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Click the first letter of a word that needs definition.

A Back to the top 

Access - The process used for communication between your computer and the Internet.

Access Lines - A telephone line running from the telephone company’s central office to a point on your property.

Access Line Equivalents - A representation of the number of access lines that a system could hold.

Adobe Acrobat Reader - A software program developed by Adobe Systems, Inc., used to view files in PDF format. The software displays documents with the same layout and design as the original.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) - A new modem technology that allows existing twisted pair telephone lines to access the Internet at T-1 speeds.

ASCII (pronounced: ask-ee) - ASCII is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a code that represents the most basic letters of the Roman alphabet, numbers, and other characters used in computing. ASCII characters allow us to communicate with computers, which use their own language called binary made up of 0s and 1s. ASCII files are also called text files. 

B Back to the top 

Backbone - A series of high-speed network connections through which other networks connect.

Bandwidth - According to Webster's: a range within a band of wavelengths, frequencies, or energies; esp: a range of radio frequencies which is occupied by a modulated carrier wave, which is assigned to a service, or over which a device can operate. In Internet terms, bandwidth commonly refers to the amount of information that can be sent through a connection.

Bit - (binary digit) The smallest unit of computer information.

Browser - A software program that allows you to view HTML documents and navigate on the WWW.

Business Systems - The set of voice, data, and Internet products that provide communication solutions and services to business customers. The products usually reside within the customer's place of business.

Byte - A combination of bits that represents a single character (approximately 8 bits equal one byte). 

C Back to the top 

Client - A program or computer that is used to contact and obtain data from another program or computer, referred to as the server.

CLEC - Competitive Local Exchange Carrier. Deregulated local telephone companies resulting from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that are competing for local exchange service, as well as for long distance and Internet service.

CO - Central Office. A telephone company’s building where subscribers’ lines are joined to the switching equipment to connect calls.

Cookie - A small data file sent to a Web browser by a Web server that is used to record a user's activities on a Web site. For instance, when you buy items from a site and place them in a "shopping cart," that information is stored in a cookie. When the browser requests additional files, the cookie information is sent back to the server. Cookies can remember other types of information, such as your password, so you don't have to re-enter it every time you visit a site. They also retain your preferences, so when return to a site, you can enjoy customized information. Cookies cannot read any other information stored in your computer.

Connectivity - The technical communications link between a computer system and the Internet.

Cramming – An illegal practice in which customers are billed for additional telephone features they didn’t order.

CSSR – Customer Sales and Service Representative. These TDS Telecom employees work in the sales and service offices of our local operating companies. They answer customer questions, market services, and handle payments.

CST – Customer Service Technician. These TDS Telecom employees work in our local operating companies and provide installation and repair service for our customers.


D Back to the top 

Dedicated Service - A connection to the Internet using a leased line that provides for very fast, high bandwidth connections. Also called permanent direct service.

Digital - An advanced type of radio transmission that broadcasts voice or data intact via radio waves, which allows for greater call clarity, advanced wireless features and improved voice capacity. The industry uses three types of digital technology: TDMA, CDMA and GSM.

Dialup Service - A connection that allows you to access the Internet by dialing into a computer through a modem and telephone line.

Directory - While there is no single source or official Internet directory, there are several search vehicles available to research or access information on the WWW. Directories categorize and list information in specific headings or categories. 

DNS - See Domain Name System

Domain Name - A unique name that identifies an Internet site; the Domain Name will always have at least two parts separated by dots (for example: tds.net or tdsnet.com). These names are granted and controlled by a centralized Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC), administered by the National Science Foundation.

Domain Name System (DNS) - A system by which one Internet host can find another. DNS translates words (Domain Names) into numbers that Internet computers can understand. 

Download - To transfer of a file or information from another computer to yours.

DS-1 - See T-1

DS-3 - See T-3

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) – A DSL line transmits simultaneous voice and high-speed data over existing copper telephone wires without the need of additional phone lines.


E Back to the top 

E-1 - The European equivalent of a T-1.

E911 Taxes/Surcharges - This tax is set and imposed by local governments to help pay for the cost of an emergency response communications system that identifies both the caller and the location of the call.

