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Common Terms

A-C  D-F  G-K  L-M  N-P  R-Z

Access Charges. Fees paid by subscribers and long-distance carriers for their use of the local exchange in placing long distance calls.

Access Line. A line assigned a specific telephone number that connects a customer's phone or related instrument to a central office.

Analog transmission. The traditional telephone technology in which sound waves or other information are converted into electrical impulses of varying strengths or amplitudes.

Bandwidth. The common measure of transmission capacity. For analog transmission, it is measured in cycles per second; for digital transmission, in bits per second.

Binary Information Unit or Binary Digit (BIT). The smallest unit of digital information. A single digit number in "base-2", either a 0 or a 1. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps).

BOC. Bell Operating Company. One of the 22 local exchange telephone companies that prior to the Jan. 1, 1984 breakup of the Bell System comprised the arm of AT&T; providing local telephone services. BOCs provide about 80% of the nation's local exchange telephone subscribers with service.

Broadband Network. A network capable of transporting voice, interactive full-motion video, and data services. A narrowband network carries significantly less information than a broadband network. Narrowband applications include traditional telephone service, electronic mail, paging services, and faxes.

Browser. A software program used to query, search and view information on computer sites connected to the Internet.

Byte. A set of "bits" that represent a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a Byte.

Collocation. The placement of competitors' equipment on telco premises so that they may interconnect directly (and cheaply) with the local telephone exchange.

Common Carrier. A government-regulated private company offering telecommunications services or communications facilities to the general public on a non-discriminatory basis under operating rules mandated by the appropriate state and/or federal regulatory authority.

Convergence. The merging of different technologies such as telephony, computers and cable.

Dedicated Line. A communications circuit or channel provided for the exclusive use of a particular subscriber. Dedicated lines are often used to move large amounts of data between computers.

Dialing Parity. Equal dialing access provided to consumers. No additional codes or numbers are necessary to access a different telephone service provider.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). Provides instant Internet and network access at speeds up to 50 times faster than a 28.8 Kbps modem on a standard analog phone line. And because DSL sends data and voice over the same line, you can talk on the phone while you connect.

Digital transmission. Conversion of sound waves and other information into binary computer code (a series of O's and 1's). At the end point, binary code is converted back into original format. Provides sharper, clearer, faster transmission than analog.

Download (Receive). To receive data from another computer into your computer. It is also called "receive." The opposite is called "Upload."

Electronic Mail (E-Mail). E-Mail allows the user to send a message via a computer instantly to one or many persons around the world. E-mail users typically have a "mailbox" on a network or a videotext system where other users can send messages to be retrieved by the recipient.

Equal Access. The provision of exchange access to all long distance carriers on equal terms. Equal access was a cornerstone of the divestiture decree (MFJ) and was intended to place AT&T; and competing providers of long distance service on equal terms.

Facility-based carriers. Long-distance service providers that own the physical facilities. The bulk of the long-distance companies are resellers.

Fiber Optics. Technology based on thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials used as the medium for transmitting coded light pulses that represent data, image and sound. Fiber optic technology offers extremely high transmission speeds


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