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Powerline Communications Glossary

Backbone Megabits Per Second (Mbps)



BPL Modem Megahertz (MHz)
Bridge Mesh Network
Broadband Modem

Broadband over Powerline (BPL)

Multi-Room Audio Distribution
Cluster Multi-Room Network
Computer Network PLC
Coupling PLC Technology
Dedicated Wire Powerline Internet
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Powerline Network
Distribution Automation Power Packet


Residential Gateway
Existing Wiring Routers
Fiber Cable Server
Firewall Streaming
Gateway Switches
Gigabit Ethernet Telephony
Home Automation Universal Plug and Play
Home Network Universal Powerline Bus (UPB)
Hotspot VOIP




IEEE 802.11b Wireline
IEEE 802.11g Whole-House Network

Internet Home Gateway

Interoperability ZigBee







Last Mile

Local Area Network (LAN)  

Automated Meter Reading - collection and transmission of meter readings and other data back to and from the Utility Network Operations Center (NOC), using Power Line Communications or other means of communication (see more in Broadband AMR). Top

The top level of a hierarchical communication network; the central connection; the main data lines along which data is transferred. It is the portion of a network that connects servers with others. Smaller networks are attached to the backbone. A backbone can span a geographic area of any size, from a single building to an entire campus - or even an entire country. Top

Unit of measurement that describes the volume of information being sent through a connection. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps). Top

Bluetooth is a technology that allows wireless communication within a range of about 30 feet. Instead of connecting your computer and printer or your PDA and cell phone by wires you bring them into proximity to share, synchronize, or print information. Top

BPL Modem
An analog-to-digital modulation device that uses BPL technology to transmit broadband communication over powerlines. One end plugs into a standard, wall-mounted power outlet socket, and the other to a computer's network interface port. Top

A bridge is a device that connects two similar networks together to increase the distance or number of devices a given type of network can handle. Top

A band of frequencies used to transmit voice, data, or video signals simultaneously. Use of broadband allows more information to be transmitted at the same time. Broadband is like multi-lane highway. Top

Broadband over Powerline (BPL)
A technology that uses wide band frequencies to transmit data over Utility power lines. BPL operates by modulating high-frequency radio waves with the digital signals from the Internet. The radio waves are then fed into the Utility grid at certain points, traveling along the power lines and passing through the Utility transformers to subscribers' homes and businesses. To receive broadband communication services, a subscriber installs a modem that plugs into a standard power outlet socket. In addition, BPL technology is used for broadband AMR, to enable the utilization of multiple Smart Grid applications in parallel. Top

A hardware connection between two or more PCs that forms a closed network or internal network for sharing data and processing tasks among connected PCs. Top

Computer Network
A system that transmits any combination of voice, video and/or data between computers such as an ethernet network. The network includes the network operating system in the client and server machines, the cables connecting them and all supporting hardware in between such as bridges, routers and switches. In wireless systems, antennas and towers are also part of the network. Also see LAN. Top

The desirable or undesirable transfer of energy from one medium (such as, metallic wire) to another medium (such as, fiber optic). Alternatively, the transfer of power from one circuit segment to another. In BPL technology, the term coupling refers to the transfer of communication signals onto a medium-voltage power line without directly connecting to the line, using inductive or capacitive couplers. Top

Dedicated Wire
Wiring that is installed specifically for communications. It includes twisted pair wiring used for Ethernet networks, coax wiring used for cable TV, etc. Top

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
A technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small business over ordinary copper telephone lines. Top

Distribution Automation
a general term referring to a class of technology that lets electric utilities monitor and remotely control their power distribution networks with two-way computer networking and computerized data handling. Top

Coaxial cable used to network computers. The cable carries radio frequency signals between the computers at a rate of 10 megabits per second. Faster versions of Ethernet are becoming more widely available. Top

Existing Wiring
Existing wiring includes telephone wires, coax cabling and power line wiring already in most homes today. Top

