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A mobile phone glossary?

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Active cradle
A holder installed in a vehicle (as part of a hands-free kit) with an integrated battery charger for mobile phones. See passive cradle.
Air interface
Specification for radio transmission between base station and mobile phone. It defines the frequency utilisation, the bandwidth of the individual radio channels, the coding procedure used (W-CDMA, TD-CDMA, cdma2000) and other parameters relating to the radio technology used.
Air time
The duration of a call made from or to a mobile phone (active if the mobile subscriber calls, passive if the mobile subscriber is called).
Abbreviation for Advanced Mobile Phone Service. An analog mobile network standard that uses the 800 MHz band, used mainly in the USA. Precursor to the digital standard D-AMPS.
The registration procedure in a mobile network that authenticates the user's identity.
A device used to send or receive electromagnetic radiation. An antenna is said to be omnidirectional if it does not radiate in any particular direction, at least on one plane.
Athermal effect
Biological effects of EMF which are not attributable to thermal effects.
Capacity of a transmission channel. Because capacity normally depends on the size of the available frequency range, the “bandwidth” (i.e. the width of the frequency band) is generally synonymous with the maximum transmission rate that is available to a subscriber.
Call barring. There are different types of call barring, e.g. BAIC (Barring of Incoming Calls), or BAOC (Barring of All Outgoing Calls).
Base station
A transmission/reception station through which all the radio traffic of a cell passes. Communication signals are transported by lines or Hertzian packets
Base Transceiver Station (BTS)
Technical term for a mobile radio base station. A BTS houses the transmitter and receiver equipment and antennae for a given radio cell. Several BTSs are administered by a single Base Station Controller (BSC), which in turn is under the control of a Mobile Switching Centre (MSC).
Basic charge
A monthly charge payable to the network operator. The amount depends on the tariff agreed. The user can opt for one of a number of agreements ranging between one with a low basic charge and higher communication charges and one with a high basic charge and lower communication charges.
A short-range radio technology that allows the wireless networking of devices. In future many mobile phones, organisers and also PCs will routinely have a Bluetooth capability. The radio link can be up to 10 metres and allows data to be exchanged between mobile phones and organisers. Line-of-sight is not required between the devices. Bluetooth transmits in the frequency range 2.4 to 2.4835 GHz and achieves data rates of up to 721 kilobits per second.
Business rate
A special mobile telephone rate characterised by a high basic charge and low communication charges. This formula is particularly suited to customers who telephone a lot.
Business Support & Control System (BSCS)
Integrated application software providing business support to GSM network operators in the following functional areas: customer and subscriber administration, order processing, configuration and control of service network, call data processing, tariffing, invoicing, administration of receivables and payables, fraud management.
C network
An analog car network in the 450 MHz band (1984-1997).
Call diversion
A feature used to divert incoming calls on a mobile phone to any other telephone or to a Mailbox/Combox.
Call forwarding
This term covers a range of different types of call forwarding.
CFB: Call Forwarding on Busy
CFNRc: Call Forwarding on Not Reachable
CFNRy: Call Forwarding on No Reply
CFU: Call Forwarding Unconditional
Call Waiting (CW)
Mobile network feature that indicates the presence of a new call during a conversation. The called subscriber may accept the new call, in which case the original conversation is put on hold. The cell is thus interrupted momentarily without the connection being terminated.
Calling Line Identification Presentation (CLIP)
Feature enabling a called subscriber to recognise the calling party by his or her number on the telephone display before the call is even established.
Car kit
Accessories for installing a mobile phone in a car, including a cradle, connection to an external antenna and a hands-free attachment.
The smallest geographical unit of a mobile network. While the maximum signal range is almost 38 km in theory, it is usually a lot less in practice: the propagation conditions are rarely ideal and more network capacity is required than can be provided by a single cell - irrespective of the population density. The typical radius of cells ranges between 500 m (in built-up areas) to 5 km (in rural areas).
Circuit switched
In GSM, transmission is circuit-switched. This means that the communication path between the GSM mobile phone and the far end is occupied as long as the connection is maintained i.e. even during pauses in a conversation or in pauses during data transmission over GSM. This is basically inefficient, as data communication is normally not continuous but occurs in bursts, i.e. in the form of packets. Often the line is only utilised for one-third of the time, going to waste the rest of the time. With GPRS, on the other hand, once an Internet site has been downloaded, the network capacity used is immediately released once again. Only when data is actually being downloaded from the Internet is any network capacity used. If several channels are bundled together, the term High Speed Circuit Switched Data is used (see HSCSD).
