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Broadband Jargon: What does it all mean?

Rinky Dink Inc

For the uninitiated, the technical jargon associated with broadband can be confusing and difficult to understand.

Well, have no fear, as Broadband Compare UK is on hand to guide you through the process with an A-Z of the most popularly used tech speak to make choosing the best broadband deal a cinch.

Take a look below, and you'll soon be an expert in broadband jargon - nothing will phase you anymore!


‘4G’ stands for ‘fourth generation’, and refers to the latest family of mobile internet technology on the market. 4G is the method by which the internet is delivered to your phone when on a mobile network, i.e. not connected to your home broadband network. It delivers data quickly to your mobile device.


‘ADSL’ refers to the standard method of home broadband delivery. The acronym means ‘asymmetric digital subscriber line’, and the information is sent to you home via the copper phone line that enters your home from the telephone exchange.


‘Broadband’ is the word used to refer to the delivery of internet to your home which can be used alongside your normal phone line. Previously you would have used ‘dial-up’, which basically hijacked your phone line so you couldn’t make calls. Broadband is the standard method of internet provision.


You don’t eat this kind of cookie (although you’ll be forgiven for thinking you can). A cookie is kind of like a little ‘footprint’ that a website leaves on your computer so that the site can recognise you when you return.


Dial-up is the method of internet delivery preceding broadband. You will undoubtedly remember the horrendous sound made by a dial-up connection as it hijacked your telephone line. This method of internet delivery has been overtaken by broadband.

Download Limit

It is possible to obtain unlimited broadband packages from most suppliers nowadays. Some offer broadband based on a certain amount of downloaded data. This means that whenever you download an image, or access a web page, or even stream a film, your download limit is reduced until you have no data allowance left.

Download Speed

This is the speed at which your broadband connection receives data. The download speed is measured in Mbps, or megabits per second. The higher the download speed value, the faster you can download things like films and other files.


The telephone exchange is the location of the ‘meeting point’ between all the phone lines in your area and then connect to the network provider. When you are looking for a broadband deal, check your distance from the exchange as this will affect the speed that you can receive data.

Fibre Broadband

Fibre broadband is the latest in broadband technology, which allows data to be sent to you through a fibre optic cable. Speeds of up to 76Mbps can be reached with fibre broadband, as it is incredibly fast.


A gigabyte (GB) is a unit of data. It is 1000MB (megabytes). We have explained megabytes (MB) below.

IP Address

Your IP address is the sequence of numbers that your device is given when you go online. This operates in pretty much the same way as your postal address and identifies you on the internet.

Line Rental

This refers to the fee charged for using a telephone line, ADSL line, or fibre optic line to receive data to your home. You will need to pay the line rental fee if you wish to use broadband in your home.


A megabit – which is different to a megabyte (described below) – is a way of referring to the speed at which data is transferred between the exchange and your computer. It is mainly used to define the speed at which you can download and upload information to the Internet.


A megabyte (MB) is a way of describing a unit of digital data. The unit refers to how much space on your computer that a file consumes when you download it. So if you download a film, it may account for 650MB, for example.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband concerns the manner in which you access the internet through a mobile device, such as a tablet or a smartphone. The latest mobile broadband delivery method is 4G.


All industries are governed by a regulatory body, which oversees the practices of the industry in question and ensures that customers receive fair treatment. The regulator for the telecommunications industry is Ofcom, and they ensure that all practices undertaken in the UK telephone, Internet, TV, and communications industry are up to standard.


Your router is an important piece of equipment. It is the hub by which all the devices in your home receive broadband information. The data is sent to your router through the data lines to your home, from the exchange. This is then transmitted to your devices either wirelessly or through a cable, if you connect directly to the router.


This has nothing to do with canoes or getting wet. Streaming refers to the manner in which you can receive data such as movies or music, beamed directly into your home. The concept works by allowing you to watch a film (for example) stored on a company’s servers, which in turn will be played back on your device. You never have to physically download the data; it simply plays via your computer. Streaming can use up your data allowance if you have a usage limit.


Tethering refers to utilising your mobile phone connection as a way to connect your laptop or tablet to the internet if you can’t access to a broadband connection. This can be really handy if you need an internet connection but can’t find one nearby. You should be aware that tethering can use up your mobile data, so take care if you do use this facility.

Upload Speed

The upload speed of your network refers to how quickly you can place information on the Internet, or in other terms how quickly data is sent from your computer, rather than to it. It affects the speed at which you can attach files to emails, or the reliability of a phone call made via an application such as Skype.


You can connect your computer to your router in a number of ways. It can be done directly, via a cable, or you can connect to it using Wi-Fi, or ‘wirelessly.' The data is transferred to your computer or another internet device via signals sent by the router.


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