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Vocabulary from Discovering Computers Fundamentals 2011 Edition


Series of network standards developed by IEEE that specifies how two wireless devices communicate over the air with each other


Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. Newer network standard developed by IEEE that specifies how wireless devices communicate over the air in a wide area


Asynchronous Transfer Mode; service that carries voice, data, video, and multimedia at very high speeds bandwidth - The amount of data, instructions, and information that can travel over a communications channel


Network standard, specifically a protocol, that defines how two Bluetooth devices use short-range radio waves to transmit data


High-speed Internet connection provided through cable, DSL, fiber, radio signals, or satellite

broadcast radio

Wireless transmission medium that distributes radio signals through the air over long distances such as between cities, regions, and countries and short distances such as within an office or home

cable modem

Digital modem that sends and receives digital data over the cable television (CATV) network

cellular radio

High-speed Internet connection for devices with built-in compatible technology or computers with wireless modems

client/server network

Network in which one or more computers act as a server, and the other computers on the network request services from the server


Other computers and mobile devices on a network that rely on a server for its resources

coaxial cable

A single copper wire surrounded by at least three layers: (1) an insulating material, (2) a woven or braided metal, and (3) a plastic outer coating


Work online with other users connected to a server

collaborative software

Software that includes tools that enable users to share documents via online meetings and communicate with other connected users


Process in which two or more computers or devices transfer data, instructions, and information

communications channel

Transmission media on which data, instructions, or information travel

communications device

Hardware component that enables a computer to send (transmit) and receive data, instructions, and information to and from one or more computers

communications satellite

Space station that receives microwave signals from an earth-based station, amplifies (strengthens) the signals, and broadcasts the signals back over a wide area to any number of earth-based stations

communications software

Programs that (1) help users establish a connection to another computer or network; (2) manage the transmission of data, instructions, and information; and (3) provide an interface for users to communicate with one another


Coffeehouse, restaurant, or other location that provides personal computers with Internet access to its customers

dedicated line

Type of always-on connection that is established between two communications devices (unlike a dial-up line where the connection is reestablished each time it is used)

dial-up line

Temporary connection that uses one or more analog telephone lines for communications

dial-up modem

Communications device that can convert digital signals to analog signals and analog signals to digital signals, so that data can travel along an analog telephone line

digital modem

Communications device that sends and receives data and information to and from a digital line

document management system (DMS)

System for storage and management of a company's documents, such as word processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets


Acronym for digital subscriber line; type of digital technology that provides high-speed Internet connections using regular copper telephone lines

DSL modem

Modem that sends digital data and information from a computer to a DSL line and receives digital data and information from a DSL line


Network standard that specifies no central computer or device on the network should control when data can be transmitted

fiber-optic cable

Dozens or hundreds of thin strands of glass or plastic that use light to transmit signals

FTTP (Fiber to the Premises)

Dedicated line that uses fiberoptic cable to provide extremely high-speed Internet access to a user's physical permanent location

global positioning system (GPS)

Navigation system that consists of one or more earthbased receivers that accept and analyze signals sent by satellites in order to determine the receiver's geographic location


Software that helps groups of people work together on projects and share information over a network

home network

Network consisting of multiple devices and computers connected together in a home


Infrared Data Association; network standard used to transmit data wirelessly via infrared (IR) light waves

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)

Set of standards for digital transmission of data over standard copper telephone lines

ISDN modem

Modem that sends digital data and information from a computer to an ISDN line and receives digital data and information from an ISDN line


The time it takes a signal to travel from one location to another on a network

local area network (LAN)

Network that connects computers and devices in a limited geographical area such as a home, school computer laboratory, office building, or closely positioned group of buildings


Web application that combines services from two or more sources, creating a new application

metropolitan area network (MAN)

High-speed network that connects local area networks in a metropolitan area such as a city or town and handles the bulk of communications activity across that region


Radio waves that provide a high-speed signal transmission


Collection of computers and devices connected together, often wirelessly, via communications devices and transmission media, allowing computers to share resources

network card

Communications device that enables a computer or device that does not have built-in networking capability to access a network

network standard

Guidelines that specify the way computers access the medium to which they are attached, the type(s) of medium used, the speeds used on different types of networks, and the type(s) of physical cable and/or the wireless technology used

network topology

Layout of computers and devices in a communications network


Electrical disturbance that can degrade communications


Type of peer-to-peer network on which users access each other's hard disks and exchange files directly over the Internet


Personal Communications Services; term used by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to identify all wireless digital communications

peer-to-peer network

Simple, inexpensive network that typically connects fewer than 10 computers

picture messaging

Photo or other image, sometimes along with sound and text, sent to or from a smart phone or other mobile device

receiving device

Device that accepts the transmission of data, instructions, or information


Short for radio frequency identification; standard, specifically a protocol, that defines how a network uses radio signals to communicate with a tag placed in or attached to an object, an animal, or a person

ring network

Type of network topology in which a cable forms a closed loop (ring) with all computers and devices arranged along the ring


Communications device that connects multiple computers or other routers together and transmits data to its correct destination on a network

sending device

Device that initiates instructions to transmit data, instructions, or information


Computer that controls access to the hardware, software, and other resources on a network and provides a centralized storage area for programs, data, and information


Short message service; service that allows users to send and receive short text messages on a phone or other mobile device or computer

star network

Type of network topology in which all computers and devices on the network connect to a central device, thus forming a star

T1 line

The most popular T-carrier line

T-carrier line

Any of several types of long-distance digital telephone lines that carry multiple signals over a single communications line


Short for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol; network standard, specifically a protocol, that defines how messages (data) are routed from one end of a network to the other, ensuring the data arrives correctly

text messaging

Service that allows users to send and receive short text messages on a smart phone or other mobile device or computer

token ring

Network standard in which computers and devices on the network share or pass a special signal, called a token, in a unidirectional manner and in a preset order

transmission media

Materials or substances capable of carrying one or more signals in a communications channel

twisted-pair cable

Transmission media that consists of one or more twisted-pair wires bundled together

UWB (ultra-wideband)

Network standard that specifies how two UWB devices use short-range radio waves to communicate at high speeds with each other

value-added network (VAN)

Third-party business that provides networking services such as secure data and information transfer, storage, e-mail, and management reports

video messaging

Wireless messaging service that allows users to send short video clips, usually about 30 seconds in length, in addition to all picture messaging services

visual voice mail

Voice mail feature that allows users to view message details such as the length of calls and, in some cases, read message contents instead of listening to them

voice mail

Service that functions much like an answering machine, allowing a user to leave a voice message for one or more people

Web conference

Online meeting that takes place on the Web

Web services

Set of software technologies that allows businesses to create products and B2B (business-to-business) interactions over the Internet

wide area network (WAN)

Network that covers a large geographic area (such as a city, country, or the world) using a communications channel that combines many types of media such as telephone lines, cables, and radio waves


Short for wireless fidelity. Type of broadband Internet connection that uses radio signals to provide high-speed Internet connections to compatible or properly equipped wireless computers and devices


Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. Newer network standard developed by IEEE that specifies how wireless devices communicate over the air in a wide area

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

Network standard, specifically a protocol, that specifies how some wireless mobile devices such as smart phones can display the content of Internet services such as the Web, e-mail, and chat rooms

wireless Internet access point

Location where people can connect wirelessly to the Internet using notebook computers, smart phones, handheld game consoles, or other devices

wireless LAN (WLAN)

Local area network that uses no physical wires

wireless modem

Modem that uses the cell phone network to connect to the Internet wirelessly from a notebook computer, a smart phone, or other mobile device

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