Fiber Cable
A generic term used for both plastic and glass fiber optic cables.There are numerous types of fiber cables with varying characteristics.Fiber optic cabling is used for high-speed communications in many areas w/ very high-speed communications requirements. Top

A firewall is a set of related programs located at a network gateway server that protects the resources of a private network from users from other networks. (The term also implies the security policy that is used with the programs.) Top

In a communications network, a network node used for interfacing with another network that uses different protocols. A gateway may contain devices such as protocol translators, impedance matching devices, rate converters, fault isolators, or signal translators, as necessary to provide system interoperability. In addition, a gateway requires the establishment of mutually-acceptable administrative procedures between the two networks. Top

Gigabit Ethernet
This is a new home networking standard for transmitting 1 Gigabit/second data a total distance of 100 meters using CAT 5 twisted pair cable.In contrast to 10BaseT uses all four pairs each operating at 250 Mbps to achieve its high speed. Top

Home Automation
Systems that provide convenient, centralized access, usually via keypad or PC, to various controls and appliances within a home. Home automation systems allow for the remote control of such thinks as: lightning, thermostats, locks, pet care, pools andspas, lawn watering, blinds and curtains, multi-media (A/V) systems, etc. Top

An area in which an access point provides public wireless broadband network services to users, through a wireless LAN or Wi-Fi. Top

Home Network
A home network interconnects electronic products/systems,enabling remote access to and control of those products/systems, and any available content such as music, video or data. Top

a home networking standard for an emerging market that allows people to connect their electronic devices together, so they can share Internet access, play video games, and enjoy music throughout the house. Top

device used to connects multiple computers. Top

IEEE 802.11b
Most commonly know as "WiFi," 802.11b is a wireless local-area networking standard. Many PC and networked home entertainment devices use 802.11b, which is capable of speeds up to 10Mbps. Top

IEEE 802.11g
Offering speeds up to 54 Mbps, 802.11g is a wireless local-area networking standard that is also backward-compatible with 802.11b devices. Top

The ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer. Top

Internet Home Gateway
acts as a router to direct the flow of digital signals throughout a building. Top

Abbreviation for Internet Service Provider. Internet service can be provided through the phone line, cable and power line. Top

The speed of data transmission measured as the number of thousands of data bits per second. Top

Short for Local Area Network. LANs connect computers in a home, office or building. Each computer in a LAN can run its own programs, as well as access data on other computers on the LAN. The computers can also share printer and allow users on the LAN to communicate with each other, by sending e-mail or engaging in chat sessions. Top

Last Mile
A term used for any telecommunications technology that carries signals along the short distance between the main public telecommunications network, and the home or business premises (i.e., the infrastructure at the neighborhood level, or local loop). The actual distance of the "Last Mile" can vary.Top

Local Area Network (LAN)
A network of personal computers and peripheral devices configured to share information over a short distance, usually within one home or building. Top

The speed of data transmission measured as the number of millions of data bits per second. Top

An interface for remote-readable electricity meters. Top

Megabits Per Second (Mbps)
Mbps stands for millions of bits per second of megabits per second and it a measure of bandwidth (the total information flow over a given time) on a telecommunications medium. Top

As a measure of computer processor storage and real virtual memory, a megabyte (abbreviated MB) is 2 to the 20th power byte, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation. Top

Megahertz (MHz)
MHz is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one million hertz (1,000,000 Hz) and is commonly used to express microprocessor clock speed.The unit is occasionally used in measurements or statements of bandwidth Top

Mesh Network
A network configuration where data is routed between nodes (devices) on the network. This node-to-node connection offers improved reliability and expanded range compared to other network configurations. Top

Short for modulate/demodulate, a modem modulates outgoing digital signals from a computer or other digital device to analog signals for a conventional copper twisted pair telephone line and demodulates the incoming analog signal and coverts it to adigital signal for the digital device. Top

