A company that provides you your "airtime", i.e. the company which provides you the SIM and all of the other phone services. Example : Hutch, Airtel, Idea etc.
Advanced Mobile Phone Standard. Analogue standard used widely in North America.
The traditional way by which speech is transmitted in which the signal is continually varying. Normal fixed phones use analogue transmission. Analogue (ETACS) cellphones have been totally eclipsed by GSM phones which use digital transmission. The UK’s last analogue cellphone network is due to close down in summer 2001.
Security systems used on certain networks which are designed to eliminate cloning.
A specification for short-range wireless connectivity that allows users to make wire-free connections (via radio link) between a wide range of communications devices, usually in a range of 10-100 meters.
Caller Display (Or Caller ID / CLIP)
System found on digital mobile phones whereby the number of an incoming caller is displayed on-screen before the phone is answered. The service is also available on fixed phones, but requires a special phone or add-on display unit, and necessitates paying an additional fee. Certain networks have the provision of "hiding" your number from being displayed on other phones.
Facility on some answering machines that allows the user to hear who’s calling so they can decide whether to answer in person or not.
Code Division Multiple Access : Digital cellular standard gradually coming to existence. Uses coding of digital segments of calls to enable them to use vacant channels over a broad range of frequencies.
Service provided by digital cellphone networks where useful info is provided to users via on-screen text messages. Example : Vodafone and BT Cellnet inform customers of the STD code of the area they are currently located enabling them to take full advantage of local call discount schemes etc.
A radio phone system in which a network of transmitters links the mobile user to the public phone system. Each transmitter covers users in its own ‘cell’.
Calling Line Identification. A range of services in which the number of a caller can be accessed by the recipient.
Whereby a ‘cloned’ analogue cellphone is illegally re-chipped with an ESN belonging to another. Can also refer to a phone ‘badged’ by one company and sourced from another.
The area in which a cellphone can make or receive calls. Coverage is usually expressed by networks as a percentage of the resident population who could use mobiles outside their own homes. Geographic coverage, therefore, is far inferior to this ‘by population’ figure.
The standard used by first-generation cordless phones. This analogue system can make use of just eight channels (some phones use only one), which can lead to problems with interference, particularly in built-up areas.
A digital cellular system operating in the 1800MHz band. Another name for PCN or GSM1800 networks.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication. Digital standard for cordless phones. Using 120 channels over 10 frequencies, these cordless phones offer speech quality which is vastly superior to that offered by traditional (CT0) analogue cordless phones.
Cradle for holding a phone upright while it is charging. Some models have provisions for completely discharging the battery before charging it thereby enhancing battery performance.
High-tech way of transmitting speech across a telephone network. The speech is sampled to create a series of ‘ones’ and ‘noughts’, which can be transmitted, then retranslated into normal sound at the other end. One of the main advantages of digital cellphones is that they allow several cellphones in the same area to use the same frequency simultaneously.
Facility for sending multi-frequency tones across the network from a phone. Each number, when pressed, transmits its own individual sound. Necessary for accessing some network features (such as voicemail) or for some information services.
Discontinuous transmission. Battery-saving feature on some phones. When switched on, it conserves power by turning off transmission during pauses in speech. However, it impairs sound quality.
Phones that can switch between two different bands of frequencies. All new phones in the UK are now dual-band, capable of switching between GSM1800 and GSM900 frequencies. Useful for travelers , allowing roaming on a greater number of networks across the world. Phones that can switch between GSM900 and GSM1900 operation, for use by travelers to America (the Bosch World 718, Ericsson I888 and Ericsson T28 World), are also now available.
Phone that can operate using two different standards. Dual-mode digital/analogue cellphones are currently available in the USA. Dual-mode GSM/DECT handsets, that can switch between cordless and cellphone communication, have been introduced by BT Cellnet and Sagem.