EAS - Extended Area Service. Customers usually pay a larger flat rate to increase their local calling area if an area gets EAS. It can decrease a customer’s monthly bill if the customer makes a certain number of calls to the expanded area.

Email - Electronic mail - A system that allows the sending and receiving of messages through a computer.

Email Address - A computer mailing address to which electronic mail is sent.

Encryption - A way of making transmitted data, such as emails, unreadable to everyone except the receiver. If the data is intercepted by anyone as it travels over a network, it cannot be read. Only those persons that have the right type of decoding software can unscramble the message. Encryption is used to protect e-commerce and financial transactions such as those on TDS ePay.

Ethernet - A network link that can transmit approximately 10,000,000 bits per second.

Exchange - A geographic area established by a telephone company for specifying the local telephone service area.

F Back to the top 

FAQ - An acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are online documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject.

Federal Excise Tax - A 3% tax mandated by the federal government imposed on all telecommunications services including local, long distance and wireless bills.

Federal Subscriber Line Charge - This is a charge paid by consumers implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It is intended to recover some of the costs associated with a customer's local telephone line to access the interstate long distance network. It helps keep interstate long distance rates low. You pay this charge whether or not you actually make long distance calls.

Federal Universal Service Charge – See "Universal Service Fund Surcharge"

FCC - Federal Communications Commission. A United States government board made up of five presidential appointees that has the authority to regulate interstate telecommunications, as well as international communications that originate or terminate in the U.S.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) - A common method for sending and/or receiving files between Internet sites using a login system. Publicly accessed FTP sites are often called anonymous FTPs. 

Firewall - A combination of hardware and software used to separate a LAN into two separate parts for security reasons.

Frequency - A certain "size" of radio wave: The rate at which the electric and magnetic fields of a radio wave vibrate per second.

FTP - See File Transfer Protocol

FTTP (Fiber to the Premises) - A fiber-optic network that connects directly from the carrier network to the user premises. Another fiber-optic network is FTTC (Fiber to the Curb) that connects from the carrier network to the curb, and from there to the premises by copper wire or coaxial cable.

G Back to the top 

Gateway - A system that translates incompatible networks or applications. Gateway is also commonly used to refer to any system that provides access to another system.

GMSS - General Manager, Sales and Service. This TDS Telecom employee is in charge of daily operations at our local offices.

Gopher - A system of clients and servers, in menu format, that allows for navigation on the Internet. 

H Back to the top 
Home Page - The Web document that your browser displays when you access a site - typically the main page of a Web site.

Host - A computer directly connected to the Internet. Also refers to a computer on a network that provides services to other computers on the network.

HTML - See HyperText Markup Language

HyperText Link - A connection between two Web documents; usually underlined text or a graphic that you click on to display another Web document.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) - The basic coding language used to create WWW documents.

HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTP) - The protocol for moving HyperText files across the Internet 

HTTP - See HyperText Transport Protocol 

I Back to the top 

ILEC - Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier. The existing local exchange carrier in any given area, as opposed to CLECs.

Independent Telephone Company - A telephone company not affiliated with any of the original Bell telephone companies. See RBOC.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) - A high performance, digital phone circuit available from most regional telephone companies that allows for voice and data to be transmitted on the same line, producing fast, noise-free connections.

Internet - A collection and interconnection of tens of thousands of independent global networks.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) - A popular program that allows users all around the world to communicate live, or chat, with other users.

InterLata Carrier - The carrier that provides your telecommunications service between your LATA and another LATA. Generally called "Long Distance Carriers."

InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) - The centralized organization run by the National Science Foundation that provides various administrative services for the Internet, including Domain Name registration.

IntraLATA - Telephone services within the boundaries of a local access area. See LATA. Generally known as "Local Telephone Companies."

IP Address - A 32 bit address (four bytes separated by periods) that defines the location of a host on the Internet.

IRC - See Internet Relay Chat

ISDN - See Integrated Services Digital Network

ISP - Internet Service Provider. A company that provides connection to the Internet.

