Glossary of Telecommunications Terms (Source: Federal Communications
A fee charged subscribers or other telephone companies by a local exchange
carrier for the use of its local exchange networks.
A signaling method that uses continuous changes in the amplitude or frequency
of a radio transmission to convey information.
The capacity of a Telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is
the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or
loss of information. FCC rules require suppression of the signal outside the
band to prevent interference.
Broadband is a descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that
provide consumers a signal switched facility offering integrated access to
voice, high-speed data service, video-demand services, and interactive delivery
CALLING PARTY PAYS
A billing method in which a wireless phone caller pays only for making calls
and not for receiving them. The standard American billing system requires
wireless phone customers to pay for all calls made and received on a wireless
This term, often used for all wireless phones regardless of the technology
they use, derives from cellular base stations that receive and transmit calls.
Both cellular and PCS phones use cellular technology.
A service for persons with hearing disabilities that translates television
program dialog into written words on the television screen.
COMMERCIAL LEASED ACCESS
Manner through which independent video producers can access cable capacity
for a fee.
In the Telecommunications arena, the term used to describe a telephone
A person who facilitates telephone conversation between text telephone users,
users of sign language or individuals with speech disabilities through a
Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). This service allows a person with
hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with anyone else via telephone at
no additional cost.
COMMUNITY ANTENNA TELEVISION (CATV)
A service through which subscribers pay to have local television stations and
additional programs brought into their homes from an antenna via a coaxial
A practice in which customers are billed for enhanced features such as voice
mail, caller-ID and call-waiting that they have not ordered.
Long distance services that require consumers to dial a long-distance
provider's access code (or "10-10" number) before dialing a
long-distance number to bypass or "dial around" the consumer's
chosen long-distance carrier in order to get a better rate.
DIGITAL TELEVISION (DTV)
A new technology for transmitting and receiving broadcast television signals.
DTV provides clearer resolution and improved sound quality.
DIRECT BROADCAST SATELLITE (DBS/DISH)
A high-powered satellite that transmits or retransmits signals which are
intended for direct reception by the public. The signal is transmitted to a
small earth station or dish (usually the size of an 18-inch pizza pan) mounted
on homes or other buildings.
Also called electronic mail, refers to messages sent over the Internet.
E-mail can be sent and received via newer types of wireless phones, but you
generally need to have a specific e-mail account.
ENHANCED SERVICE PROVIDERS
A for-profit business that offers to transmit voice and data messages and
simultaneously adds value to the messages it transmits. Examples include
telephone answering services, alarm/security companies and transaction
An informal meeting held by the Commission to hear presentations on specific
topics by diverse parties. The Commissioners, or other officials, question
presenters and use their comments in considering FCC rules and policies on the
subject matter under consideration.
FREQUENCY MODULATION (FM)
A signaling method that varies the carrier frequency in proportion to the
amplitude of the modulating signal.
GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS)
A US satellite system that lets those on the ground, on the water or in the
air determine their position with extreme accuracy using GPS receivers.
HIGH DEFINITION TELEVISION (HDTV)
An improved television system which provides approximately twice the vertical
and horizontal resolution of existing television standards. It also provides
audio quality approaching that of compact discs.
INTERACTIVE VIDEO DATA SERVICE (IVDS)
A communication system, operating over a short distance, that allows nearly
instantaneous two-way responses by using a hand-held device at a fixed location.
Viewer participation in game shows, distance learning and e-mail on computer
networks are examples.
INSTRUCTIONAL TELEVISION FIXED SERVICE (ITFS)
A service provided by one or more fixed microwave stations operated by an
educational organization and used to transmit instructional information to fixed
Traditional wired phone service.
LAND MOBILE SERVICE
A public or private radio service providing two-way communication, paging and
radio signaling on land.
LOW POWER FM RADIO (LPFM)
A broadcast service that permits the licensing of 50-100 watt FM radio
stations within a service radius of up to 3.5 miles and 1-10 watt FM radio
stations within a service radius of 1 to 2 miles.
LOW POWER TELEVISION (LPTV)
A broadcast service that permits program origination, subscription service or
both via low powered television translators. LPTV service includes the existing
translator service and operates on a secondary basis to regular television
stations. Transmitter output is limited to 1,000 watts for normal VHF stations
and 100 watts when a VHF operation is on an allocated channel.
A 1992 Cable Act term requiring a cable system to carry signals of both
commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations that are
"local" to the area served by the cable system.