The more powerful the transmitter in your cellphone, the better it will be in giving you coverage in remote areas. Hand portable phones are Class 4 devices (as defined by the DTI) and offer maximum output of 2 Watts (although this is usually limited to 0.6 Watts). Carphones and transportables are usually Class 2 devices offering a maximum signal output of 8 Watts.
Electronic Serial Number. Unique identifier transmitted by analogue cellphones.
Extended Total Access Communications System. The standard used by UK analogue cellphones. Originally termed TACS, additional frequencies were added to increase network capacity.
European Telecommunications Standards Institute. The people who wrote the specification for GSM and DECT.
General Packet Radio Service. Data communications upgrade for GSM networks, enabling a maximum data rate of up to 115kbps.
Global System for Mobile Communications. A digital cellular communications standard used throughout Europe, and elsewhere around the world. The standard is used in three frequency bands – 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 1900 MHz. In the UK, the term GSM is commonly used to mean GSM 900 – while GSM 1800 networks are often referred to as PCNs.
GSM network operating in the 900 MHz band – as used by more than 100 countries around the world.
GSM network operating in the 1800MHz band – as used a small but growing number of countries around the world.
GSM network operating in the 1900 MHz band – as used in several states in the USA plus parts of Canada and South America.
As you move, the network transfers the handling of a call from one cell to another. The process happens automatically.
Device that allows you to use a cellphone without having to hold the handset. Available as an accessory for most mobile phones.
High Speed Circuit Switched Data. An enhancement to GSM networks that enables data speeds to be boosted from 9.6 kbps in multiples up to 57.6 kbps, by combining timeslots.
International Mobile Equipment Identity. A unique serial number used on digital mobile phones. To see your IMEI number, key in *#06# in your cellphone.
International Mobile Telecommunications-2000. The ITU’s concept of a ‘family’ of compatible third generation mobile technologies. UMTS is the European member of the IMT-2000 ‘family’.
Integrated Services Digital Network. High quality fixed telephone line used primarily for data transfer between companies or for video conferencing.
International Telecommunications Union. Geneva-based organisation within which governments and the private sector co-ordinate global telecom networks and services.
Local Area Network. Communications system used by offices that connects computers to their servers, and allows employees to share files and printers.
The Office of Telecommunications. Independent watchdog for the UK telephone and mobile industry.
Outgoing message. What the caller hears when they dial your answer machine or voice-mail box.
Button on a phone that allows you to dial a number just by pressing this one key. Also known as a "fastkey".
Private Automatic Branch Exchange. Automated multi-extension exchanges or switchboards as used nowadays by most offices.
Pre-pay / Pay-as-you-go
Term used for no-contract, no rental charge services where you buy credit ‘vouchers’ in advance for calls. Each network has its own pre-pay service.
Private Branch Exchange. Multi-line switchboard exchange, as used in many offices.
Small accessory that allows you to connect a suitable digital mobile phone with a portable computer. Primarily designed for sending and receiving faxes and digital files (such as email).
An older term for the PC card.
Personal Communications Network. Another term for a GSM 1800 network.
Personal Communications System operating in the 1900MHz band. Another name for GSM1900.
Personal Digital Assistant. A top-of-the-range personal organiser which allows you to store information and to use simple computer programs. Also known as a palmtop computer. The Nokia 9110 Communicator is a PDA with a built-in mobile phone.
Private Mobile Radio. Type of mobile and walkie-talkie equipment commonly used by taxi firms, security guards, and utility companies. The advantage over cellphones is that once the equipment is paid for, and a license is bought, there are no call costs.
Public Switched Telephone Network. Technical term to describe the fixed, wired phone system – as operated by British Telecom.
Answering machine facility that allows messages to be retrieved from another phone.
Ringer Equivalence Number. Printed on all BT-approved fixed phones and peripherals. The sum of the RENsof all devices connected to a normal wired phone line should not exceed four.
