ACRONYMS – UnlockWorldwide Glossary of Cellular Gobbledygooke

Acronyms and other Cellular Gobbledygooke

Acronyms and other Cellular Gobbledygooke

Does your inability to comprehend the cellular world’s terminology imply a lack of intelligence?

A is for Algorithm  … B …. B is for Baffled, C is Confused, D for Distressed, E for Exasperated, F for Frustrated etc…

Nah!  You are probably just middle aged.

For fellow sufferers have culled these explanatory notes from the American Telemedicine Association website ( SEE… your Doctor is not embarrassed to admit his ignorance.

Acronyms in the Cellular World       

The following is a non-exhaustive list of acronyms


  • 2G – Second Generation Term used to describe the first generation of digital cellular networks, as opposed to analogue. Network standards include GSM, TDMA, CDMAone and PDC.
  • 2.5G  – Term to describe the first packet overlays on 2G networks, offering accelerated data rates and always-on connection. GPRS and EDGE are examples of 2.5G technologies.
  • 3G – Third Generation  The vaulted ‘next generation’ of cellular, offering full IP capabilities and vastly accelerated data speeds. Intended to be a convergent point for a global standard, but still suffers from competing standards.
  • 3GPP – 3G Partnership Project Global standards body to oversee 3G. Among others, it has taken over the responsibilities of ETSI‘s SMG. AMR – Adaptive Multi-Rate New voice and data coding systems designed to increase capacity over the air interface.
  • Algorithm – To make a computer do anything, you have to write a computer program. To write a computer program, you have to tell the computer, step by step, exactly what you want it to do. The computer then “executes” the program, following each step mechanically, to accomplish the end goal. 
  • APN – Access Point Name A name (typically an IP address) assigned to a GPRS terminal to allow device identification and successful routing of data.
  • ARPU – Average Revenue Per User Key measure of the revenue generated by a network from all revenue sources. Bandwidth – The range of analogue frequencies or digital signal that can be through a particular medium. Typically measured in Hertz (analogue) or bits per second (digital). For instance, GSM operates at 9600 bits per second.
  • Base station – Abridged term for BTS. BIT Binary digIT The smallest unit is digital information, a single binary digit (such as a 0 or 1).
  • Bit rate  – Measure of the throughput rate of BITs in a connection. Typically given in terms of Kilobits per second (Kb/s) and Megabits per second (Mb/s). Circuit-switched GSM operates at a maximum of 9.6Kb/s, GPRS initially around 30-40Kb/s and UMTS between 384Kb/s and 2Mb/s.
  • Bluetooth Short range (<10m) radio standard utilising free 2.4GHz spectrum to provide data rates up to 1Mbit/s. Has built up huge industry momentum backed by major vendors of software and hardware. Initially will complement cellular, but may eventually begin to substitute when future standards with a longer range are finalised.
  • BSC Base Station Controller Manages several BTS‘s, controlling allocation of radio channels and handover between cells.
  • BTS – Base Transceiver Station Commonly termed the Base Station, the BTS consists of a radio transceiver covering a single cell. A number of BTS’s are connected to each BSC.
  • CDMA Code Division Multiple Access Digital cellular standard relying on code division of each channel. Primary markets are US, South Korea and Australia, though CDMA will be the access method for 3G mobile networks across the globe. CDMA is a method of spread spectrum transmission allowing a large number of users simultaneously to access a radio frequency band. As a phone gains access to the network it is assigned a unique ‘pseudorandom’ sequence of frequency shifts that services as a code to distinguish the phone.
  • CDMA2000 IMT-2000 supported CDMA technology championed by Qualcomm as an evolution for CDMAone networks. Intermediate technologies commonly termed 1x and 3x. 1x already live in Korea, promising 144kbps.
  • CDPD Cellular Digital Packet Data – An early packet data network operated over the AMPS network in the US provides up to 19.2 kbps of raw data speed. Packet switching allows each user to time-share channels, allowing multiple users on the same channel, and increasing capacity.
  • Cell – The coverage area of an individual base station or BTS in a mobile network. Can accommodate a hierarchical system of macrocells, microcells and picocells to increase coverage density.
  • cHTML Compact HTML – A slimline version of HTML designed for formatting data for mobile terminals. Used by i-mode in Japan, increasing numbers of microbrowsers and gateways support cHTML as well as WML. Should converge into XHTML in a few years.
