower latency mobile broadband, and enable more revolutionary uses in sectors such as manufacturing, transport and healthcare.

5G NR (New Radio) The 3GPP’s fifth-generation radio standard that leverages millimetre waves, enhanced small cells, Massive-input Massive-output (MIMO), beamforming, licensed / unlicensed spectrum, and full duplex wireless technologies.

3GPP (3rd Generation Project Partnership) A group of seven telecommunications standard development organisations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC) known as the ‘organisational partners’. It provides its members with a stable environment to produce the reports and specifications that define cellular telecommunications network technologies, including radio access, the core transport network and service capabilities.

Access Network An electronic communications network which connects end-users to a service provider, running from the end-user’s premises to a local access node and supporting the provision of access-based services. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘local loop’ or the ‘last mile’.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A type of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines than a conventional voice band modem can provide.

AMF (Access and Mobility Function) Provides user equipment based authentication, authorisation, registration, reachability, mobility management and connection management functions.

Backhaul The part of the communications network which connects the local exchange to the internet service provider’s (ISP’s) core network.

Bandwidth The maximum data transfer rate of a network or internet connection. It measures how much data can be transferred over a particular connection in a given time. It is often measured in terms of megabits or gigabits per second (Mbit/s or Gbit/s).

Base Station This is the active equipment installed at a mobile transmitter site. The equipment installed determines the types of access technology that is used at that site.

Beamforming Uses multiple antennas to control the direction of a wavefront by appropriately weighting the magnitude and phase of individual antenna signals such that it becomes possible to provide better coverage to specific areas along the edges of the calls. Beamforming algorithms can be used to reduce transmission interference from massive MIMO antennas by providing the precisely coordinated pattern through the air to each user, allowing the exchange of data for multiple users at once.

Broadband A high-capacity transmission technique using a wide range of frequencies, which enables a large number of messages to be communicated simultaneously.

Broadband USO (Broadband Universal Service Obligation) This will give consumers and businesses the right to request a broadband connection capable of delivering a download sync speed of 10Mbit/s and an upload sync speed of 1Mbit/s.

Cell Site A cell site or cell tower is a cellular-enabled mobile device site where antennas and electronic communications equipment are placed – typically on a radio mast or tower, or other raised structure – to create a cell in a cellular radio network.

Cloud A data centre where applications are hosted.

Cloud Computing A method for delivering information technology services in which resources are stored, managed, processed and retrieved from the internet through web-based tools and applications, instead of a direct connection to a local server or personal computer.

Core Network The central part of any network aggregating traffic from multiple backhaul and access networks.

DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) A network of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to a common source via a transport medium that provides wireless service within a geographic area or structure. DAS antenna elevations are generally at or below the clutter (eg buildings, trees and high land) level and node installations are compact.

Data Centre Buildings or part of buildings that house the servers that store, manage and disseminate data and information systems.

Decent Broadband A data service that provides download speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbit/s.

DN (Data Network) The network hosting operator data-centric services, internet or third-party data-centric services.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) A family of technologies generally referred to as DSL, or xDSL, capable of transforming ordinary phone lines (also known as ‘twisted copper pairs’) into high-speed digital lines, capable of supporting advanced services such as fast internet access and video on demand. ADSL and VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line) are variants of xDSL.

Dynamic Shared Spectrum Allows spectrum to be shared between multiple users for independent use.

ECC / Electronic Communications Code Taking effect under the Communications Act 2003 and introduced in December 2017, a piece of legislation that aims to make it easier for MNOs to install and maintain apparatus such as phone masts, exchanges and cabinets on public and private land.

Edge Data Centre Micro-sized data centres that cache data to end-users and connected devices sending and creating it.

Fibre to the Home See FTTP.

Fixed Broadband A term used to refer to internet access to fixed premise locations.

Frequency Bands The numbered bands used in spectrum regulator terminology to define and upper and lower range of frequency.

FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) An access network consisting of optical fibre extending from the access node to the street cabinet. The street cabinet is usually located only a few hundred metres from the subscriber’s premises. The remaining segment of the access network from the cabinet to the customer is usually a copper pair.

FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) A form of fibre optic communication delivery in which the optical signal reaches the end-user’s home or office. Also known as full-fibre broadband or ‘fibre to the home’.

FTIR (Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review) A document that sets out the UK Government’s ambition for digital connectivity, published in July 2018.

Full-fibre broadband See FTTP.

IP Internet Protocol This is the packet data protocol used for routing and carrying data across the internet and similar networks.

loT (Internet of Things) The network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and connectivity which enables these things to connect and exchange data. This creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits and reduced human exertions.

