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Glossary of WiFi definitions


Do you know your broadband from your bandwidth? Never fear, the WiFi glossary is here with some simple and useful definitions:



The 1970s saw the launch of the ‘inter-network’, a collaborative tool to connect and exchange information in the form of standardised  communication codes of procedure. So basically any computer can connect with any other computer, anywhere in the world, provided they have the correct equipment.


Different from standard internet connections, broadband uses a single cable with a wider bandwidth* that means you can send several pieces of information down different channels, at the same time, resulting in faster and more informative communications.


This is simply the term used to describe an internet connection that doesn’t require physical wires or cables to communicate, otherwise known as ‘wireless’ – you can use it on the go.


This word describes the amount of data that can be communicated in a certain amount of time i.e. the speed of data transfer. It’s a bit more in-depth (read: complicated) than that but we’re keeping things simple here.


This is the action of transferring information on the internet ‘down’ to your computer or device. The download speed refers to how quickly a certain amount of information can be transferred from the internet to your device in a set time. The higher the better for this, as you can download more info more quickly, resulting in a better experience.


This is transferring data from your device ‘up’ to the internet, for example, sending an email. Upload speeds tend to be a lot slower than download, as it is less of a priority when it comes to user experience.


This is a form of security that monitors all transfers of data to and from your computer to make sure that there is no unauthorised goings-on in terms of other people or computers trying to get a peek at your information – it keeps your computer private.

Mobile reception

This refers to the signal strength that a mobile telephone receives. Communications signals are picked up from telecommunications beacons and when these signals are interrupted or too far away, the mobile is unable to make calls or receive messages.


This is the internet version of mobile reception* which allows a mobile phone to connect to the internet* via WiFi*. 3G stands for ‘third generation’ as it is the third iteration of mobile internet development since the 1980s.


4G is the fourth generation of mobile internet development and is an enhanced version of 3G. It provides faster and more reliable mobile internet connections but is comparatively new so has not been successfully integrated throughout the UK. Yet.


Large desktop PCs (personal computers) are out of fashion, in favour of small, flat, wireless screens that you can carry in your handbag (or man bag). It is a mobile computer with a touchscreen – that is, a screen you interact with by using your finger or a stylus (plastic tool designed for touchscreens). They can be WiFi enabled or (the more expensive ones) have a sim card like a mobile phone that allows them to connect to 3G or 4G networks.


This is a form of electronic communication that involves a continuous flow of sound or video data that is viewed as it is received – none of the data is being saved to your device before you can view it, it is ‘live’. This means it needs a fast and reliable internet connection to work.


Much the same as you’d browse a newspaper, browsing the internet is following links you find interesting with no particular end goal in mind, just enjoying discovering content.

Social Media

Social media sites are like online communities where people can come together in one place to share thoughts and ideas. Examples are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Generally public places such as libraries, coffee shops or transport, a physical location where free wireless internet connection is available for anyone to use on a mobile device.


This is a simplified version of WiFi – a short range data transfer between devices that are physically near each other. It is mainly used for synchronising data between two devices but also connects to the internet. The computer chip that powers it is small and cheap so can be put in a wide range of devices, from cameras to phones and other electronic data devices.


The range is the distance a device is able to send wireless signals. There are many things that affect it, from physical obstacles getting in the way, to electronic interference and even the weather. It is possible to extend the range of a wireless device by using a range extender/expander that receives the original signal then re-broadcasts it.


Your mobile network has geographical boundaries – usually restricted to the country of origin. Roaming refers to the ability to continue to use your mobile device for calls, messages and internet outside of these bounds.


The black box with flashing lights! This is the device that connects to your phone line, receives, sorts and sends data between your devices and the internet.



Now you know the basics, you’re ready to tackle the terminology and do some self service with your holiday cottage broadband.

Have a browse of our other articles on All Things WiFi.

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