  • Circuit switching – A method of switching a call ensuring a guaranteed end-to-end connection for the duration of the call, at the expense of considerable redundancy when transmission is not taking place. Contrasts with packet switching in future networks.
  • DNS – Domain Name Server – Specialised internet server that contains a database of IP addresses and routing information. The database is continually synchronised between different Domain Names Servers.
  • EDGE – Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution Additional enhancement to GSM/TDMA systems allowing data speeds up to 384kbit/s, by altering the RF modulation to allow a maximum data rate per timeslot of 59.2kbps. However, it is a relatively costly technology, with only a marginal improvement on GPRS performance and few signs of terminal development so rollouts in advance of 3G may be limited.
  • ETSI European Telecommunications Standards Institute Europe’s primary body for development of telecom’ standards GSM, GPRS and early UMTS standard were developed by its Special Mobile Group (SMG).
  • FDD – Frequency Division Duplex System of wireless communication where the data uplink and downlink are at different frequencies. Alongside TDD, this is a central transmission technology for 3G. gateway Internet server that operates as a gateway between a mobile network and the wider Internet. In addition to collecting information, a wireless gateway will also ensure that content is formatted correctly for the specific mobile device and access technology (such as WAP).
  •  GGSN – Gateway GPRS Support Node Connects the GPRS network to the Internet, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and corporate intranets, allowing simultaneous multiple secure data access points. The GGSN operates as the other end of the network to the SGSN. 
  • GPRS – General Packet Radio Service An upgrade to existing GSM and TDMA networks that uses packet switching rather than circuit switching in the network and across the radio interface, ideal for carrying most data traffic including email and browsing. A key advantage of this packet switching is that it allows always-on connection. This results in a decrease in call set-up time, which has hindered circuit-switched WAP access. Vendors pushing GPRS have suggested that data speeds of up to 115kbps will be possible over the technology. Most operators in Europe are currently upgrading their networks for GPRS and started to rollout service in early 2001 with data speeds up to 40kbps.
  • GRX – GPRS Roaming Exchange An IP backbone network that connects GPRS networks around the world so whenever you roam with GPRS you use a common IP backbone There are several potential providers of GRX services, so they must have peering arrangements with each other to ensure GPRS roaming can take place.
  • GSM – Global System for Mobile communications Digital cellular standard developed in Europe by ETSI. Originally called the Groupe Spéciale Mobile, it is now the dominant global cellular technology by users and footprint, with operators in 158 countries.
  • HLR – Home Location Register The central database containing subscriber identity details and call register.
  • HTML – Hypertext Markup language Most widely used authoring language on the WWW.
  • HSCSD – High Speed Circuit-Switched Data An upgrade to GSM radio interface allowing up to six GSM timeslots to be used by the same device at the same time. Basic GSM supports one voice or 9.6 kbps data (circuit switched data or CSD) call over just one of the eight time slots per 200kHz GSM radio channel. Practically, the system is limited to four time slots per device in each direction, but this still provides a transmission speed up to 38.4kbps over circuit switched GSM. HSCSD is ideal for streamed services such as narrowband video that require a dedicated circuit and that cannot tolerate the bursty nature of packet switched systems.
  • i-Mode – Proprietary mobile internet technology developed by Japan’s NTT DoCoMo for its PDC-P network. It uses c-HTML content formatting. In 18 months, i-mode has seen unprecedented take-up with over 12 million users to date.
  • IMT 2000 – International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 Body put together by the International Telecoms Union to oversee the standardisation of all potential 3G technologies. Originally it was intended that a single 3G standard would be approved but ultimately a number of standards were approved.
  • IP – Internet Protocol Standard protocol to allow all internet-connected devices to communicate with each other. It controls the formatting and tagging of data packets to allow their routing across the internet. 
