Skip to Content

Glossary of Terms

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
A set of rules applied by the administrator of a network, website, or service, that restrict the ways and sets guidelines as to how it should be used.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Backbone
The main network connections that interconnect different networks to provide a path for long-distance communication. Examples include local areas networks (LAN) such as offices or campuses. Several LANs interconnected over vast areas result in a wide area network (WAN) or metropolitan area network (MAN).

Source: Techopedia


Backhaul
The segment of a network between the core network or backbone network and the small subnetworks at the edge of the network (e.g., the connection from a community network hub in a small town to a carrier hotel where it connects to the internet backbone).

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Bandwidth
The rate at which the network can transmit information. Generally, higher bandwidth is desirable. The amount of bandwidth available to you can determine whether you download a photo in 2 seconds or 2 minutes.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Bond Issue
Education bonds are voter-approved funds that can only be used for school facilities. Districts collect this money by taxing property owners on the assessed value of their properties. Districts sell the bond to investors. The local bond is similar to a loan. It is much like a home equity line, but for the school district.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Broadband
Broadband Internet is a speed benchmark set and updated by the Federal Communications Commission. The benchmark was last updated in 2015 to define broadband as 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. “Broadband” is generally shorthand for quality Internet service. Broadband provides high speed Internet access via multiple types of technologies, including fiber-optics, wireless, cable, DSL, and satellite.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
A requirement for K-12 schools and libraries using E-Rate discounts to operate “a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors.”

Source: Federal Communications Commission


Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)
150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band (3550 MHz to 3700 MHz) in the United States with a three-tiered access and authorization framework to accommodate shared federal and non-federal use.  On January 27, 2020, the FCC authorized full scale commercial deployment in the CBRS band.

Source: Federal Communications Commission


Cloud-based
Digital data that is stored, managed, and processed on a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet, rather than on local servers or personal computers. As we gain access to faster Internet connections (particularly on the upstream), cloud services may offer cheaper means of accomplishing tasks and more reliable back-ups.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program
This program within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area.

Source: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities-direct-loan-grant-program


Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)
The box or antenna on the side of a house that receives and sends the signal from the wired or wireless network, connecting the subscriber.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Dark Fiber
Unused fiber-optic infrastructure that has not been “lit” with Internet service. When someone is building a fiber-optic network, the cost of adding more fiber-optic than is immediately required is negligible and the cost of having to add more fiber-optic later is very high. Therefore, many include dark fiber-optic in projects. These fibers that can be leased to others or held in reserve for a future need.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Dial-Up Access
A connection from your computer that goes through a regular telephone line. You use special communications software to instruct your modem to dial a number to access another computer system or a network.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Digital Equity
Digital Equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.

Source: National Digital Inclusion Alliance


Digital Redlining

The practice of creating and perpetuating inequities between already marginalized groups specifically through the use of digital technologies, digital content, and the internet. For example, ISPs invest in building fiber infrastructure in wealthier neighborhoods, while under-investing in the broadband infrastructure in low-income communities resulting in low-income broadband users with more expensive, slower access.

Source: DigitalInclusion.org


Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
Internet access offered over phone lines that allows users to use the Internet at speeds greater than dial-up while also using the phone line for telephone conversations. DSL uses frequencies not used by human voices. Unfortunately, these frequencies degrade quickly over distance, meaning customers must live within a mile or even much closer to the central office to get the fastest speeds. Upstream speeds over DSL tend to top out at 5 Mbps.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


2.5 GHz or Educational Broadband Service (EBS)
The former Educational Broadband Service (EBS), previously known as the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS), is a service in the 2.5 GHz spectrum band that the FCC previously set aside for educational institutions but is now open to flexible use.