Using your cellphone on networks other than the one to which you pay your monthly line rental. In other words, using your phone abroad. How many states/countries you can roam to will depend on the number of roaming agreements your network has signed, and on the type of phone you have access to. Roaming may be requested from your network or airtime provider.
Radio frequency. Term used to describe the signal transmitted or received by a mobile phone.
Connection socket commonly found on computers. Some cellphones have the ability to be connected to a PC through this socket to facilitate the updating of personal directories, or for writing SMS text messages.
Radio that is capable of scanning hundreds of frequencies. Used by enthusiasts to monitor PMR, emergency service, analogue cellular, and air traffic control transmissions. The essential device for the criminal who wants to clone analogue cellphones.
Common feature on cellphones that allows you to store a number in a temporary memory on the handset while you are having a conversation.
Subscriber Identity Module. The smart card used in digital phones. It carries the user’s identity for accessing the network and receiving calls and also stores personal information, such as a phone directory and received SMS messages. Most SIMs are the size of a postage stamp.
Short Message Service. Two-way text messaging service. Messages of up to 160 characters can be sent at low cost. Some older handsets only allow incoming messages (mobile-terminated SMS – or SMS-MT); all new phones also allow you to write and send text from your handset (mobile-originated SMS, or SMS-MO). Can be sent between phones on any network.
Button on a mobile which changes function depending on what you are doing with the phone. Its current function highlighted using a keyword immediately above the button on the phone’s LCD screen, helps greatly in simplifying the use of cellphones.
Small office – Home office. Category of products or services designed to appeal to those working from home. These people are also known as "teleworkers".
The number of hours that a freshly-charged battery will keep a mobile running without making or receiving a call. When it is switched on, power is used continuously by the phone to keep it in contact with the local cell site, so that the network knows where you are, should you receive a call.
Total Access Communications System. Original analogue standard used in the UK. Also see, ETACS.
The number of minutes of continuous speech that a freshly charged battery will allow you to make on a cellphone.
Time Division Multiple Access. Type of processing system used by digital mobile phones that allows several handsets in the same area to use the same frequency. Each conversation is allocated its own time slot – so that you only hear the conversation for the fraction of each second. However, as the interval between each burst of signal is small, these gaps are imperceptible to the two people having the conversation. Both GSM and DECT use TDMA to ensure efficient use of allotted frequencies.
A heavyweight, two-piece mobile phone which has a high power output, for use in remote areas.
Small charger that connects direct to a socket in the phone. Unlike with a desktop charger, there is no cradle to support the handset. Usually, "charger" implies "travel charger".
Triple-band phones are capable of operating on three GSM frequency bands – the GSM 900 and GSM 1800 frequencies used in over 100 countries worldwide plus the GSM 1900 frequency band that’s increasingly being adopted in America.
A charger which takes eight or more hours to replenish the battery. Better for longevity of battery, but less convenient than fast chargers.
Predictive text inputting system designed (by Tegic) to make text message writing easier. Instead of having to select letters individually by pressing each key numerous times, mobiles with T9 software ‘guess’ what you’re writing as you go along, reducing the number of key presses required.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. New mobile communications standard offering numerous voice, data and multimedia applications. The eventual successor to GSM, the first UMTS network will begin to be deployed in 2001. Also see, IMT-2000.
Facility offered by a few handsets enabling calls to be made by using voice commands rather than punching in numbers. The memory can be programmed to store and identify names spoken into the handset and call numbers associated with them.
Cellphone service provided by the networks that records a message for you when you can’t, or don’t want to answer a call. Unlike a traditional answerphone, the system can take messages for you when you are using the telephone.
Wireless Application Protocol. An agreed standard which enables WAP-compatible mobile phones to access Internet-type services (such as news, travel, entertainment, finance, sport etc) via their menu system and LCD screens.
Wideband Code Division Multiple Access. Air interface standard which will enable Third Generation mobile phones (due in around 2003) to carry new mobile multimedia services (see UMTS).