  • IPv4 – IP Version 4 Current standard version of IP, developed in the early 1970s. With 32-bit addressing, IPv4 can only support around 5 billion devices, and has limited security. However, the world’s internet architecture is based around IPv4. 
  • Ipv6 -IP Version 5 Future version of IP allowing 128-bit addressing (enough internet addresses for every grain of sand in the world). IPv6 also offers improved security and QoS, but has limited compatibility with legacy IPv4 systems. Has been approved by the 3GPP as mandatory in 3G mobile core networks.
  • J2ME – Java 2 (Micro Edition) Version of Java specifically tailored for the processor, battery and display limitations of mobile devices.
  • Java – Device independent software development platform allowing the development of locally executable applications for mobile devices with a small memory footprint.
  • Latency – Measure of the delay in transmission of information across a network. A higher latency for packet switched GPRS currently makes it inappropriate for voice transmission.
  • MBS – Multistandard Base Station Advanced base station in a 3G network which will support UMTS, EDGE, GPRS and GSM calls.
  • Middleware  – Makes two or more applications work seamlessly together while remaining invisible to the end user.
  • MMS – Multimedia Messaging Service An evolution of SMS, which allows images and sounds to be added to a basic text message. Unlike SMS, MMS uses GPRS as a bearer so there is no limit to the length of messages. Despite early technical and commercial delays, MMS should become a key driver of future mobile data services. 
  • MP3 – MPEG-1/2 audio layer 3 De facto standard for transmission of compressed audio files over the internet. Increasing numbers of mobile terminals are supporting MP3 for download of music over a mobile network, and it has the potential to be a major application for the mobile internet.
  • MPEG 4 – Moving Picture Expert Group 4 Compression technology to allow the distribution of video over a limited bandwidth.
  • MS – Mobile Station The industry’s generic term for a mobile terminal, ranging from data cards to wireless telemetry devices to simple voice phones.
  • MSC – Mobile Switching Centre Powerful network subsystem that switches traffic between the BTS and core network. 
  • Node B New element in a 3G network, which assists in processing information between the base- stations and RNCs.
  • Packet switching A digital transmission method that divides a data stream into small ‘packets’ that are then individually switched. At termination the packets are reformed into the original message. This gives the network greater efficiency per channel than circuit switching and allows always on technologies such as GPRS which are billed only when data is sent.
  • PCU – Packet Control Unit Upgrade to a mobile base station to support packet data across the air interface.
  • PDN – Packet Data Network Generic term for a packet-switched network such as a corporate intranet that may be accessed remotely via the GRX system.
  • Peering – A relationship between two ISPs for transferring traffic directly rather than via an internet backbone provider. A key to successful GRX facilities.
  • PDC – Personal Digital Cellular – NTT DoCoMo’s proprietary digital cellular standard in Japan.
  • PDC-P – Personal Digital Cellular—Packet Packet switching overlay for the PDC network of NTT DoCoMo. Data rate is still 9.6Kbps as unpacketised PDC.
  • PDP context – Packet Data Protocol Context Technical term for a GPRS session. The PDP Context includes the necessary routing and control information for the GPRS connection.
  •  PIM – Personal Information Management System of aggregation of personal time-management information in a single repository. The PIM aggregates calendar, address book and task lists and can be synchronised between a variety of devices. It is typically a network-based application running alongside messaging platforms.
  •  QoS – Quality of Service Qualitative measure of the performance of a network. New technologies such as IPv6 can prioritise data with a number of QoS levels.
  • Unlock a Mobile Phone Remotely by CodeRAN – Radio Access Network The ‘local loop’ of a cellular network, incorporates the antennas, MBS, Node B and RNC in a 3G network.
  • RF – Radio Frequency Describes the low frequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum used for the transmission of cellular signals. In the case of GSM in Europe, the frequency range is either around 900MHz or 1800Mhz.
  • RNC – Radio Network Controller New element in a 3G network fulfilling the role of the 2G BSC. Key element for radio access network sharing since RNCs should soon be able to route calls to different core networks.
