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Glossary of Mobile Terms

16-05-2007
3G (Third-Generation Wireless)
Third generation (3G) wireless networks will offer faster data transfer rates than current networks. The first generation of wireless (1G) was analog cellular. The second generation (2G) is digital cellular, featuring integrated voice and data communications. So-called 2.5G networks offer incremental speed increases. 3G networks will offer dramatically improved data transfer rates, enabling new wireless applications such as streaming media.
802.11a
A flavor of wi-fi that's faster and more expensive than 802.11b; it runs at speeds of up to 54 megabits per second. Unfortunately, it's not compatible with 802.11b networks. Companies sometimes use 802.11a when setting up corporate wireless networks to maximize their bandwidth, but the average wi-fi user doesn't need to worry much about this standard.
802.11b
The original wireless standard and one of several wireless flavors defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It's the slowest of the current wi-fi standards in use, but at speeds of up to 11 megabits per second, it's still faster than DSL and many cable modems. You can use 802.11b-compatible wi-fi adapters almost anywhere you find access.
802.11g
The Next Big Thing in wi-fi. It's ultra-fast like 802.11a and backward-compatible with 802.11b networks—and an 802.11g adapter costs about twice as much as an 802.11b adapter. Until service providers start using the faster standards for their networks, there's little reason to get the latest adapter. That said, if you look for investment protection in all your technology purchases, go for it!
Access Point
The wi-fi receiver that communicates with your wi-fi adapter to allow you access to the Internet. At home, you might attach an access point to your cable or DSL modem. At a hotel or coffee shop, the access point is normally located in the ceiling, out of sight.
Bluetooth
A communications specification designed to enable PDAs, mobile phones, computers, and other devices to share information and synchronize data. This technology requires a transceiver chip in each device. Bluetooth products entered the market in 2000. Devices operate in the 2.4Ghz band, sending data at 720 Kbps within a 30-foot range.
CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)
Using military technology originally developed by the Allies in WWII, it spreads transmisions over all available frequencies. Conversations are assigned a code which is used to reassemble it upon arrival. This allows multiple calls to be carried over one channel.
CDMA2000
Also known as IS-136, CDMA2000 is a 3rd generation wireless technology. Supports speeds ranging from 144Kbps to 2Mbps.
CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data)
A digital data transmission technology developed for cellular networks. Operating at 19.2Kbps, it sends data over constantly changing open intervals in voice channels. If the system is busy, the data is sent when a channel opens up.
Cradle
A stand or bracket designed to hold a phone or handheld computer in place on your desktop or mounted to your dashboard. It may incorporate recharging or data-transfer functions.
EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment)
Intended as an incremental step toward 3G services. It operates at 384Kbps and enables multimedia transmissions and broadband applications for mobile phones and computers.
EPOC
An operating systems for handheld computers and mobile phones with web access. It's an open operating system developed by Psion and now licensed by Symbian. EPOC's main competitor is Windows CE.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Services)
Provides packet-based, rather than circuit-switched connections on mobile networks. Data rates should range from 56 up to 150Kbps. The as-needed (rather than dedicated) connections should bring down the cost of data services. Based on the GSM standard, this is an incremental step toward Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) and 3G services.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
A satellite-based system for determining your location within 10 to 100 meters, depending on the accuracy of the equipment. Originally used for military and scientific applications, GPS receivers are now widely available in everything from cars to wrist watches.
GSM (Global System for Mobile communication)
The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a wireless network system that is widely used in Europe, Asia, and Australia. GSM is used at three different frequencies: GSM900 and GSM1800, while GSM1900 is deployed in North America and other parts of the world. Has a data transfer rate of 9.6Kbps.
HDML (Handheld Device Markup Language)
A language that formats information for mobile phones or handheld computers in the same way that HTML does for PCs. It was originally developed by Unwired Planet (now phone.com) and is considered to be the forerunner of Wireless Markup Language (WML). Most current HDML browsers are capable of interpreting WML sites.
HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)
A 3G high-speed data technology that is an improvement to the WCDMA standard by boosting speed and reducing latency. It operates in the 5MHz spectrum and will initially provide real-world speeds of 400Kbit/sec. to 600Kbit/sec., with theoretical peak speeds of 14.4Mbit/sec.
Hotspot
A location where your wi-fi adapter can communicate with a wi-fi access point and give you access to the Internet
i-Mode
A packet-based mobile phone service from Japan's NTT DoCoMo. I-Mode operates at 9.6Kbps and uses a simplified version of HTML rather than WML. Its next-generation system should support rates of 384Kbps, enabling multimedia applications.
Location-based services (LBS)
are offered by some cell phone networks as a way to send custom advertising and other information to cell-phone subscribers based on their current location.
