Mobile Glossary


1G is the first generation of wireless telephone technology, allowing the use of mobile phones. The first commercial 1G network was launched in 1979 in Japan. 1G networks use analogue radio signals and facilitate a download speed of 2.9 KB/s to 5.6 KB/s.


2G is the second generation of wireless telephone technology, differing from the first mainly in that phone conversations are digitally encrypted instead of analogue, making it far more efficient.


3G is the third generation of wireless telephone technology with increased bandwidth and higher transfer rates. This allows better use of Internet, video-calls, mobile TV and other applications on mobile phones.


Third Generation Partnership Project. A cooperation between regional standards bodies to ensure global interworking for 3G systems.


4G is the fourth generation of wireless telephony technology and a major step of the mobile network evolution. 4G networks have higher capacities, making the mobile experience even better for smartphone users with the increasing usage of Internet on one’s mobile. Different 4G systems offer download speeds up to 300 Mbps = massively quicker than its predecessors!


5G is the next step of the mobile network evolution. 5G planning aims at higher capacity than current 4G, allowing a higher density of mobile broadband users, and supporting device-to-device, ultra reliable, and massive machine communications. 5G research and development also aims at lower latency than 4G equipment and lower battery consumption, for better implementation of the Internet of things.


Access Point

A stationary device that acts as a base station for wireless LAN users. Unlike a network interface card that connects to a mobile device, the access point connects directly to a wired network.


Airtime is a technical term for the time spent talking on a mobile phone.


Android is a smartphone operating system owned by Google. Many different handset developers (HTC, Samsung, etc.) use the Android OS on their devices.


An Access Point Name (APN) is the name of a gateway between a GSM, GPRS, 3G or 4G mobile network and another computer network, frequently the public Internet. A mobile device making a data connection must be configured with an APN to present to the carrier. The carrier will then examine this identifier to determine what type of network connection should be created, for example: which IP addresses should be assigned to the wireless device, which security methods should be used, and how or if, it should be connected to some private customer network.


Applications are software or programmes for mobile phones. Users can download apps on their smartphone (e.g. Angry Birds, Dictionary, Weather Forecast) and businesses can develop and publish apps to build a connection with the mobile audience. The different OS’s have different app stores where apps can be downloaded.

Apple App Store

The place where iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users can download apps, free and paid. It was the first of its kind to be launched with the second generation of the iPhone in 2008 as an extension to iTunes. It sparked an entirely new lucrative industry – the app industry.



Bandwidth refers to data-rate or data transfer speed – how fast download a network allows. It is commonly measured in bits per second (bps). Kbps = 1000 bits, Mbps = 1 million bits, Gbps = 1 billion bits. See 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G for the development of wireless data transfer speeds.


The bit (a portmanteau of binary digit) is a basic unit of information used in computing and digital communications. A binary digit can have only one of two values, and may be physically represented with a two-state device. These state values are most commonly represented as either a 0or1.


The speed at which bits are transmitted over the physical layer, also called signalling rate. This is quite different than throughput, which is an end measure of a network’s speed.


Blackberry is a mobile brand developed by RIM (Research-in-Motion). Their phones are typically recognized by their QWERTY keyboard and are renowned for their emphasis on security and business solutions.

Blackberry App World

Blackberry App World is Blackberry’s app store, where applications for Blackberry devices can be downloaded. It was launched in April 2008 and of the three major app providers (Apple and Android) it has the largest revenue per app.


Bluetooth is a short-range communication protocol that enables mobile devices (with Bluetooth capability) to send and receive information wirelessly to nearby devices using the 2.4 GHz spectrum band. This typically includes wireless headsets or data-transfer to another mobile phone.


The Byte is a unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer and for this reason it is the smallest addressable unit of memory in many computer architectures. The size of the byte has historically been hardware dependent and no definitive standards existed that mandated the size – byte-sizes from 1to 48 bits are known to have been used in the past. The modern de-facto standard of eight bits, as documented in ISO/IEC 2382-1:1993, is a convenient power of two permitting the values 0 through 255 for one byte. The international standard IEC 80000-13 codified this common meaning. Many types of applications use information representable in eight or fewer bits and processor designers optimize for this common usage. The popularity of major commercial computing architectures has aided in the ubiquitous acceptance of the eight-bit size.