  • Roaming The ability to make and receive calls on a mobile network other than your home network. As well as routing any calls, the home and visited networks must have billing systems in place to charge the customer. At present, all roaming calls are routed back via the home network.
  • SGSN – Serving GPRS Support Node A GPRS network element that converts protocols and interfaces between the IP core and the radio network. It also supports mobility management, user verification and collection of billing data. Compare with GGSN.
  • SIM – Subscriber Identity Module A small integrated circuit inserted in a GSM mobile terminal to authenticate user identity. Additional memory can be used to store phone number and STK applications.
  • SMS – Short Message Service Standard for short text messages of no more than 160 characters sent between mobiles and charged on a per-message basis. SMS is the most profitable mobile data revenue stream the industry has seen. SMS uses excess GSM capacity (otherwise used for traffic signalling) and existing GSM handsets. SMS messages are stored in the network and delivered when the termination capacity is available. Termination fees for delivering SMS to other mobile networks are currently zero.
  • SMSC – SMS Centre Network server which processes and operator’s originated and terminated SMS messages.
  • STK – SIM Toolkit A 1995 standard for VAS and transactions via mobile phone. The STK is programmed into the user’s SIM card enabling the SIM to drive a handset’s user interface. The Toolkit application can be updated OTA by the network, giving the handset some customisable functionality. The first commercial launch of STK services was from the UK’s BT Cellnet in 1997. Since then it has become ubiquitous across GSM networks and is a key driver of the explosion of SMS usage with a primary use being to request or send information to the network via the SMS channel. 
  • TAP3 -Transferred Account Procedure 3 GSM standard to allow the transfer of Call Data Records during roaming that allow for billing of these services. TAP3 is the latest version allowing for the billing of roaming VAS including GPRS.
  • TDD – Time Division Duplex System of wireless communication where the data uplink and downlink utilise the same frequencies. Alongside FDD, this is a central transmission technology for 3G.
  • TDMA – Time Division Multiple Access Method for digital transmission that divides a wireless channel into a number of time slots for data transmission. Both GSM and IS-136 use TDMA technology. Compare with CDMA. Time slot The eight divisions of a channel in a TDMA network. Each time slot has a duration of 57 ?s.
  • UMTS – Universal Mobile Telephony Service The 3G standard adopted as an evolution path by the GSM world. It utilises the radio spectrum in a fundamentally different manner to GSM, with the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) system allowing both more efficient use of spectrum and far higher theoretical bandwidth at 384kbps for a mobile user and 2Mbps for a stationary user. 
  • UTRAN – UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network 3GPP standardised RAN, which forms part of a UMTS network.
  • VAS – Value-Added Services Generic term for services that a mobile operator can offer beyond basic voice. May include voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, SMS, WAP.
  •  VLR – Visitor Location Register A database linked to the GSM network MSC storing identity and call information. This information is passed to the HLR for billing.
  • WAP – Wireless Application Protocol Technical standard that allows mobile phones to access web-based content and formats online content in WML, an XML-family mark-up language. WAP has so far been pushed as the de facto standard for mobile web browsing by the industry-backed WAP Forum. WAP is gaining most penetration in GSM networks, but the standard will work with other network technologies including CDPD, CDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS, TDMA,FLEX, ReFLEX, iDEN, TETRA, DECT, DataTAC, and Mobitex.
  • W-CDMA – Wideband CDMA Form of spread spectrum CDMA adopted by UMTS for its air interface. Uses a channel bandwidth of 5MHz, rather than the 1.25MHz of existing CDMA systems.
  • WML – Wireless Markup Language Authoring language designed for mobile devices developed by the WAP Forum. Has been incorporated into the XML standard by the W3C.
  • XHTML – eXtensible HTML An evolution of XML intended to converge HTML, WML, XML and cHTML content to a common form.
  • XML – eXtensible Markup Language Advanced markup language family developed by the W3C (includes WML, but not HTML). Content is formatted according to device-specific style sheets to make it available to a wide variety of access methods.