MSA/RSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area/Rural Service Area)
MSAs are cities with at least 50,000 people or urban areas with at least 100,000 people and the counties that include these areas. RSAs are all areas not included in MSAs. The FCC licenses and assigns freqencies in these areas, allowing multiple carriers.
MoSoSo
Mobile Social Software
MVNO
Mobile Virtual Network Operator
Palm OS
The operating system originally designed for the Palm series of PDAs. Palm has since been purchased by 3Com, but it still develops and licenses the OS. Unlike operating systems used by other handhelds, the Palm OS is built to function on a particular type of device.
PCS (Personal Communications Services)
A small handheld device commonly used as a mobile computer or personal organizer. Many PDAs incorporate small keyboards, while others use touchscreens with handwriting recognition. Some of these devices have Internet capabilities, either through a built-in or add-on modem.
PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
A small handheld device commonly used as a mobile computer or personal organizer. Many PDAs incorporate small keyboards, while others use touchscreens with handwriting recognition. Some of these devices have Internet capabilities, either through a built-in or add-on modem.
Pocket PC (formerly Windows CE)
An upgraded version of Windows CE that offers greater stability and a new interface. Features include mobile Internet capabilities, an e-book reader, and handwriting recognition.
Smartphone/Web Phone
A mobile, digital telephone that has features not associated with traditional home or mobile phones. These features include Internet access, simple text messaging, and data services.
SMS (Short Messaging Service)
Originally part of the GSM system, it refers to any text messaging service available on digital mobile phones
SSID (Service Set Identifier)
Identifies all the access points on a wi-fi network. You can't log on at a wi-fi hotspot without a proper SSID. For example, if you use a Linksys access point at home, the default SSID is "linksys." At Starbucks, the SSID is "t-mobile." But SSIDs are not secret, and they don't provide security. For this reason, if you have a wi-fi access point set up at home, you should probably change the SSID, making it harder to discover. Windows XP and various programs that come with wi-fi cards can sniff out SSIDs when you're near a hotspot. If the hotspot is operated by a service provider, you'll need to pay for access and get a password. If you're lucky enough to find a free hotspot, the SSID lets you log onto the Internet.
TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access)
Divides cellular channels into three time slots, increasing data capacity. This allows multiple users or conversations to be carried on the same channel.
Two-Way Paging/Interactive Paging/Two-Way Messaging
Sending and receiving data over the Web, via the paging network.
UWB
Ultra-wideband (UWB, and ultra-wide-band, ultra-wide band, etc.) may be used to refer to any radio technology having bandwidth larger than 500 MHz or 20% of the center frequency
WAP (Wireless Access Protocol)
A set of standards that allows web access on mobile devices. WAP is supported by most wireless networks and operating systems. It supports HTML and XML but is designed for WML.
WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access)
A 3G wireless technology derived from CDMA that transmits digitized data over a wide range of frequencies to boost speed. It uses wide 5 MHz channels and is associated with UMTS and GSM, where it boosts speed by substituting TDMA technology for CDMA. It's used for voice, data and video services and can achieve data rates up to 2M bit/sec.
Web Clipping
The process of pulling specific information from a web page so that it can be displayed on a web phone or PDA.
WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy)
A security protocol that encrypts the data you send and receive over a wi-fi connection. Experts would tell you that WEP isn't very secure—and they'd be right—but it will help keep you safe from prying eyes. If you're concerned about wireless security but aren't exactly sending and receiving trade secrets, use WEP.
Wi-Fi
Short for "wireless fidelity," it has come to mean any type of wireless network that uses 802.11 technology.
WiMax
Popular name of the 802.16 wireless metropolitan-area network standard that's currently being developed. WiMax, which will have a range of up to 31 miles, is primarily aimed at making broadband network access widely available without the expense of stringing wires (as in cable-access broadband) or the distance limitations of Digital Subscriber Line. There are two flavors of WiMax: 802.16-2004 or 802.16d for fixed implementations, and 802.16e for mobile service.
Windows CE
A version of Windows designed to run on PDAs or other small devices. CE was renamed Pocket PC with the version 3.0 release.
WMA
The Wireless Messaging API (WMA) is a set of classes for sending and receiving Short Message Service messages.
WML (Wireless Markup Language)
Similar to the Internet programming language HTML, WML delivers Internet content to small wireless devices, such as browser-equipped cellular phones and hand-held devices, which typically have very small displays, slow CPUs, limited memory capacity, low bandwidth and restricted user-input capabilities.
XHTML
A reworking of HTML 4.0 designed to work as a application of XML. It allows anyone to create sets of markup tags for new purposes.
XML (Extensible Markup Language)
A standard for creating expandable information formats that allow both the format and the data to be shared. XML is similar to HTML in that both use tags to describe the contents of a document. However, while HTML only describes how the data should be displayed or used, XML describes the type of data. This allows anyone who can interpret those tags to use the data they contain.

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