A company, also known as service provider, that provides mobile phone users with services and subscriptions to mobile phone networks.


CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is a type of technique, allowed with the introduction of 2G networks, for multiplexing digital transmission of radio signals in which each voice or data call uses the whole radio band, and is assigned a unique code.


The basic geographic unit of a cellular system and the basis for the generic industry term “cellular.” A city is divided into small “cells”, each of which is equipped with a low-powered radio transmitter/receiver or base station. The cells can vary in size depending on terrain and capacity demands.

Cloud Services

Cloud Services or computing is an information technology (IT) paradigm, a model for enabling ubiquitous access to shared pools of configurable resources (such as computer networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet. Cloud computing allows users and enterprises with various computing capabilities to store and process data either in a privately-owned cloud, or on a third-party server located in a data center – thus making data-accessing mechanisms more efficient and reliable.[3][need quotation to verify] Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economy of scale, s


The capability to provide, to end-users, connections to the internet or other communication networks.


Refers to the range of a mobile cellular network, measured in terms of geographic coverage (the percentage of the territorial area covered by mobile cellular) or population coverage (the percentage of the population within range of a mobile cellular network).


Data roaming

see roaming, but limited to data services.

Data SIM card

A SIM card with data only services but no voice services. However a data SIM card can usually be used for VoIP Services.


Digital Rights Management: Manages the use of copyright-protected data such as music, graphics, videos etc. For example, DRM can prohibit you sending a downloaded media file to other media such as CD, DVD, or even PC.

Dual Mode

Dual mode phones are phones that support more than one technology. Typically, this is either CDMA and AMPS or TDMA and AMPS, but other dual mode phones are starting to appear on the market, such as GSM and TDMA.

Dual SIM

This specifies whether a device is capable of supporting two SIM cards. The two major types of dual-SIM phones are active and standby. Dual-SIM Standby (DSS) requires the user to specify which of the two SIMs is able to make and receive calls, while Dual-SIM Active (DSA) enables both cards to receive calls at the same time. This latter feature usually requires an additional transceiver for the secondary SIM card, and as such consumes more battery life. More recent models feature Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) technology which enables them to have two active SIMs with only one transceiver.


Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld: A European standard specifically for the broadcasting of television content to hand-held devices based on DVB-T. As of 2007, live trial runs of DVB-H have started in many European countries, as well as other countries around the world.



EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) is the final stage of the evolution of the GSM standard, bringing 2G closer to 3G capacity for data transfer (faster download). EDGE was launched on GSM networks for the first time in the US in 2003 with a typical speed of 384 KB/s.


The process of converting plain text into code to secure information from being read by unauthorized persons or those without special computing knowledge.


Standard wired LAN protocol. Includes physical and link layers.


Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a mobile app that enables chat, voice and video communications between the social media site’s web-based messaging and smartphones. (Specific capabilities vary according to the user’s device and geographic location.) Messenger is available for iOS, Android, Windows 10 and Blackberry devices and can connect through Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan.


FaceTime is a proprietary videotelephony product developed by Apple Inc. FaceTime Audio is an audio-only version.


Fairphone is a smartphone designed with ecological and ethical issues foremost in mind. Insofar as possible, Fairphone is made from recycled, recyclable and responsibly-sourced goods as well as minimal packaging. The modular design means that if one component breaks down or the user wants to update it, only that element need be replaced.

Feature Phones

Feature Phones are low-end mobile device that don’t have the computing power of a smartphone.

Flight Mode

Flight Mode is a setting for mobile phones and other portable devices that switches off all wireless activity.


Measured in Megahertz (MHz), frequency refers to the number of times per second at which an electromagnetic wave oscillates.

Frequency band

A portion of the radio spectrum delimited for a particular use. For example, most wireless LANs currently use the 2.4 to 2.48 GHz band, although 5 GHz band products are on the way. A frequency band is usually divided in two channels.



The gigabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix giga means 109 in the International System of Units (SI). Therefore, one gigabyte is 1000000000bytes. The unit symbol for the gigabyte is GB.


Gigabits per second: 1 Gbps = 1024 Mbps. Gbps measures data transmission over a carrier.


Geolocation is the wireless detection of the physical location of a remote device. As a noun, geolocation refers to the physical location itself; as a verb, the term refers to the process of detecting that location.