Multi-Room Audio Distribution
Multi-room audio refers to any audio system that can distribute sound to speakers in multiple listening areas. In its most basic form, a multi-room audio setup contains a source component, like a CD player, an amplifier, like a home theater receiver, andis connected to speakers in at least two different rooms. Top

Multi-Room Network
Multi-room networks can be built by connecting two cluster networks together or by extending a single cluster into a second room. Top

abbreviaton for Powerline Communications. Top

PLC Technology
The transmission of information using the existing power line as the method of transmission without running new wires. Top

Powerline Internet
using the powerlines to bring the Internet to your home or office from an Internet Service Provider. Top

Powerline Network
Powerline networks transmit data (phone calls and faxes as well as e-mail and Web pages) over regular electrical wiring, transforming every electrical outlet in the immediate area into a network connection. Wires and sockets are used simultaneously for electricity and data, without disrupting each other. Top

Power Packet
PowerPacket technology uses the same powerline that provides electricity to your computer to network it to other computers in your home or in an office. PowerPacket uses a process called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) to handle high speed data transmission between computers. OFDM detects changes within the powerline and maintains network communication even during power fluctutations.

Residential Gateway
A device that connects your home to the Internet via an Internet service provider. Top

devices which allows you to share one internet connection among multiple computers. Top

a computer program that provides services to other computer programs or other computers. Top

Streaming video is a sequence of "moving images" that are sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer as they arrive. Streaming media is streaming video with sound. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or hearing the sound. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, which is a special program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. Top

a central device that connects PCs at higher speeds than a hub. Top

The use of the internet for phone calls and faxing. Three new services are now or will soon be available:

  • normal voice phone calls where the phone rings at the location of the person called through the Internet at the price of a local call
  • sending faxes at very low cost through a gateway point on the Internet in major cities
  • sending voice messages along with text e-mail Top

Universal Plug and Play
an initiative to simplify the interconnection of PCs, appliances, networks and services by extending plug and play to include networking.Top

Universal Powerline Bus (UPB)
A proprietary networking standard developed by Powerline Control Systems, Inc. that enables remote control of devices such as lighting, HVAC and appliances using a home's existing powerline (line voltage) wiring rather than dedicated structured wiring. Top

Short for Voice over IP. This refers to any technology offering voice telephony services over the internet.Top

Short for Wide area network. This refers to a communication network that uses:

  • telephone lines
  • satellite dishes
  • radio waves

to span a larger geographic area then can be covered by a local area network (LAN).Top

Wireless Fidelity - a form of short-range (up to 0.1 kilometers) wireless networking, supporting download rates of up to 54Mbps. This technology enables the connection of two or more computers, without the necessity for physical cabling between them. Wi-Fi is used in many community wireless networks and in the provision of wireless 'hotspots' set up in hotels, coffee shops, airports, etc. Wi-Fi may also be used to create a wireless network in the home or office. Top

A term used to describe telecommunications systems, where a service is provided over some form of cabled or wired network (e.g. copper, fiber optic) as opposed to a wireless or radio network. Top

Whole-House Network
A whole-house network involves multiple types of cluster networks connected to each other through devices called gateways. This type of network is the most complex but it also provides the most functionality.

a communications “language” that allows you to control lights, appliances and other equipment in your house via the existing electrical wiring in your house. No rewiring is necessary. Top

A relatively new wireless home networking standard that allows compatible devices to share small packets of data, such as on/off commands or temperature readings, for example. Similar to other mesh networks, which use device-to-device communication tomultiple, redundant paths for data to flow, ZigBee's conservative range is estimated to reach over 300 feet. Considering its extremely low-power requirements, ZigBee-enabled devices will likely include household appliances, consumer electronics products,light switches, security sensors and controls, key fobs, smoke detectors and thermostats, to name just a few possibilities.Top

A proprietary, low-power networking standard developed by Zensys Inc., which uses a mesh network to transmit control and sensor data among compatible devices. Like ZigBee, Zwave technology is ultra-low power and can be used in appliances, home automationdevices, switches, thermostats, etc. Top


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