Source: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/broadband-division/broadband-radio-service-education-broadband-service


E-Rate
The FCC’s E-Rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. With funding from the Universal Service Fund (fcc.gov/general/universal-service-fund), E-Rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

Source: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/universal-service-program-schools-and-libraries-e-rate


Ethernet
Network technology that enables data to travel at 10 megabits per second. An Ethernet connection is often referred to as a “direct connection” and is capable of providing data transmission speeds over 500 Kbps.

Source: Dataprise.com


Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Source: Federal Communications Commission


Fiber-optic
A system that uses glass (or plastic) to carry light, which is used to transmit information. Typically, each side of the fiber is attached to a laser that sends the light signals. When the connection reaches capacity, the lasers may be upgraded to send much more information along the same strand of fiber. This technology has been used for decades and will remain the dominant method of transmitting information for the foreseeable future.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (FRPL)
A Federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to low-income children each school day.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food and Nutrition Service


Fixed wireless
A connectivity model that uses stationary wireless transmission to bridge the “last mile” between the Internet backbone and the subscriber.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Homework Gap
The homework gap is a term used to describe the inequities between students who have devices and internet connectivity at home, and those who don’t and, as a result, struggle to complete schoolwork at home.


Hotspots
Wi-Fi Hotspots are physical locations, such as an airport or coffee shop, where people can wirelessly connect their device(s) to the Internet using Wi-Fi via a wireless local area network (WLAN). A mobile or portable hotspot uses the smartphone’s data connection to connect or “tether” their device(s) to the Internet.


Hybrid Learning
Hybrid learning occurs when a student uses both in-class and online instruction to learn course material.


Internet Service Provider (ISP)
An organization that provides services for accessing or using the Internet.


Joint Powers Authority (JPA)
An entity permitted under the laws of some U.S. states (e.g. California), whereby two or more public authorities (e.g. local governments, or utility or transport districts), not necessarily located in the same state, may jointly exercise any power common to all of them. By combining their commercial efforts, public authorities can achieve economies of scale or market power. For example, National IPA is a purchasing consortium of local government and education agencies.

Source: California Association of Joint Powers Authority


Line-of-sight
Line-of-sight wireless provides a fixed wireless Internet connection to buildings that have a clear line-of-sight to an antenna, often on a tower or mast but potentially on the roof of another building. This eliminates the need to install cables underground or on utility poles, provides faster installation times, and lowers the initial cost to deploy.


Long Term Evolution (LTE)
Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is a standard for 4G wireless broadband technology that offers increased network capacity and speed to mobile device users. The next upgrade in LTE, 5G, is underway.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Mi-Fi
A MiFi device works as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that allows multiple end-users and devices to share the broadband connection.

Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance


Out-of-School/Off-Campus Wi-Fi Network
A network that can be accessed and used by students and parents at home or at other community sites to obtain Internet access.


Spectrum
Spectrum allows for transmission of information (such as data or sound) via radio waves measured in kilohertz, megahertz, or gigahertz.


Telecommunications company
A provider of telecommunications services such as voice (telephony) and data services. Also called common carriers or Local Exchange Carriers (LECs), ILECs are incumbent providers, such as AT&T or Verizon.


Throughput
The speed of message delivery.


White Space (WS)
The unused TV channels between the active ones in the VHF and UHF spectrum as well as available spectrum in the 600 MHz Band Service. These are typically referred to as the “buffer” channels. This unused spectrum between TV stations and available spectrum in the 600 MHz Band Service is called white space and encompasses the 54 MHz to 88 MHz (VHF-TV channels 2-6), the 174 MHz to 216 MHz (VHF-TV channels 7-13) and the 470 MHz to 698 MHz spectrum bands.

Source: https://www.fcc.gov/general/white-space


Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a popular wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to allow computers and other devices to communicate over wireless high-speed signals.


Wireless Router
A wireless router connects directly to a modem by a cable. This allows it to receive information from—and transmit information to—the internet. The router then creates your home Wi-Fi network using built-in antennas

Contact Us

Have a question? Interested in learning more? Send us a note!