J, K Back to the top 
Kbps - Kilobytes per second. A kilobyte equals a thousand bytes. 
L Back to the top 
LAN - Local Area Network. A data communications network that lies within a limited space (such as a building) to connect telephone lines, computers, modems, printers, etc.

Local Access and Transport Area (LATA) - Geographical boundaries within which local telephone companies may provide local telephone services (and some limited toll services). There are 184 LATAs in the United States.

Leased Line - A phone line dedicated for exclusive use from one location to another. High speed connections require a leased line.

Lifeline/Link-Up Program - A Federal program designed to provide telephone service to the poor and elderly at a reduced cost to assure they can be reached in case of an emergency.

Link - See Hypertext Link

LISTSERV - Mailing lists that act as newsgroups.

Local Number Portability Charge (LNP) - Allows a customer to keep the same phone number and "port" it over to another service provider. This is new to wireless. The terms number portability (NP) and local number portability (LNP) are often used interchangeably.

Local Number Portability Charge (LNP) - This charge may appear on the local portion of a phone bill if you live in an area where local number portability is provided. This fixed monthly charge allows local telephone companies to recover certain costs for providing “portability” to its customers. Local telephone companies may continue to assess this charge on their customers’ telephone bills for five years from the date the local telephone company first began itemizing the charge on the bill. This is not a tax.

Login Name - The unique account name used to access a computer system. Also called user ID or user name, it is a way people identify themselves to their online service or Internet access provider. 

M Back to the top 

Major Trading Area (MTA) – An area defined by the U.S. government and used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate personal communications services market areas.

Mbps - Megabytes per second (MB is also used as an abbreviation for Megabyte).

Megabyte (MB)- A million bytes or a thousand kilobytes.

Miscellaneous Taxes - Like many other consumer goods and services, certain telephone services are taxed by federal, state, and local governments. These charges may appear as a “gross receipts” tax.

Modem - A device for converting digital signals from your computer into analog signals for transmission over a phone line (modulation) and also converts the analog signals from the phone into digital signals that your computer can read (demodulation).


N Back to the top 

NAP - See Network Access Point

Navigate - To move through various documents on the WWW using a browser.

Network - The total infrastructure for transmitting phone and/or Internet messages.

Network Access Point (NAP) - A centralized point where Internet traffic is exchanged or shared.

Network Operation Center (NOC) - A round-the-clock operation where Network engineers monitor and troubleshoot technical equipment and connections.

Newsgroup - A discussion group in which you can leave messages for others to read on UseNet.

NID - Network Interface Device - A device used within a local area network, which allows a number of independent devices (computers, modems, etc.) to communicate with one another. Also, a device usually mounted on the outside of the customer's home that connects the customer's inside wiring to the telephone company's wiring and protects the customer's phone equipment from lightning and any large rise or fall in electricity.

NOC - See Network Operation Center 

O, P Back to the top 

Partner’s Program - An indirect sales channel that offers smaller businesses in the TDS Telecom service areas an opportunity to promote and sell TDS Telecom products and services.

Password - A code or word used to gain access to restricted data on a computer network. While passwords provide security against unauthorized users, the security system can only confirm that the password is legitimate, not whether the user is authorized to use the password. That's why it is important to safeguard passwords by:

  • Never disclosing your password to anyone.
  • Creating a password that consists of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Changing your password frequently.

PCS (Personal Communications Services) – Originally meant to describe digital service offered at a higher frequency (1900 MHz) than wireless, it is now used as a generic term for all digital (versus analog) wireless.

PDF - An acronym for Portable Document Format, PDF is a file type created by Adobe Systems, Inc. that allows fully formatted, high-resolution documents to be easily transmitted across the Internet and viewed on any computer that has Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

Peering - The arrangement of information sharing between Internet Service Providers at various NAPs.

PIC Freeze – Pre-subscribed Interexchange Carrier Freeze. An agreement between a customer and their local telephone company to prevent “slamming” on their long distance telephone bill.

Pipeline - An extremely high-speed, large capacity bandwidth connection.

Point of Presence (POP) - A location where a you can connect to a network through local telephone 

Point-to-Point Protocol - A program that allows a computer to use a telephone line and modem to make TCP/IP connections.

