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Broadband Glossary Guide

With broadband terminology often providing confusion, we've listed below the most frequently used terms and their meanings which we hope you will find useful.

Acceptable Use Policy or Fair Use Policy

Most broadband suppliers who offer unlimited broadband downloads have an acceptable or fair use policy. The supplier monitors the broadband usage by the customer. If the use is deemed excessive, the provider retains the right to restrict or stop the customer using the service. The restrictions are usually triggered by excessive downloading. The restrictions allow other customers to access the broadband service fairly.


This stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. This is the technology that has been developed for enabling broadband connections using existing telephone networks.

ADSL Filter

ADSL filters allow you to continue to make telephone calls whilst using your broadband connection. The filters are easy to install: unplug your telephone from the wall socket, connect an ADSL filter into the wall socket and reconnect the telephone to the ADSL filter socket marked 'PHONE'.

Always On

A connection to the Internet that is permanently available and ready for use.

Antispam Software

A program running either on the internet or on your computer that analyses incoming mail and filters spam (junk) mail.

Antivirus Software

A program running on your computer to protect it against a virus attack. Viruses are malicious code sent from other computers which can intrude on your privacy, damage your computer or corrupt your files.


The amount of data that can be transferred over a connection at any one time. For a standard dial up connection through a phone line the bandwidth can be up to 56 kilobits per second (56kbps), for a broadband connection it is normally at least 2Mb and can be up to 100Mb (and higher) with fibre optic.


A connection to the Internet that works at high speeds because of its greater bandwidth.


The generic name given to services which use fibre optic cable buried underground to carry telephone, television and broadband to your home.

Cap (Broadband Download Limit)

The amount of data per month an ISP allows you to transfer to your computer via broadband before either stopping, or charging you.

Contention Ratio

This describes the maximum number of users sharing the bandwidth on the broadband connection between your local exchange and your broadband provider.

Contract Period

A contract period is the minimum length of time you will be tied with your existing broadband provider. The average period is 12 months, though this can extend for up to 24 months depending upon the broadband deal you choose.


A dial-up connection uses a telephone line to connect to the Internet. A modem is used to turn data into audio signals so that it can literally 'dial' the number of your internet service provider (ISP) and communicate with their computers.


Describes the process of transferring files from a location on the internet to your PC.

Fair Use Policy

See Acceptable Use Policy.

Fibre Optic Broadband

A new type of broadband that runs underground as opposed to traditional ADSL broadband that runs over ageing copper telephone wires. Fibre optic broadband is much faster than ADSL broadband and can offer broadband speeds up to 200Mbps.


Software or hardware that is designed to prevent unauthorised access to a network. This can either be a piece of software or a standalone piece of equipment.

GB (Gigabyte)

One gigabyte is approximately 1000 megabytes. Broadband caps and limits vary from 10GB to unlimited downloads dependent on which broadband deal you choose.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

An ISP is the company that provides your broadband connection.

MAC (Migration Authorisation Code)

This code allows you to migrate from one broadband supplier to another. They are obtained from your current broadband provider.

Mbps (Megabits per second)

The rate (speed) at which broadband data is transferred between computers. One megabit is approximately 1000 kilobits.


This is an acronym derived from the words modulator and demodulator by taking the "mo" and "dem" from the words. A modem is a piece of hardware that is used to connect computers to the Internet.


This is an audio file format which uses compression software to make the file size smaller without significant reduction in quality. It is a common file format for sharing music files on the internet.


This is the act of tricking someone into giving them confidential information or tricking them into doing something that they normally wouldn't do or shouldn't do.


A device which decides where to send packetised information, so essential if you have more than one computer on a network.


Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.


An alternative to downloading large files such as audio and video. Streaming allows users to commence playback whilst the remaining file is downloading in the background.


Describes the process of transferring files from your PC to another location on the internet.

Web Space

The amount of storage space you get on a server to enable you to store emails or run a website.

Wireless Broadband (Wi-Fi)

Radio-based systems that allow transmission of broadband information without a physical broadband connection.

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