Also known as Mailbox, this is an answering machine feature for mobile phones. It can be activated according to a variety of criteria, e.g. call forwarding to Combox if the user does not reply, or if the mobile phone is switched off. The callers' messages are recorded and the user can listen to them later on. When the mobile phone is switched on again, a special signal indicates that there are new messages in the Combox.
Coverage of a mobile network
The percentage of the population (and not the territorial area) within range of a radio network for mobile telephony.
Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic (CAMEL)
Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic is a platform developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) which applies the basic principle of intelligent networks (IN) to the GSM mobile radio telephone system.
Data throughput rate
Data content transmitted per unit of time.
DCS 1800
Abbreviation for Digital Cellular System. A new variant of the GSM standard in the 1800 MHz band. Since April 1997, this system has been officially known as GSM 1800. Thanks to its wider frequency range, this network has a greater capacity than GSM in the 900 MHz band.
Abbreviation for Digital European Cordless Telephone, which is the European standard for cordless phones. Technically speaking, this is a mobile phone system made up of a base station and a picocell. Future developments in DECT and GSM should lead to a combination of these standards to create a homogeneous mobile communication system. See UMTS.
Digital network
The networks operated by Swisscom Mobile, Sunrise and Orange are digital networks. Voice and data are retransmitted exclusively in the form of digital signals.
Technical term for data transmission from the network or from an (Internet) provider to the subscriber. The return channel, i.e. the reverse transmission direction, is referred to as an “uplink”. With asymmetric transmission methods, normally data rates are higher in the downlink direction than in the uplink direction. With symmetric transmission the data rates are the same in both directions.
Dual-band mobile phone
A handset that can work in two different frequency bands (in Europe : 900 MHz and 1800 MHz).
Dual-mode mobile phone
A handset that can work with both the GSM and DECT (cordless phone) transmission technologies.
Electromagnetic fields EMF
Combined electrical and magnetic field at high frequencies.
Electromagnetic radiation
A field varying in time and place, characterised by the intensity of electrical and magnetic fields, and which propagates from the source of radiation (see antenna).
Electromagnetic waves
Modified currents and voltages generate oscillation of the electrical and magnetic field which propagates in a vacuum.
High, specific EMF sensitivity
Emergency call service
This function is used to call for help. It can be used without knowing the PIN number and, for most handsets, without a SIM card.
Intensity of radiation in places where people are present.
Emission limits
Restriction of the intensity of the EMF to protect against harmful effects.
Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
EDGE allows higher data transmission speeds based on the GSM standard. This system is sometimes referred to as “2.5G”, to denote a halfway house between the GPRS-enhanced GSM technology and UMTS. Thanks to improved coding, data rates of up to 48,000 bits per channel are possible with EDGE. The acronym E-GPRS, also frequently used, stands for "Enhanced GPRS" = enhancement of the GPRS standard. When EDGE and GPRS are combined, data rates of up to 384 kilobits per second are possible.
European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI)
European body that develops and manages standards in telecommunications, based in Sophia-Antipolis near Nice (France). Among other things ETSI is responsible for protocols and transmission procedures in GSM and UMTS networks. Over 770 manufacturing companies, network operators, universities and other organisations from 52 countries are members of ETSI. www.etsi.org
Nodes for managing the data from various cells
The number of oscillations per second of the electromagnetic field. It is measured in Hertz (Hz).
Abbreviation for General Packet Radio Services. This is a future standard in mobile telephony which dynamically bundles channels together (in "packets"), enabling high-speed data transmission. Mobile Internet access will become more widespread thanks to this standard.
Abbreviation for Global System for Mobile Communications. The uniform GSM standard ensures perfect compatibility between networks and mobile phones in any location. For example, a user in Switzerland can use his mobile phone to call or receive calls from Germany or Spain. The abbreviation originally stood for "Group Special Mobile", which was the name of the study group that developed a European standard for mobile networks in 1982. Today, this network is the result of their work - the standard for digital mobile telephony (now used all over the world). See UMTS.
