Jargon Buster

Do you speak broadband?

Like any technology, broadband has its own jargon and we have provided definitions to the most commonly used terms which we hope you will find helpful.


Broadband refers to any kind of fast internet connection, typically 100 times faster than dial-up internet and capable of a speed of at least 2Mbps and more). A broadband internet connection is always on, 24hrs a day with no impact to your home landline use.

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Cabinets are the green boxes on the side of the road that connect homes to the nearest telephone exchange. Also known as primary connection points, cabinets provide both telephony and broadband services you are using today mainly via underground copper wires. 

Dial up

Before the arrival of broadband, all internet connections relied on using a home phone line (referred to as dial-up internet). Some households still do. Dial-up runs at a much lower speed of 56Kbps (Kilobits) or less and is not as stable as broadband connection. A dial-up connection also means the home phone line cannot be used for telephone calls at the same time as internet usage. 


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Download speed measure how long it takes in Mbps (Megabits) for you to receive data from another computer (when you load a web page or open your emails for example).

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Telephone exchanges support all existing phone and internet connections in their area. Those exchanges usually take the name of the town they are located in and provide services for the town and nearby villages (in rural areas).

Fibre optic

Optical fibres are thin, flexible, hair-sized fibres that transmit data in the form of light signals. They can be bundled together, often encased in cable similar to an ordinary computer cable, and can transmit data millions of times faster and more reliably than metal wires. A fibre optic cable - typically as a bundle of four - is run from the exchange to the cabinet location (underground, underwater or overhead) to enable extremely fast broadband. 

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FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet)

FTTC, quite literally, brings a fibre optic connection to a street cabinet, It is a part-fibre, part-copper solution, capable of delivering Superfast broadband speeds to homes and businesses (24 Mbps and above). With FTTC, fibre is connecting the telephone exchange to roadside cabinets near homes and businesses. Though copper will still be the final link (i.e. from the cabinet to your home or business), this solution helps deliver significant speed uplifts. FTTC is currently the most cost effective solution for deploying broadband services in the majority of situations. 

FTTP (Fibre to the premise/home)

FTTP is an extension of the above service, whereby the fibre optic cable runs all the way to the property, not just the road side cabinet. Though more costly due to the additional work to reach every property, removing the final section of copper wire helps achieve much higher broadband speeds.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) are both solutions to deliver high-speed fibre broadband, also known as Next Generation Access (NGA). 


The broadband infrastructure refers to the equipment and technologies necessary to provide broadband access to your home or business. This is currently provided and maintained by private sector companies. Those companies will design, implement and then provide high-speed internet to a selection of Retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who will then be able to supply to you. 

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

An Internet Service Provider is the company that provides your internet connection. 

Mbps (Megabits per second or ‘Meg’)

Unit that measures internet speed. Megabits per second (or 1000 Kilobits per second). 

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Superfast broadband

Superfast broadband is the new generation of broadband - much faster and more reliable. Superfast broadband should be capable of delivering headline speeds higher than 24Mbps. 


Upload speed measures how fast (in Mbps) the data you send travels to reach another computer (for example when you send photos or files to another computer). 

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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)

VoIP uses the internet to carry telephone calls, allowing programs like Skype to work.