Last Mile See Access Network

Latency The amount of delay (or time) it takes to send information from one point to the next. Latency is usually measured in milliseconds. It is also referred to (during speed tests) as a ‘ping rate’.

LiFi Like WiFi but using light instead of wireless.

Local Loop See Access Network.

LoRaWAN A low-power, wide area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery-operated ‘things’ to the internet.

LTE (Long Term Evolution) A 4G mobile communications standard whereby users of the LTE network should see data speeds of up to 10 times faster than 3G networks. It has been developed into Long-Term Evolution Advanced and Long-Term Evolution Advanced Pro to create a family of standards associated with 4.5G through to 5GE.

M2M (Machine to Machine) Wired and wireless technologies that allow systems to communicate with each other.

MBH (Mobile Back Haul) The process of connecting cells sites (base stations) to network controller sites over wireline networks. Traffic engineering on such wireline networks is typically required to enforce the necessary quality of service.

MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) Cloud computing at the edge of the network, performing necessary tasks closer to the end-users. This environment is characterised by ultra-low latency and high bandwidth, as well as real-time access to radio network information that can be leveraged by applications to improve the overall end-user experience, man or machine.

MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) Allows sending and receiving of more than one data signal on the same channel at the same time by using more than one antenna, thus improving the data rates between the transmitter and the receiver.

mmWave (Millimetre Wave) A high-frequency wave wedged between microwaves and infrared waves, in the millimetre band; considered to deliver faster, higher-capacity 5G services. The band of spectrum referred to is between 30GHz and 300 GHz and is also known as Extremely High Frequency (EHF). It can be used for more high-speed wireless broadband communications.

MNO (Mobile Network Operator) A provider who owns a cellular mobile network.

Mobile Broadband A term used to refer to access to the internet via a tablet, smartphone or other mobile devices.

Network Slicing The ability to deliver multiple network occurrences in software over one shared infrastructure, thus improving flexibility and agility.

Neutral Host A neutral host distributed antenna system (DAS) shifts the ownership of a wireless service system from the carrier to either the DAS integrator, the building owner or a third-party system provider. The system is capable of supporting multiple Wireless Service Providers (WSP) and technologies across a large bandwidth of spectra, while utilising a common network infrastructure.

NG (Next Generation) Typically referring to the new 5G systems or specifications.

NGA (Next Generation Access) This term describes technologies that can deliver superfast speeds including Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).

NGC (Next Generation Core) Defines the mobile core elements of a 5G system.

Not-Spot An area which is not covered by fixed or mobile networks.

NR (New Radio) Commonly used term to reference the 3GPP 5G NR radio system.

Open RAN (Open Radio Access Network) An open interface between hardware and software on a general purpose “off the shelf” platform that creates flexibility and efficiency in the network.

Over-the-top Providers A term used to refer to content and other service providers that distribute streaming media as a standalone product directly to consumers over the internet, bypassing telecommunications, multichannel television and broadcast television platforms that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.

RAN (Radio Access Network) A combination of wireless network elements and wireline network elements connecting end-users, man and machine, to the network core delivering specific services. The network elements present in this segment of the network include the base stations, base station controllers, mobile backhaul transmission equipment etc.

Resilience The ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation.

Small Cell  Small radio equipment and antennas that can be placed on structures such as streetlights, the sides of buildings, or poles. They are about the size of a pizza box or backpack, and are essential for transmitting data to and from a wireless device over a small geographic area.

SpectrumThe term used to define radio waves from low to high frequencies.

Spectrum Sharing Instead of radio spectrum being reserved for a specific use, unused frequencies within a band are able to be used by other devices.

SRN / Shared Rural Network A joint UK Government and MNO initiative that will look to improve the coverage of 4G geographically across the UK

Submarine Cables Any kind of cable that is laid on the seabed, although the term is often extended to encompass cables laid on the bottom of large freshwater bodies of water.

Superfast Broadband A data service that delivers download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s.

TV White Space (TVWS) The unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum left between channels by television networks for buffering purposes. This wireless spectrum is similar to that used for 4G and can be used to deliver broadband internet using spectrum sharing technique.

Ultrafast Broadband A broadband product that delivers download speeds of greater than 300 Mbit/s.

User Equipment (UE) The end-user piece of hardware connected to the network, eg a smartphone or modem.

VDSL (Very High-Speed DSL) A high-speed variant of DSL technology, which provides a high headline speed through reducing the length of the access line copper by connecting to fibre at the cabinet.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) A technology that allows users to send calls using internet protocol, using either the public internet or private IP networks.

WiFi A short range wireless access technology that allows devices to connect to a network through using any of the 802.11 wireless networking standards. These technologies allow an over-the-air connection between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients.

xDSL The generic term for the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) family of technologies used to provide broadband services over a copper telephone line.


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