Gigahertz (1,000,000,000Hz).


The GPS (Global Positioning System) is a “constellation” of approximately 30 well-spaced satellites that orbit the Earth and make it possible for people with ground receivers to pinpoint their geographic location. The location accuracy is anywhere from 100 to 10 meters for most equipment. Accuracy can be pinpointed to within one (1) meter with special military-approved equipment. GPS equipment is widely used in science and has now become sufficiently low-cost so that almost anyone can own a GPS receiver.

Google Play

Google Play (formerly Android Market) is Google’s app store for Android mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).


GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a packet-switching technology that enables high-speed data transmission of up to 115 KB/s. It is an enhancement for GSM, often described as 2.5G.


Global Positioning System is a direct connection to satellites that determines the exact geographical position of a receiver. Satnavs use GPS connection but many smartphones today also have a built-in GPS system. This allows the user to use their smartphone as a satnav.


GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communications) is a digital mobile cellular standard developed and widely used in Europe. It is one of the main 2G digital wireless standards.


The GSM Association (commonly referred to as ‘the GSMA’) is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members. The GSMA represents its members via industry programmes, working groups and industry advocacy initiatives. It also organises the mobile industry’s largest annual exhibition and conference, the Mobile World Congress, and several other events.



A handset is a term used in reference to a mobile phone or a mobile device.

Hashtag #

A hashtag is a tag used to categorize posts on Twitter (tweets) according to topics. To add a hashtag to a tweet, you just preface the relevant term with the hash symbol (#). That will allow people who follow that topic to find your tweet and perhaps follow you as well.


Headsets are headphones combined with a microphone, providing the ability to talk handsfree.

Home Location Register (HLR)

The Home Location Register (HLR) is the main database of permanent subscriber information for a mobile network. The HLR is an integral component of CDMA (code division multiple access), TDMA (time division multiple access), and GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) networks. Maintained by the subscriber’s home carrier (or the network operator where the user initiated the call), the HLR contains pertinent user information, including address, account status, and preferences. The HLR interacts with the Mobile Switching Centre (MSC), which is a switch used for call control and processing. The MSC also serves as a point-of-access to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN – the fixed network). The third integral element is the Visiting Location Register (VLR), which maintains temporary user information (such as current location) to manage requests from subscribers who are out of the area covered by their home system.


For users of portable computers equipped for wireless, a hot spot (or hotspot) is a wireless LAN (local area network) node that provides Internet connection and virtual private network (VPN) access from a given location. For example, a business traveller with a laptop equipped for Wi-Fi can look up a local hot spot, contact it, and get connected through its network to reach the Internet and their own company remotely with a secure connection. Increasingly, public places, such as airports, hotels, and coffee shops are providing free wireless access for customers.


High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is an enhanced 3G (third-generation) mobile communications protocol in the High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) family, also dubbed 3.5G, 3G+, or Turbo 3G, which allows networks based on Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) to have higher data speeds and capacity. HSDPA has been introduced with 3GPP Release 5, which also accompanies an improvement on the uplink providing a new bearer of 384 kbit/s. The previous maximum bearer was 128 kbit/s. As well as improving data rates, HSDPA also decreases latency and so the round trip time for applications. HSPA+ introduced in 3GPP Release 7 further increases data rates by adding 64QAM modulation, MIMO and Dual-Cell HSDPA operation, i.e. two 5 MHz carriers are used simultaneously. Even higher speeds of up to 337.5 Mbit/s are possible with Release 11 of the 3GPP standards.


High-Speed Downlink Packet Access: An upgrade for UMTS networks that doubles network capacity and increases download data speeds by five times or more. The service was initially deployed at 1.8 Mbps but upgrades to the networks and new user devices led to increased rates of 3.6 Mbps, followed by 7.2 Mbps and further down the road, 14.4Mbps and even 21Mbps. HSDPA only handles the downlink while the uplink is handled by a related technology called HSUPA. The combination of both technologies is usually called HSPA.


