GUIDES & RESOURCES

Internet Glossary

With terms like ADSL2+, Naked DSL and FTTP floating around, who can keep up? It seems like every month they’re coming up with new acronyms.
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Written by

Mel Basta

Updated 06/10/2023

What changed?

Added content, rewrite and refurb of existing content
Our aim is to help you make better informed decisions. That’s why iSelect’s content is produced in accordance with our fact-checking and editorial guidelines.

Find out more about how we make money.

View our Privacy Policy.

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Never fear. Here’s a glossary of the key terms you need to know when it comes to the Internet and mobile phones. 

3G, 4G, 5G 

Short for the ‘third generation’, ‘fourth generation’ and ‘fifth generation’ of the wireless technology used to connect mobile devices to the Internet. 

ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+, DSL, naked DSL 

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. A Broadband Internet connection that transmits data over copper telephone lines.  

ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ are types of DSL connections where the download speed is faster than the upload speed. ‘A’ stands for Asymmetric. 

DSL is the slowest connection, followed by ADSL, ASL2 and ADSL2+. 

Naked DSL is a DSL connection that doesn’t include a phone line. 

The vast majority of Australian DSL connections have now been replaced by NBN connections.1 

Bandwidth 

The maximum rate at which an Internet connection can transmit data. Usually measured in bits per second. 

Broadband 

A fast and reliable type of Internet connection that can send and receive data in large quantities. 

Bundle 

An Internet Plan that combines two or more services such as Internet, Home Phone and additional Extras. 

Byte 

A unit of digital information. 

Cable broadband 

A type of Broadband connection delivered through cable television wires. 

Copper lines 

Cables originally laid for telephone connections, later used for Internet connections. Because they were designed to transmit voice data, they can’t transmit the Internet at the fastest speeds. During the NBN rollout, much of Australia’s copper line network was replaced by fibre-optic cables. 

Data 

The term for information transmitted over the Internet. Measured in megabytes. 

Dial up 

A very outdated type of Internet connection, using your home phone network and a dial-up modem to access the Internet. 

Dongle 

A thumb-sized portable drive that plugs into the USB port on a laptop or PC and connects it to the Internet. 

Download 

A process where your device receives data from another device through an external network or connection. 

Ethernet 

A way of connecting to the Internet via a cable, rather than wirelessly. Tends to be faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi.2 

Fibre-optic cable 

A cable containing super-thin transparent materials that transfer data quickly and reliably via beams of light. 

Fibre to the Basement or Fibre to the Building (FTTB) 

A type of NBN connection usually used in apartment buildings. Transmits to the fibre node in a building's communication room via a fibre-optic cable, then transmits to individual apartments using existing technology. 

Fibre to the Node (FTTN) 

A type of NBN connection usually used in rural or suburban areas. Transmits to a small box installed in a central area via a fibre-optic cable, then transmits to nearby houses via existing copper lines. 

Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) 

A type of NBN connection that transmits to a dedicated node outside a premises via fibre-optic cable, then transmits the rest of the way via copper lines. 

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) 

A type of NBN connection that transmits directly to a premises via fibre-optic cable. Generally considered the fastest NBN connection.3 

Fixed wireless 

A system that uses radio signals to create a Wireless Internet connection between two fixed locations, such as a building to a tower or a tower to a building. In rural areas with long distances between homes, fixed wireless can be used to connect a home to an NBN node. 

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)  

A type of NBN connection that transmits to a node via a fibre-optic cable, then transmits the rest of the way via the existing pay TV or cable network. 

Internet Service Provider (ISP) 

A telecommunications company, such as Telstra or Optus, that provides access to the Internet. 

IP address 

IP stands for Internet Protocol. A unique set of numbers used to identify each device that connects to the Internet. 

Megabits per second (Mbps) 

The unit of measurement used for the speed of Broadband. 

Mobile Broadband 

Broadband delivered via a portable modem or mobile phone. 

Modem 

A device installed in premises like a home or office that allows the Internet to be transmitted to the premises. Sometimes combined with a router in one device. 

National Broadband Network (NBN) 

Australia’s broadband network. It increased the speed of our telephone and Internet services by replacing the previous copper networks with super-fast fibre-optic cables. 

NBN wholesaler 

An Internet Service Provider that offers NBN products wholesale through NBN Co. 

Router 

A device that transmits data between a modem and your Internet-enabled devices. Sometimes combined with a modem in one device. 

Satellite 

A type of NBN connection where the NBN signal is received via a satellite dish on a premises. 

SIM card 

A small card that fits into the back of a mobile device and connects it to a mobile network. 

Social media 

The Internet applications and websites through which people interact socially.  

Speed tiers 

Brackets used to categorise speed rates of NBN connections, measured in Mbps. 

Streaming 

The way in which large quantities of data, mainly video and audio, are transmitted over a network in a continuous flow.  

Upload 

The process of sending a file from your computer or device to another computer or server. 

URL 

Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. The sequence of letters, numbers and punctuation you type into a browser’s address bar to access a website.  Otherwise known as a web address. 

Wi-Fi 

The use of radio signals to allow Internet-enabled devices to connect to the Internet wirelessly.


Sources:
1 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report
2 NBN Co – Are you set to net? Wi-fi vs Ethernet in the home
3 NBN Co – Upgrade to NBN’s full fibre

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