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Wireless: Glossary

If you have a Palm OS or PocketPC device, we've created a PDA version of this handy reference. Now you can have these pesky acronym definitions at your fingertips by downloading our Mobile Words-to-Go .

3G (third-generation wireless) - refers to near-future developments in personal and business wireless technology, especially mobile communications.

802.11 - a family of specifications for wireless local area networks.

ad-hoc network - a local area network or other small network, especially one with wireless or temporary plug-in connections, in which some of the network devices are part of the network only for the duration of a communications session or, in the case of mobile or portable devices, while in some close proximity to the rest of the network.

Bluetooth - a computing and telecommunications industry specification that describes how mobile phones, computers, and personal digital assistants (PDAs) can easily interconnect with each other and with home and business phones and computers by using a short-range wireless connection.

Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) - refers to any of several protocols used in so-called second-generation (2G) and third-generation (3G) wireless communications.

digital pulse wireless - see ultra wideband.

Global Positioning System (GPS) - a "constellation" of 24 well-spaced satellites that orbit the Earth and make it possible for people with ground receivers to pinpoint their geographic location.

Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) - a digital mobile telephone system that is widely used in Europe and other parts of the world.

hot spot - a wireless access point.

IR wireless - the use of wireless technology in devices or systems that convey data through infrared (IR) radiation.

MIPv6 - a protocol developed as a subset of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to support mobile connections.

radio frequency identification (RFID) - a technology that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or person. RFID is coming into increasing use in industry as an alternative to the bar code.

roaming service - the ability to get access to the Internet when away from home at the price of a local call or at a charge considerably less than the regular long-distance charges.

service set identifier (SSI) - a sequence of characters that uniquely names a wireless local area network (WLAN). This name allows stations to connect to the desired network when multiple independent networks operate in the same physical area.

Short Message Service (SMS) - a service for sending messages of up to 160 characters (224 characters if using a 5-bit mode) to mobile phones that use Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication.

time division multiple access (TDMA) - a technology used in digital cellular telephone communication that divides each cellular channel into three time slots in order to increase the amount of data that can be carried.

ultra wideband (UWB) - a wireless technology for transmitting large amounts of digital data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands with very low power for a short distance. Also called digital pulse wireless.

Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) - a third-generation (3G) broadband, packet-based transmission of text, digitized voice, video, and multimedia at data rates up to 2 megabits per second (Mbps) that offers a consistent set of services to mobile computer and phone users no matter where they are located in the world.

warchalking - a grass roots effort to create a standard iconography for public Wi-Fi access.

Windows Product Activation (WPA) - the mandatory product registration system included in Microsoft's Windows XP, Office XP, and recent Office products (such as Word 2002 or Excel 2002) as a means of enforcing compliance with the company's End User License Agreement (EULA).

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) - a specification for a set of communication protocols to standardize the way that wireless devices, such as cellular telephones and radio transceivers, can be used for Internet access, including e-mail, the World Wide Web, newsgroups, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) - a popular term for a high-frequency wireless local area network (WLAN).

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) - a security protocol, specified in the IEEE Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) standard, 802.11b, that is designed to provide a wireless local area network (WLAN) with a level of security and privacy comparable to what is usually expected of a wired LAN.

wireless LAN (WLAN) - a local area network in which a mobile user can connect to the network through a wireless (radio) connection. A standard, IEEE 802.11, specifies the technologies for wireless LANs. The standard includes an encryption method, the Wired Equivalent Privacy algorithm.

wireless personal area network (WPAN) - a personal area network (network for interconnecting devices centered around an individual person) in which the connections are wireless.

Wireless Transport Layer Security (WTLS) - the security level for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) applications.

This was last updated in October 2006

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