High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) is an amalgamation of two mobile protocols, High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), that extends and improves the performance of existing 3G mobile telecommunication networks using the WCDMA protocols. A further improved 3GPP standard, Evolved High Speed Packet Access (also known as HSPA+), was released late in 2008 with subsequent worldwide adoption beginning in 2010. The newer standard allows bit-rates to reach as high as 337 Mbit/s in the downlink and 34 Mbit/s in the uplink. However, these speeds are rarely achieved in practice


High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) is a 3G mobile telephony protocol in the HSPA family. This technology was the second major step in the UMTS evolution process. It was specified and standardized in 3GPP Release 6 to improve the uplink data rate to 5.76 Mbit/s, extending the capacity, and reducing latency. Together with additional improvements which are detailed below this creates opportunities for a number of new applications including VoIP, uploading pictures and sending large e-mail messages.


Hypertext Mark-up Language: A standard mark-up language used to create web pages. It was designed with desktop computers in mind and web pages may have reduced usability when viewed on devices with smaller screens and limited input options (as is the case with most mobile phones). There is a newer format called XHTML that is better suited for mobile device.


Hertz. The frequency measurement unit equal to one cycle per second.



An in-app purchase (IAP) is something bought from within an application, typically a mobile app running on a smartphone or other mobile device.


Each SIM is internationally identified by its integrated circuit card identifier (ICCID). ICCIDs are stored in the SIM cards and are also engraved or printed on the SIM card body during a process called personalisation. The ICCID is defined by the ITU-T recommendation E.118 as the Primary Account Number. Its layout is based on ISO/IEC 7812. According to E.118, the number is up to 22 digits long. However, the GSM Phase 1 defined the ICCID length as 10 octets (20 digits) with operator-specific structure.


Instant Messaging. It refers to programs such as AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ that allow users to exchange messages with other users over the internet with a maximum delay of one or two seconds at peak times.


IMAP is one of the most popular email formats currently in use, it stands for stands for ‘Internet Message Access Protocol’.


IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a 15- or 17-digit code that uniquely identifies mobile phone sets. The IMEI code can enable a GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) network to prevent a misplaced or stolen phone from initiating calls. In most mobile communications devices, the IMEI appears on the display when the user enters the character sequence *#06# (star-pound-zero-six-pound) into the keypad. The IMEI code may also be printed inside the battery compartment. When a phone set is lost or stolen, the owner can call the CEIR (Central Equipment Identity Register) and blacklist the device according to its IMEI number. After that action, the set will in most cases become useless, even if someone swaps out the unit’s SIM card (subscriber identity module). However, although it is not an easy task, a skilled and determined cracker can sometimes change the IMEI number and use a stolen set to place calls. Immediately after purchasing a mobile communications device, the owner should record the IMEI code in a secure place so that it can be quickly accessed in the event of loss or theft.


The International Mobile Subscriber Identity or IMSI is used to identify the user of a cellular network and is a unique identification associated with all cellular networks. It is stored as a 64 bit field and is sent by the phone to the network. It is also used for acquiring other details of the mobile in the home location register (HLR) or as locally copied in the visitor location register. To prevent eavesdroppers identifying and tracking the subscriber on the radio interface, the IMSI is sent as rarely as possible and a randomly generated TMSI is sent instead. The IMSI is used in any mobile network that interconnects with other networks. For GSM, UMTS and LTE network, this number is provisioned in the SIM card and for CDMA2000 in the phone directly or in the R-UIM card (the CDMA2000 analogue to a SIM card for GSM). An IMSI is usually presented as a 15 digit number, but can be shorter (not longer). For example, MTN South Africa’s old IMSIs that are still being used in the market are shown as 14 digits. The first 3 digits are the mobile country code (MCC), which are followed by the mobile network code (MNC), either 2 digits (European standard) or 3 digits (North American standard). The length of the MNC depends on the value of the MCC, and it is recommended that the length is uniform within a MCC area. The remaining digits are the mobile subscription identification number (MSIN) within the network’s customer base (mostly 10 or 9 digits depending on the MNC length).


The combination of information on current event and entertainment content or of their formats.

International roaming

International mobile roaming is a service that allows mobile users to continue to use their mobile phone or other mobile device to make and receive voice calls and text messages, browse the internet, and send and receive emails, while visiting another country.


Interconnected global networks that use the internet protocol (see IP).


iOS is Apple’s operating system native to all of Apple’s mobile devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch).


IP stands for Internet Protocol and is the principal communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet.