This the automatic transfer of an active mobile call from one cell (zone covered by one base station) to another.
Another term for a mobile phone.
Hands-free kit
A kit enabling the subscriber to use a mobile phone while driving a car without having to let go of the steering wheel. Such a kit usually comprises a handset cradle, a microphone, a loudspeaker, power supply cables and a black box for remote control of the electronics.
Home Location Register (HLR)
Database in mobile telecommunications networks which holds the subscriber data for mobile customers. Every user is allocated to an HLR. The HLR provides network-internal information on the services to which subscribers have subscribed. It also contains details of the present whereabouts of the customer – without this information, roaming is not possible.
A Simpson.
Technical term for a narrowly defined geographical area. In the context of Public Wireless LAN it refers to heavily frequented locations in which wireless access to the Internet is possible at the particularly high data rate of 2 million bits per second. This transmission technology is presently available at over 100 selected hotspots such as conference centres, airports, railway stations and hotels all over Switzerland.
High Speed Circuit Switched Data is a data transmission technology for mobile communication networks. It is based on the same principle as an ISDN line, i.e. a number of communication channels are bundled together to create a high-performance data transmission channel enabling speeds of up to 57.6 kbps (close to the ISDN standard).
Abbreviation for International Mobile Equipment Identity. This is an internationally recognised 15-digit number unique to each mobile phone. It can be used to identify and block a stolen handset. Once a handset has been blocked, it can no longer be used, even with a new SIM card. The IMEI is displayed on the screen of the mobile phone by entering *#06# .
i-mode technology was introduced by the Japanese mobile radio provider NTT DoCoMo. Today it can be accessed over GPRS, but in future it will also be retrievable via UMTS. The programming language which lies behind i-mode is iHTML, an enhanced version of the HTML programming language used to create Internet pages. Every provider who programs in HTML can also make content available in iHTML without much further expense. Compared with WML, the programming language for WAP content, iHTML has a better graphics capability and is faster and simpler to program.
Abbreviation for International Mobile Subscriber Identity. This number is used to unambiguously identify the mobile subscriber to the system. The number is made up of the 3-digit mobile country code (MCC), the 2-digit mobile network code (MNC) and a maximum of 10 digits that serve to identify the user.
Indoor / in-house radio coverage
The mobile telephone network within buildings. This is not always easy to create owing to the attenuation produced by the walls and concrete reinforcement.
Instant Messaging
The Internet has made instant messaging possible. At the heart of this is spontaneous communication with friends or business partners who are also online. AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and – in Switzerland – Bluewin are among the well-known Instant Messengers. An Instant Messenger's functionality will normally include, for example, a buddy list with which friends and colleagues can be invited and then displayed in the list. Status information is also displayed, showing which members of the buddy list are logged on to the Internet. Other status information can include, for example, "absent", "in a meeting", or "in a good mood". Communications can be sent to one or more members of the buddy list. This makes it possible to chat with several people at once.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Based in Geneva, the ITU is an international organisation in which governments and private industry coordinate global telecommunications networks and services. The first international telegraph treaty was signed in Paris by the 20 founder members on 17 May 1865. The ITU is unique among international organisations in that it is based on the principle of cooperation between government and private industry.
ISDN (fixed network)
Abbreviation for Integrated Services Digital Network. The combination of two networks and services hitherto separated (voice and data) on a single access line. The basic access comprises two 64-kbps bearer channels, or B-channels, and one 16-kbps delta channel, the D-channel. This service can be used to transmit data (fax, text, images, etc.) and voice calls simultaneously. ISDN enables the integration of telecommunications services into the PC and forms the basis for computer-integrated telephony (CIT).
See Combox.
Abbreviation for Megahertz. 1 MHz = 1 000 000 oscillations per second. This is used to measure frequency.
Small cell structure for the mobile telecommunications network, mainly used in cities. Radio cells with diameters of 20 to 30 kilometres are known as "macrocells". Radio cells with diameters of 1 to 2 kilometres are called "microcells". Even smaller than these are picocells, whose diameters are often only a few hundred metres. The smaller a radio cell is, the more subscribers can be handled in any given area.
Mobile communications masts
Sending and receiving unit of a mobile communications system
Mobile office
Basic equipment for mobile voice and data communication: a laptop computer with integrated PCMClA modem and a link to a mobile phone, or a mobile phone with an integrated modem connected with a series cable to a laptop computer. Thus, users on the road can access their company's IT system, surf the web, and send and receive e-mail and faxes.
