Business broadband – busting the jargon
In the world of modern communications, the amount of terminology used can be mind boggling. After all, what is ADSL, and why is FTTC better, and what exactly is an Ethernet leased line?
To help, we’re busting the jargon on some of the most commonly used internet terminology you might hear.
This list is far from exhaustive, but we hope it will at least cover some of the basics. And, of course, if you would like to add your own suggestions, please provide your jargon (along with an explanation) in the comments below.
Why not start with the most basic term…
Broadband is the term used to describe our most common connections to the internet, covering all the various technologies from fibre to copper. ‘Broadband’ was originally termed in contrast to dial up (remember that?), to describe a high speed, always on internet connection.
Fast, Superfast, Ultrafast
You’ve undoubtedly heard these terms many times, but without a little explanation it can be difficult to know what they actually mean.
‘Fast’ broadband refers to ‘traditional’ copper connections – what most of us probably still imagine when we think of broadband. ‘Fast’ means connection speeds up to around 24Mbps.
‘Superfast’ broadband typically refers to broadband speeds faster than those provided over copper (up to about 100Mbps). Most ‘superfast’ connections are FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), but can also be FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) – more on all those terms later.
‘Ultrafast’ broadband typically refers to broadband speeds over 100Mbps.
We all partly understand what ‘Ethernet’ is because it’s the standard used for connecting computers to local area networks (‘Ethernet’ cables?), but often when we refer to Ethernet we’re referring to ‘Ethernet leased lines’ – dedicated connections that can be used to connect two offices together, or your office to the internet. They provide guaranteed speed, the same speed for downloads and uploads and they’re extremely reliable.
That’s Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line to you – or, basically, the technology that drives that ‘traditional’ copper broadband.
Fibre to the Cabinet is the ‘fibre’ broadband that most of us know and love. Fibre-optic cables carry data to and from the nearest street cabinet, while copper cables are used to carry that data from the cabinet to our homes and offices.
Fibre to the Premises takes the fibre-optic cable directly from the exchange to your premises – that means no copper cable to slow the connection down.
An alternative to FTTP, G.fast uses much of the same infrastructure as FTTC, but cleverly manipulates the data to achieve ultrafast transfer speeds.
Megabits per second. This is used to measure the speed at which data is transferred (downloads and uploads). There are eight megabits in a megabyte.
Good indicators of the performance of your internet connection. Faster download speeds mean quicker access to files and data, and the ability to connect multiple users simultaneously without noticeable slowdown.
Faster uploads mean better video conferencing, file backups and data transfers.
Lower latency (the responsiveness of your connection) means a smoother experience.
Your Local Area Network (LAN) is the network within your premises – that your various devices connect to in order to access each other and the internet. A WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) is an extension of this, to include your devices that connect wirelessly (like phones, tablets and laptops).
The ‘address’ that data uses to find its way around the internet. Your router will have a unique IP address (a bit like a house number and postcode) so that data can find its way to you.
Every device connected to your network will also have its own IP address. Although these are unique addresses within your network, they’re not globally unique (which means devices connected to other networks might use the same address – that’s not a problem though). The IP addresses of all your devices help your router to know where to send data when it’s been received from the internet.
IPv4 is the old 184.108.40.206 type address that we’re all used to (if you search for this particular address you probably won’t get any further than your router’s interface though).
It’s the addressing system that’s been used by data for years to find its way around the internet, but we’re running out of IPv4 addresses. There are only around 4 billion possible IPv4 addresses, and many more than 4 billion connected devices, so networks have had to resort to the sort of local addressing mentioned above to help overcome this limitation.
IPv6 uses a different (128-bit hexadecimal) numbering system that means a (practically) infinite number of potential addresses. And that means every connected device can have its own unique address, and we’ll never run out. Oh, and it’s probably more secure than IPv4 too. All our broadband services are IPv6 compatible, and as a Zen Business Broadband customer you can have a free IPv6 address if you want.
In olden days’ language, a firewall is a wall built to prevent the spread of fire. And in the modern connected age, that description is really useful in helping to understand the role of a network firewall.
By blocking access to (or from) certain types of data or sites, a firewall can help prevent the spread of malicious code, keeping viruses and other malware at bay. Firewalls can filter data automatically or based on instructions you’ve given (or both).
A firewall can sit on your computer, at the perimeter of your network (on your router) or, preferably, both.
If you’d like to discuss any of this with us, please get in touch.