Glossary of Terminology
Wondering what "Wi-Fi" is? Puzzled by "PDA"? Study up on our glossary of terminology below and you'll be talking tech in no time.
Access Point - also known as a "wireless access point" or WAP, this is a Wi-Fi network device which connects Wi-Fi enabled computers and PDA's to traditional ethernet networks; a WAP typically has a range of 300 feet, but can be used in conjunction with other WAP's to extend the range of a Wi-Fi network.
- dial-up modem access is usually rated at 56Kbps (or slower)
- ISDN at 128Kbps
- cable or DSL access can be 256Kbps to 10Mbps or more
- fiber-optic access speeds can reach upwards of 30Mps or more
Broadband - broadband is a generic term for high-speed Internet access; in general, to be considered broadband an Internet connection must be rated at least twice the speed of the fastest traditional modem connection speed; Thinwires recommends its hotspots have a connection speed of at least 512Kbps or higher, depending on the guest capacity of required.
Hotspot - an area serviced by a wireless access point; a hotspot is an area where users with Wi-Fi network devices can connect to a WLAN; Thinwires hotspots, also known as "nodes", are used to provide Internet and VPN access to Thinwires subscribers.
LAN - local area network; a network generally consists of a group computers and network-enabled devices (such as printers, copiers, network appliances, etc.) which are connected to one another via network interface cards (NICs) and network cable; devices on a network are able to share data with one another; a local area network is a private network which may or may not be connected to the Internet or a WAN; a LAN is typically confined to a single physical location (an office, for instance)
NIC - network interface card; also known as a network adapter, a NIC is used by computers to access networks; traditionally a NIC requires a physical connection to the network (i.e., a cable); Wi-Fi network adapters use wireless technology to connect to a network.
PC card - also known as PCMCIA; a form factor designed specifically for laptop and notebook computers; portable computers often come equipped with a "PC card slot"; in order for a laptop to connect to a Wi-Fi network, it will generally need a PC card wireless network adapter.
PDA - personal digital assistant; PDA's are handheld computers, the most common of which run either the Palm OS or Microsoft Windows CE; most mid-level and above PDA's are capable of connecting to a Wi-Fi network.
Site Survey - the process in which a network consultant visits and tours a property to determine the necessary hardware and its placement for maximum network coverage. Site surveys are often necessary to provide an accurate price quote for larger properties or for those with unique circumsances (ex. multiple buildings that need to be linked).
Thinwires Gateway - a networking device setup at a Thinwires hotspot between the Internet connection and the WAP; the gateway controls access to the Internet, allowing only current Thinwires subscribers to get online.
VPN - virtual private network; a business which allows VPN access to its server(s) is allowing users in various locations to access the corporate LAN via the Internet; a VPN connection is encrypted, meaning that data is securely passed back and forth between the user's computer and server.
Wi-Fi - "Wireless Fidelity"; an international standard for wireless networking, Wi-Fi is a radio-based networking technology; often using the same frequencies as standard cordless phones, Wi-Fi is an evolving technology with a range of networking standards:
- 802.11a - this standard, not widely adopted, is also a high speed wireless standard similar to 802.11g; however, 802.11a equipment does not work with 802.11b or g devices
- 802.11b - this is the original Wi-Fi standard, and the most common and affordable one to date; it has a transmission rate of 11Mbps (far faster than most broadband Internet connections).
- 802.11g - a more recent standard, 802.11g allows transmission rates of up to 54Mbps, and is backward compatible with 802.11b, meaning network devices for the "g" standard can function on a "b" network.
- 802.11n - a proposed standard, 802.11n allows transmission rates of up to 248Mbps.