Helpful Terms in the Digital World
January 5, 2022
Only the most tech-savvy of us rarely ever get stumped by all the technical terms and language that’s thrown around so often, especially as the technology described becomes more and more advanced and complicated. It’s hard not to feel left behind as you continue to hear acronyms and jargon that mean nothing to you. So we’ve taken the liberty of defining some of the more commonly used terms a tech-beginner or casual user would need to navigate this increasingly digital world!
Download Speed: How quickly you can pull data from a server on the Internet to your device. Most connections are designed to download much faster than they upload, since the majority of online activity, like loading web pages or streaming videos, consists of downloads.
Fiber-Optic: Technology, implemented by fiber Internet providers like Tachus, that utilizes pulses of light through thin glass wires to transmit data. Optical fiber is equipped to carry more data than the copper wires most Internet Service Providers use, and with less interference.
Packet: A portion of data that you send. When you send a file of data, whether you are sending an email or an image, that file is broken down into packets. Each packet may be sent via different routes through the Internet, but they are reassembled into what the recipient sees once they arrive at their destination IP address.
Upload Speed: How quickly you send data from your device to the Internet. A fast upload speed is helpful when sending large files via email, or in using video-chat to talk to someone else online (since you have to send your video feed to them).
Ping: Also called latency, ping is the reaction time of your connection—how quickly your device gets a response after you've sent out a request. A fast ping means a more responsive connection, especially in applications where timing is everything (like video games). Ping is measured in milliseconds (ms).
Megabits per second (Mbps): A megabit is 1 million bits of information. This is a standard measure of Internet speed, not to be confused with megabytes (MB), which is a measure of size rather than bandwidth.
Gigabits per second (Gbps): A gigabit is 1 billion bits of information, and is equal to 1,000 Mbps. Like Mbps, this is a measure of Internet speed, not to be confused with gigabytes (GB), which is a measure of size rather than bandwidth.
Bandwidth: The rate at which data is transferred from one place to another per second. Usually measured in Mbps.
Throughput: The actual measure of how much data is successfully sent and received. Where bandwidth is a more of a theoretical measure. Throughput is what you will actually see on a speed test. Even under the best circumstances, throughput will never be as high as the theoretical measure of bandwidth because of constant factors like latency and overhead.
Data Cap: An artificial restriction on data sharing over a network. Internet providers will often put data caps in place if their network is either too limited or too outdated to accommodate their customers. Tachus never does this.
Local Area Network (LAN): A group of connected computers or devices that share a common server. A wireless network that connects multiple devices is an example of this and is often called a wireless LAN or WLAN. LANs exist in offices and homes and make it possible for computers on the same network to share the same resources like printers or data storage.
Wide Area Network (WAN): A network that extends over a large geographic area for the primary purpose of computer networking. WANs are used to connect LANs and other types of networks together so that users and computers in one location can communicate with users and computers in other locations. Many WANs are built by Internet service providers like Tachus and provide connections from a home's LAN to the Internet.
IP Address: Your computer and every device that connects to the Internet uses an Internet Protocol address for identification. In most cases, IP addresses are assigned automatically.
Internet Service Provider (ISP): Companies like Tachus that provide access to the Internet.
Fiber to the Home (FTTH): A fiber network that delivers Internet connections directly to each user’s home. This typically means a direct fiber connection. Tachus utilizes an FTTH network. Learn more about how Tachus builds its network and installs its connection to your home.
Fiber to the Curb (FTTC): A fiber network that delivers Internet connections to curbs near homes or businesses. Coaxial cable or another medium carries signals the rest of the way from the curb to the user. Tachus does not use an FTTC network, and instead installs the fiber all the way up to our customers' homes.
Router: A device that forwards data packets between computer networks. There are several different kinds of routers, but the one you would most likely be acquainted with is a Wi-Fi router. In this case, your Wi-Fi router forwards data packets between your computer and the Internet, which is connected to your home by your modem.
Modem: A device that converts and reconverts data signals. A modem connects your home to your ISP. Short for modulator-demodulator, the modem takes signals from your Internet provider, translates them into signals your computer and devices can use, and translates your computer’s signals back into ones your ISP can use.
These are just some of the more commonly used technical keywords you might hear in any kind of discussion about the Internet or Internet service. Hopefully, now that you have familiarized yourself with these terms, it will be easier for you to participate in technical conversations and better understand how your Internet service works.