Glossary of Terms and Resource Guide

Learn about common terms used for broadband connectivity and telecommunications. You may see these terms throughout this website, and this guide provides a valuable resource for visitors to better understand the work we do. Not seeing what you need? Let us know, and we will update and refresh this information as needed.

ARE-ON (Arkansas Research & Education Optical Network)

ARE-ON is the state’s only publicly owned fiber optic network serving four-year universities and is a consortium of research and education institutions and public service agencies that was formed to foster the development of Arkansas’ research, education, public service and economic development.

Arkansas e-Link

A UAMS-lead project developed after UAMS submitted a BTOP grant titled, “The Arkansas Healthcare, Higher Education, Public Safety, & Research Broadband Integrated Initiative”. This initiative has been labeled “Arkansas e-Link” which is a simple depiction of this initiative and allows all partners to clearly maintain their own identity. After this grant concludes, Arkansas e-Link has the potential to include future projects, programs, collaborations and initiatives related to telehealth in Arkansas while maintaining an established and recognizable identity.


American Recovery and Reinvestment and Act of 2009. See also Broadband Stimulus Funding. In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed a $787 billion bill, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which allocated more than $7 billion to be focused on expanding the reach of broadband networks to underserved and underdeveloped areas that many service providers have yet to reach.


An ASP (Application Service Provider) hosts a variety of applications on a central server. For a fee, customers can access the applications that interest them over secure Internet connections or a private network. This means they do not need to purchase, install and maintain the software themselves; instead they rent the applications they need from their ASP. Even new releases, such as software upgrades, are generally included in the price.


This term is sometimes used to describe store and forward transmission of medical images or information because the transmission typically occurs in one direction in time.


Arkansas Telehealth Network (ATN) is the network of not for profit healthcare organizations throughout the state of which has as its managing body ATOM. ATOM (Arkansas Telehealth Oversight & Management) is a coalition of health care and state organizations that was funded by the FCC Universal Service fund to consolidate and expand telehealth services in Arkansas.


A method of verifying the identity of a person sending or receiving information using passwords, keys and other automated identifiers.


The part of a communications network that handles the major traffic using the highest-speed, and often longest, paths in the network.


Backhaul is transporting traffic between distributed sites (typically access points) and more centralized points of presence.


A measure of the information carrying capacity of a communications channel; a practical limit to the size, cost and capability of a telemedicine service. Greater bandwidth allows communication of more information in a given period of time. Bandwidth is generally described either in terms of analog signals in units of Hertz (Hz), which describes the maximum number of cycles per second, or in terms of digital signals in units of bits per second.


From Broadband Stimulus Funding: RUS calls their program the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) – NTIA calls their program the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).


Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA) requires the FCC to collect and examine data on the extent of broadband service capability in other countries as part of its annual consideration of whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans on a reasonable and timely basis (Section 706 Report ). To fulfill this mandate, the BDIA requires the FCC to compare the extent of broadband service capability (including data transmission speeds and price for broadband service capability) in a total of 75 communities in at least 25 countries abroad for each of the data rate benchmarks for broadband service utilized by the FCC to reflect different speed tiers.


Broadband is defined by the FCC as a minimum data transfer speed of 4 mbps down and 1 mbps up.

Broadband Stimulus Funding

In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed a $787 billion bill allocating more than $7 billion to be focused on expanding the reach of broadband networks to under-served and underdeveloped areas that many service providers have yet to reach. (See ARRA, BTOP, BIP)


From Broadband Stimulus Funding: NTIA calls their program Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) –RUS calls it the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).


The UAMS Center for Distance Health (CDH) is an innovative Center within the College of Medicine that unites Arkansas’ healthcare and education organizations to improve availability and quality of healthcare technology and broadband needed to serve the state’s rural, medically underserved population. For more information, please visit their web site,


Competitive Local Exchange Carrier. Local exchange carriers (LECs) are divided into incumbent (ILECs) and competitive (CLECs). A Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) is a telecommunications provider company that competes with other, already established carriers (generally the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the “cloud” that supports them. Cloud computing services often provide common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers. The concept generally incorporates combinations of the following:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a service (SaaS).


Coder-decoder is the videoconferencing device (e.g., Polycom, Tandberg, Sony, Panasonic, etc.) that converts analog video and audio signals to digital video and audio code and vice versa.

Dark Fiber

Dark fiber is optical fiber infrastructure (cabling and repeaters) that is currently in place but is not being used.

Data Center

A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls, and security devices.


Electronic Medical Records


The conversion of information into a scrambled form that effectively disguises it to prevent unauthorized access.


Federal Communications Commission


Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. Because of its advantages over electrical transmission, optical fibers are replacing copper wire in core networks.


Finding of No Significant Impact is issued when environmental analysis and inter-agency review during the Environmental Assessment (EA) process find a project to have no significant impacts on the quality of the environment. The FONSI document is the EA modified to reflect all applicable comments and responses. If it was not done in the EA, the FONSI must include the project sponsor’s recommendation or selected alternative. No formal public circulation of the FONSI is required, but the state clearinghouse must be notified of the availability of the FONSI. In addition, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends that the public be notified through notices in local newspapers.