PON (Passive Optical Network) - a fiber-based network built without active electronics. Because a PON network uses optical splitters rather than costly active electronics, it is less expensive to build and maintain than a network that uses active electronics. PONs are still more expensive than copper-based networks. A PON network is usually used in a local loop to connect customers to the central office. BPON (Broadband Passive Optical Network) is a broadband PON.

POP - See Point of Presence and Post Office Protocol

Post Office Protocol (POP) - A system that allows hosts to get email from a server.

POPs (Population equivalents) – The population of a market multiplied by the percentage ownership of that market. 

PPP - See Point to Point Protocol 

Q, R Back to the top 

RBOC - Regional Bell Operating Company. In December 1983, a federal judge ordered AT&T to divide their 22 telephone companies into seven regional operating companies. The United States Department of Justice placed several restrictions on the RBOCs: they were not allowed to provide long distance, equipment manufacturing, or information services.

RED - Rural Economic Development. A program administered by TDS Telecom and other phone companies which includes advocating for rural development funding at the Federal and State levels. This program is designed to support local companies’ efforts with economic development projects in their communities.

Redundant Connectivity - A system of backup connections that ensures the network will continue functioning even if a problem is encountered on one of the connections.

Router - Highly sophisticated systems that connect local area networks (LANs). 

RUS - Rural Utilities Service. The RUS is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. It’s a source of financing and technical assistance for rural telecommunication systems.

S Back to the top 

Search Vehicles - Sources that offer a variety of methods to obtain information on the WWW (e.g. catalogs, directories, search engines, spiders). 

Secure Internet Protocols - A set of security rules or standards that determines how computers talk to each other on a network.

Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) - See Dialup Service

Shell Access - Basic Dialup Access to the Internet offering email and mail forwarding, telnet, FTP and IRC.

Single Bill Fee - Many long distance companies are now adding a fee to the phone bills of customers who are billed for long distance service through their local phone companies. TDS Long Distance does not charge this fee.

Slamming - When a telephone customer’s long distance service has been switched from one long distance company to another without the customer’s permission. This is illegal.

SLC - Subscriber Line Charge. A monthly fee paid by telephone customers. The money is used to compensate the local telephone company for part of the cost of maintenance and installation of the telephone wire, poles, and other facilities that link a customer’s home to the telephone network.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) - A method of transferring emails between computers on a network.

SLIP - See Serial Line Internet Protocol or Dialup Access

SLiPPP (Serial Line Internet Point to Point Protocol) - A popular Dialup Access service that comes with a Shell Account, a dedicated IP address, a unique Domain Address and high-speed 28.8 modems.

SMDS - See Switched Multimegabit Data Service 

SMTP - See Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Spectrum - Federal government designation of a range of frequencies for a category of use or uses. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated the 1900 MHz band for personal communications services. Allocation, typically accomplished in years-long FCC proceedings, tracks new technology development. However, the FCC can shift existing allocations to accommodate changes in spectrum demand. As an example, some UHF television channels were recently reallocated to public safety.

State Subscriber Line Charge - A charge mandated by some state public service or utility commissions to compensate the local phone company for part of the cost of providing local telephone lines associated with state services, i.e. intrastate long distance and local exchange services.

SSL - The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a common protocol for managing the security of data transmission over the Internet. You can tell if a Web page is encrypted by looking for the "lock" graphic within your browser window. Sites that need to transfer sensitive information such as passwords and credit card information from the browser to the server must have SSL enabled. TDS uses SSL for your protection.

Subscriber - The party identified in the account records of a common carrier as responsible for payment of the telephone bill. (1.) Any adult person authorized by such party to change telecommunications services or to charge services to the accounts; or (2.) any person contractually or otherwise lawfully authorized to represent such party.

Switch - A device that opens or closes circuits, completes or breaks an electrical path.

Switched Multimegabit Data Service (SMDS) - A new standard for extremely high-speed data transfer (up to 34 Mbps). 

T Back to the top 

T-1 - A leased line connection that can carry 1,544,000 bits per second.

T-3 - A leased line connection that can carry 44,736,000 bits per second.