Mobile Switching Center (MSC)
Switching centre in the mobile radio network. An MSC provides interfaces to the connected BTSs, the Visitor Location Register (VLR) and other MSCs. An MSC mediates mobile radio connections and administers the handover to adjacent base stations, call charge metering and the provision of internal network convenience functions and services for subscribers.
Multimedia Messaging (MMS)
Multimedia Messaging is based on the same principle as conventional SMS. Compared with the SMS, which is restricted to a maximum of 160 text characters and cannot exceed 160 bytes, up to 100 kilobytes of different types of data, such as text, short tunes, pictures, photos or brief video sequences, can be transmitted with MMS.
Network capacity
Estimated number of voice calls and data transactions which may be made on the basis of local conditions and the number of subscribers. Capacity is stated in Erlangs (one voice call of one hour's duration).
Network cells
Radio cell covering a specific area with the requisite field strength.
Network infrastructure
The communication system comprises base stations, masts, exchanges and the requisite communication lines.
Non-ionising electromagnetic radiation (NIEMR) is the term used to describe electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that do not ionise any molecules or atoms, in other words, they do not modify cells. The radiation emitted by mobile communication antennas is non-ionising radiation.
Abbreviation for the Federal Office for Communications.
Abbreviation for the Ordinance on Protection from Non-ionising Radiation. Mobile telephony uses radio waves and there is considerable discussion about non-ionising radiation in this regard. The Federal Law relating to the Protection of the Environment stipulates in a general manner that the non-ionising radiation in the environment should be limited to a level that does not represent a danger or nuisance to human beings. In the Ordinance on Protection from Non-ionising Radiation, the Federal Council specifies the strict maximum levels of emissions from mobile phone that must be observed wherever there are human beings.
Passive cradle
Unlike an active cradle, this is used only to hold a mobile phone in a vehicle.
Abbreviation for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. This is the standard used for the credit-card-sized modules used in laptop computers (e.g. a network card or extended memory). PCMCIA modem cards used with portable devices provide access to the mobile Internet or e-mail (see mobile office).
Abbreviation for Personal Identification Number. Each SIM card has a secret 4-digit code to protect it against any unauthorised use. Unlike the PINs assigned to bank cards, the user can change the PIN in GSM. A specific PIN is designed to control additional functions, e.g. setting the billing limits. The user cannot operate the handset without knowing the PIN code, except for making emergency calls. After an incorrect PIN has been entered three times, the handset is blocked and can only be unblocked by entering the correct PUK.
Prepaid cards
Prepaid telephone cards, like those used in the fixed network, are also available for mobile phones. Once the call credit has been used up, it can be topped up at any time. A prepaid card that is not topped up remains valid for a certain length of time, during which the user can continue to receive calls. These cards are not subject to a basic access charge, and there are no plans to introduce user registration for these cards.
Public Wireless LAN (PWLAN)
Wireless broadband data transmission in the public domain with access to Internet and intranet (see WLAN).
With its relatively low range of a few hundred metres, PWLAN is a semi-mobile technology and is used at "hotspots" like airports, railway stations, congress centres and hotels. Due to its high-speed (up to 2 Mbps), PWLAN makes it possible to work on a laptop with the convenience of an office computer.
Abbreviation for Personal Unblocking Key. The PUK is a secret code made up of 8 to 10 digits. It is used to reactive a SIM card that has been blocked and to define a new PIN.
Radiated power
The electric power emitted by an antenna.
Radio relay
Feeding of a base station via point-to-point connection using a radio relay reflector.
Distance between the mast (transmitter) and subscriber (receiver) at the limit of the cell.
A network feature for receiving, amplifying and retransmitting a mobile phone signal. It enables a cell to be extended or an in-house system to be created (signal reception outside and transmission inside).