Fiber to the Home is a term for any broadband network architecture that uses optical fiber to replace all/part of the metal local loop used for last-mile telecommunications to the home.


Healthcare Information Exchange


Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts also can provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center, called colocation.

Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU)

Indefeasible Right of Use (IRUs) are a legal interest created by contractual agreement that confers an indefeasible and exclusive right of access to some or all of the capacity in a telecommunications cable system on another party.  “Indefeasible” is a term meaning not liable to be annulled or forfeited.

An IRU, as used in telecom industry, means the right to use a fixed amount of communications capacity, or a certain communications facility, for a defined period of time.  As a general rule, IRUs are paid for up front in a single cash payment.


The geographical areas defining local telephone service. Any call within a LATA is handled by the local telephone company, but calls between LATAs must be handled by long-distance companies, even if the same local telephone company provides service in both LATAs.

Last Mile Projects

Last Mile Projects are any infrastructure projects where the predominant purpose is to provide broadband service to end users or end-user devices (including households, businesses, community anchor institutions, public safety entities, and critical community facilities).

Middle Mile Projects

Middle Mile Projects are broadband infrastructure projects that do not predominantly provide broadband service to end users or to end-user devices, and may include interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, or special access.


Megabits per second: 1,000,000 bits per second. A measure of how fast data can be transmitted.

National Broadband Plan

Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, unveiled March 16, 2010, is a FCC plan required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for improving broadband access throughout the United States. Its goal is providing 100 million American households with access to 100 Mbit/s (megabits per second) connections—as much as 20 times faster than what is generally available in 2010—by 2020. The ARRA required that the FCC draft the National Broadband Plan.


Network Operations Center is one or more locations from which control is exercised over a computer, television broadcast, or telecommunications network. UAMS operates a 24/7/365 NOC.


Notice of Funding Availability


Network Services Operations Committee


The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), “the voice of rural telecommunications,” is the premiere non-profit association representing more than 580 small and rural telephone cooperatives and commercial companies.


National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that advises on telecommunications policies pertaining to economic and technological advancement and the regulation of the telecommunications industry.


An online service provider (OSP) is a generic term that describes any company, organization or group that provides an online service.


A point-of-presence (POP) is an artificial demarcation point or interface point between communications entities in networking. It may include a meet-me-room.


Rights-of-Way (ROW) is a term meaning legal rights of passage over land owned by another. Carriers and service providers must obtain rights-of-way to dig trenches or plant poles for cable systems, and to place wireless antennae.


The central switching device in a packet-switched computer network that directs and controls the flow of data through the network.


The Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) defines a standardized packet format for delivering audio and video over IP networks. RTP is used extensively in communication and entertainment systems that involve streaming media, such as telephony, video teleconference applications and web-based push-to-talk features.


Rural Utility Service: A division of the United States Department of Agriculture, it promotes universal service in unserved and under served areas of the country with grants, loans, and financing.


Software as a Service is a model of software deployment whereby a provider licenses an application to customers for use as a service on-demand. SaaS software vendors may host the application on their own Web servers or download the application to the consumer device, disabling it after use or after the on-demand contract expires. The on-demand function may be handled internally to share licenses within a firm or by a third-party application service provider (ASP) sharing licenses between firms.

Telecommunications Act of 1996

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of U.S. telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934. This Act was a major stepping stone towards the future of telecommunications since this was the first time the “Internet” was included in broadcasting and spectrum allotment.


Telemedicine/Telehealth is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred through interactive audio/visual media for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes remote medical procedures or examinations. Telemedicine may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as complex as using satellite technology and videoconferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation. Telemedicine generally refers to the use of communications and information technologies for the delivery of clinical care.


Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, via telerobotics, at a place other than their true location. A popular application is found in telepresence videoconferencing, a higher level of video telephony which deploys greater technical sophistication and improved fidelity of both video and audio than in traditional videoconferencing.


The load on a communication device or system.

Unserved Areas

NTIA defines unserved as service areas (consisting of one or more contiguous census blocks) where at least 90% of households lack access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service.


Voice Over Internet Protocol: A new technology that employs a data network (such as a broadband connection) to transmit voice conversations.

Virtual Hosting/ Virtual Domain

Virtual hosting is a method that servers such as Web servers use to host more than one domain name on the same computer, sometimes on the same IP address. Also known as shared web hosting, virtual hosting allows a website owner to have a site hosted on a web server that is shared with other websites. In simple terms, the virtual hosting company’s server will allocate hosting services and bandwidth to more than one website.

The project described was made possible by Funding Opportunity number (Regulatory Identification Number) 0660–ZA28 and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 11.557 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Broadband USA. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of Broadband USA.

For a statement of network management policies, please visit our partners’ sites for the Arkansas Telehealth Oversight & Management (ATOM) Network, whose policy is currently in development, and the Arkansas Research & Education Optical Network (ARE-ON).