Tariff - Documents filed by a telephone company with a state public utility commission and the FCC describing its services and the payments to be charged for the services.

TCP/IP - See Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol

Telecommunications Relay Center Fee/Charge/Surcharge - This state fee helps pay for the relay center that transmits and translates calls for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled. Mandated nationally by Congress with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it may also be called “Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf Tax.”

Telephone Network - The system of wires, fiber-optic cables, satellites and transmission towers that transmit telephone messages from caller to receiver.

Telnet - A program that allows Internet users to login to computers other than their host. Telnet also refers to the act of doing so.

Text Format vs. HTML Format - Some Web applications, such as email or Web pages, can either be viewed in Text or HTML formats. Text formats generally display only the words (text) in an email or on a Web page and not graphics, such as artwork or photos. HTML format allows display of both text and graphics.

Toll Call - A call to any location outside the local service area. Otherwise known as a long distance call.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) - A set of communications protocols or software necessary to access the Internet.

Trunk - A communication line between two switching systems. In other words, a telephone line.

TTY/TDD - Telephone Typewriter and Telephone Device for the Deaf. A telecommunication device for the hearing impaired using teletypewriter principals. The users call a special operator number and third-party translation.


U Back to the top 

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) - The standard for giving an WWW Internet address (e.g. http://www.tds.net)

Universal Service Fund Surcharge - Telephone customers also may see charges on their local and long distance bills for universal service. Companies are required by the FCC to contribute to a federal universal service fund (USF). The USF helps to make phone service affordable and available to all Americans, including those with low incomes, those living in areas where the costs of providing telephone service is high, schools, libraries, and rural health care providers. These fees vary by amount and by company. USF surcharges may also be assessed at the state level.

UNIX - The most common multi-user operating system for servers on the Internet.

Upload - To transfer a file or information from your computer to another.

URL - See Uniform Resource Locator

User Name - Your user name, also called user ID or account name, is the same as your login name. This is the name by which you and your electronic mailbox are identified online.

USF - Universal Service Fund. The National Exchange Carrier Association administers the USF. This is a mechanism designed to keep local exchange rates at reasonable levels, especially in high-cost, rural areas. The fund gets money from a surcharge on phone lines and uses those funds to offset telecommunication expenses in the high-cost areas.

UseNet Newsfeed - A huge, world wide "Users Network" of discussion groups, or newsgroups, connecting and sharing information from hundreds of thousands of machines.

UUCP Service (UNIX to UNIX Copy Program) - A method of transferring files between UNIX computers that includes Electronic mail. 

V Back to the top 

Virtual Host - A Web site that includes a customized Domain Name and unique IP address to your home page, giving the appearance that you have your own server directly connected to the Internet.

VoIP – (Voice over Internet Protocol) – A technology used to transmit voice over a data network using Internet Protocol, such as the Internet or intranet networks.

W, X, Y, Z Back to the top 

WAN - Wide Area Network. A data communications network which expands a LAN to link up with other LANs in remote buildings.

Web Site - A collection of Web documents that Internet users can access to learn information about a particular subject or company. 

Webmaster - The person responsible for the production and maintenance of a Web site.

Wi-Fi – A technology that provides short-range, high-speed data connections between mobile data devices (such as laptops) and nearby Wi-Fi access points (hardware connected to a wired network).

Wireless – Voice and data telecommunications technology that uses the radio-frequency spectrum rather than wires for transmitting and receiving voice, data and video signals.

Wireline – A conventional (wired) telephone network versus a wireless network.

World Wide Web (WWW) - A HyperText system that allows users to navigate, or look through, linked documents and resources.

WWW - See World Wide Web 

1 - 10 Back to the top 
128-bit Encryption - The latest Internet security standard for e-commerce and financial transactions, 128-bit encryption scrambles any data you send to a secure Web site (like TDS ePay) so that no one can read it without being authorized to do so. Encryption ensures that you are sending your information to a reputable business and not a "hacker" or "spoof" site. As a comparison, 128-bit encryption provides several trillion times better security protection than the 40-bit encryption used just a few years ago.

Here is an additional link to technical resources on the Web:

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