A feature that enables the user to call from outside his own GSM network and to receive calls on his mobile phone while abroad. Calls can be set up in a third (foreign) mobile network provided that the operator has signed a roaming agreement with at least one partner in the country in question. Once abroad, the handset automatically switches to the foreign operator's GSM network. If there is more than one, the handset can be programmed to automatically choose the network with the strongest signal, or the user can choose a particular mobile network with the on-screen menu. When a mobile phone is abroad, it can be reached by dialling the usual number (without any international prefix), so that the caller does not have to know that the called party is abroad. In the opposite direction, however, a mobile user calling from abroad has to dial the international dialling code to make a call to his own country. For incoming calls, the communication charges are shared between the caller and the called party. For outgoing calls, a roaming supplement is added to the call charge according to the rates applicable for the country in question.
The area served by a mobile communication system is made up of individual cells, each of which has a base station at its centre. Rollout is the term used to describe the installation of a complete mobile telephone system for which the location and radio cell size and the erection of base stations has been defined. All construction is subject to an approval process with the authorities, which differs for each canton and site.
Abbreviation for Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape.
Specific absorption rate, the capacity absorbed in the tissue in W/kg.
Seamless handover
Seamless handover refers to uninterrupted switching between PWLAN, UMTS and GPRS.
Abbreviation for Subscriber Identity Module. This a smart card containing the user authorisation data. The mobile phone is activated by inserting the SIM card: the user receives his telephone number and access authorisation on the network. The SIM card identifies the user of the handset as an authorised network user. The integrated circuit on the card is also used for storing other information, such as the names and numbers of people called regularly, SMS messages received, etc. Older SIM cards are in the form of a credit card, while the newer "plug-in" cards are hardly bigger than a fingernail. These are pressed out of the larger cards before being used.
Site sharing
Joint use of a site
Abbreviation for Short Message Service. This service is used for sending and receiving short messages of up to a maximum of 160 characters. The text can be typed in on the keyboard of any mobile phone. Short messages are first transported on the GSM network to the SMS centre (SMSC), from where they are forwarded to the destination subscriber.
Standby time
The length of time a mobile phone is turned on and ready to receive calls without having to recharge or replace the battery. During a conversation, phones consume about tens times more energy than in "standby" mode. Standby time is shorter when travelling because the phone is continually moving from one radio cell to another and has to re-register each time. An active cradle can be used to prevent the battery from running down too quickly.
System limits
Precautionary Swiss limits restricting the electromagnetic fields of a system.
Telecommunications Law (LTC)
This law governs the competition among telecommunication service providers and also ensures the provision of a universal service to the Swiss population. In Art. 1, the LTC outlines its aim to ensure that a range of cost-effective, high-quality and nationally and internationally competitive telecommunications services is available to private individuals and the business community.
Thermal effect
Effects caused by an increase in temperature.
Transmission power
Transmission power in watts (Werp).
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)
A further development of the GSM system. The UMTS system provides for a maximum transmission speed of 384 kbps, which is sufficient for transmitting images and sound for a video-conference. However, this rate cannot be attained everywhere, but only in certain designated places, such as railway stations and airports.
Unified Messaging Service (UMS)
A combination of fax, telephone answering machine, SMS, WAP, pager news and e-mail service such that an e-mail can be read out over the telephone or a message on a telephone answering machine converted to text.
Value Added Services
Supplementary services offered by a network operator in addition to the most basic telephone function. These are usually subject to a charge.
Vodafone live!
Vodafone live! is the mobile portal of Swisscom Mobile. With Vodafone live! you can access multimedia services direct from your mobile: sounds and images, games, MMS, e-mail, chat, news, weather and sports. This offer is exclusively for customers of Swisscom Mobile and works best with the new Vodafone live! mobiles, which have been especially configured for this purpose.
Abbreviation for Wireless Application Protocol. The WAP technology is used to connect mobile telephone networks (like Swisscom Mobile's NATEL network) to the Internet.
Wireless Local Area Network WLAN
Enables wireless access to Internet and intranet from the laptop or PDA over a mobile radio connection. The laptop or PDA has to be fitted with a WLAN card with mini-antenna and special WLAN antenna are necessary in the vicinity. WLANs have a range of approx. 100 to 200 metres and transmission rates of up to 2 Mbps. There are several standards for WLAN. These include IEEE 802.11b.
WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network)
This wireless data transmission system enables speeds of 3 to 4 Mbps. WLAN is used primarily in administrative buildings and at exhibitions so as to provide access to an intranet, the Internet and corporate networks. However, WLAN may also be used as a complementary technology to the GPRS/UMTS systems. The WLAN base stations can transmit very large data packets on very busy sites.
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