Any connection of two or more computers that enables them to communicate.
Networks may include transmission devices, servers, cables, routers and
satellites. The phone network is the total infrastructure for transmitting phone
A term used to describe the capability of individuals, businesses and
organizations to retain their existing telephone number(s) -- and the same
quality of service -- when switching to a new local service provider.
OPEN VIDEO SYSTEMS
An alternative method to provide cable-like video service to subscribers.
OPERATOR SERVICE PROVIDER (OSP)
A common carrier that provides services from public phones, including
payphones and those in hotels/motels.
A one-way mobile radio service where a user carries a small, lightweight
miniature radio receiver capable of responding to coded signals. These devices,
called "pagers," emit an audible signal, vibrate or do both when
activated by an incoming message.
PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE (PCS)
Any of several types of wireless, voice and/or data communications systems,
typically incorporating digital technology. PCS licenses are most often used to
provide services similar to advanced cellular mobile or paging services.
However, PCS can also be used to provide other wireless communications services,
including services that allow people to place and receive communications while
away from their home or office, as well as wireless communications to homes,
office buildings and other fixed locations.
PRESCRIBED INTEREXCHANGE CHARGE (PICC)
The charge the local exchange company assesses the long distance company when
a consumer picks it as his or her long distance carrier.
The use of a wireless phone outside of the "home" service area
defined by a service provider. Higher per-minute rates are usually charged for
calls made or received while roaming. Long distance rates and a daily access fee
may also apply.
A radio relay station that orbits the earth. A complete satellite
communications system also includes earth stations that communicate with each
other via the satellite. The satellite receives a signal transmitted by an
originating earth station and retransmits that signal to the destination earth
station(s). Satellites are used to transmit telephone, television and data
signals originated by common carriers, broadcasters and distributors of cable TV
SATELLITE HOME VIEWER IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1999 (SHVIA)
An Act modifying the Satellite Home Viewer Act of 1988, SHVIA permits
satellite companies to provide local broadcast TV signals to all subscribers who
reside in the local TV station's market. SHVIA also permits satellite
companies to provide "distant" network broadcast stations to eligible
SATELLITE MASTER ANTENNA TELEVISION (SMATV)
A satellite dish system used to deliver signals to multiple dwelling units
(e.g., apartment buildings and trailer parks).
A radio receiver that moves across a wide range of radio frequencies and
allows audiences to listen to any of the frequencies.
The rate plan you select when choosing a wireless phone service. A service
plan typically consists of a monthly base rate for access to the system and a
fixed amount of minutes per month.
A Telecommunications provider that owns circuit switching equipment.
The term used to describe what occurs when a customer's long distance
service is switched from one long distance company to another without the
customer's permission. Such unauthorized switching violates FCC rules.
The range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used in the transmission of
sound, data and television.
SUBSCRIBER LINE CHARGE (SLC)
A monthly fee paid by telephone subscribers that is used to compensate the
local telephone company for part of the cost of installation and maintenance of
the telephone wire, poles and other facilities that link your home to the
telephone network. These wires, poles and other facilities are referred to as
the "local loop." The SLC is one component of access charges.
The documents filed by a carrier describing their services and the payments
to be charged for such services.
TelecomMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICE (TRS)
A free service that enables persons with TTYs, individuals who use sign
language and people who have speech disabilities to use telephone services by
having a third party transmit and translate the call.
The word used to describe the science of transmitting voice over a
A type of machine that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to
communicate over the phone using a keyboard and a viewing screen. It is
sometimes called a TDD.
The term used to describe the access provided by local exchange carriers so
that other service providers can buy or lease portions of its network elements,
such as interconnection loops, to serve subscribers.
The financial mechanism which helps compensate telephone companies or other
communications entities for providing access to Telecommunications services at
reasonable and affordable rates throughout the country, including rural, insular
and high costs areas, and to public institutions. Companies, not consumers, are
required by law to contribute to this fund. The law does not prohibit companies
from passing this charge on to customers.
VERY HIGH FREQUENCY (VHF)
The part of the radio spectrum from 30 to 300 megahertz, which includes TV
Channels 2-13, the FM broadcast band and some marine, aviation and land mobile
An audio narration for television viewers who are blind or visually disabled,
which consists of verbal descriptions of key visual elements in a television
program, such as settings and actions not reflected in dialog. Narrations are
inserted into the program's natural pauses, and are typically provided through
the Secondary Audio Programming channel.