IP Telephony

internet protocol telephony. IP telephony is used as a generic term for the conveyance of voice, fax and related services, partially or wholly over packet-based, IP-based networks. See also VoIP and Voice over broadband.


The generic term describes a system where a digital television service is delivered using the Internet Protocol over a network infrastructure.


Internet protocol version 4. The version of IP in common use today.


Internet protocol version 6. The emerging standard, which aims to rectify some of the problems seen with IPv4, in particular the shortage of address space.



Java 2 Microedition, a technology developed by Sun MicroSystems.


Jailbreaking, in a mobile device context, is the use of an exploit to remove manufacturer or carrier restrictions from a device such as an iPhone or iPad. The exploit usually involves running a privilege escalation attack on a user’s device to replace the manufacturer’s factory-installed operating system with a custom kernel.


An object-oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Programmes authored in Java do not rely on an operating system, as long as Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is installed on the device on which they are running.



The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The International System of Units (SI) defines the prefix kilo as 1000 (103); therefore one kilobyte is 1000 bytes. The unit symbol for the kilobyte is kB. In information technology, particularly in reference to main memory capacity, kilobyte is traditionally used to denote 1024 (210) bytes. This arises from the powers-of-two sizing common to such memory in digital circuitry. In this context, the symbols K and KB are often used when 1024 bytes is meant.


Kilobits per second: A unit of data transfer rate equal to 1024 bits per second.



Local area network. A computer network that 13 spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings. However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. A system of LANs connected in this way is called a wide-area network (WAN).

Location-Based Services (LBS)

A term that refers to a wide range of services based (or enhanced by) information about the physical location of a user and/or device. Typical examples of location-based services for consumers are real-time turn-by-turn navigation, the location of the nearest restaurant or hotel, vehicle tracking etc. For a location-based service to work there are some requirements to be fulfilled. The network must support it, and certain technologies must be built into the mobile phone (such as GPS and A-GPS).


Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile devices and data terminals, based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies. It increases the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements. The standard is developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and is specified in its Release 8 document series, with minor enhancements described in Release 9. LTE is the upgrade path for carriers with both GSM/UMTS networks and CDMA2000 networks. The different LTE frequencies and bands used in different countries mean that only multi-band phones are able to use LTE in all countries where it is supported.

LTE Advanced

LTE Advanced is a mobile communication standard and a major enhancement of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard. It was formally submitted as a candidate 4G system to ITU-T in late 2009 as meeting the requirements of the IMT-Advanced standard, and was standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in March 2011 as 3GPP Release 10



Machine to machine (M2M) is a broad label that can be used to describe any technology that enables networked devices to exchange information and perform actions without the manual assistance of humans.


The megabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. Its recommended unit symbol is MB. The unit prefix mega is a multiplier of 1000000 (106) in the International System of Units (SI). Therefore, one megabyte is one million bytes of information. This definition has been incorporated into the International System of Quantities.


Megabit per second: A unit of data transfer rate equal to 1,048,576 bits per second or 1,024 kilobits per second.

Micro USB

Micro USB is a miniaturized version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface developed for connecting compact and mobile devices such as smartphones, MP3 players, GPS devices, photo printers and digital cameras.


Small payments that are typically aggregated by an m-wallet provider or other payment processor.


MicroSD is a type of removable flash memory card often used in mobile phones.


MiFi is a portable broadband device that allows multiple end users and mobile devices to share a 3G or 4G mobile broadband Internet connection and create an ad-hoc network. Although MiFi’s are manufactured by Novatel, the name is often used as a generic label for any device capable of becoming a personal hotspot or pocket router. Although some smartphones have the capability to be used as hotspots, they do not have the management capabilities that MiFi offers to control data consumption on connected devices. Additionally, because the phone is not a dedicated device like MiFi, the phone’s owner must turn the hotspot feature on whenever sharing is desired — and during that time, the phone itself cannot behave as a Wi-Fi client. On some phones, taking a voice call disrupts 3G/4G data flow, suspending personal mobile hotspot service for other Wi-Fi devices using it at that time. The name MiFi is thought to stand for “my WiFi.” Some 3G/4G carriers sell MiFi’s (or similar devices) with pay-as-you-go plans, while others require a monthly fee or annual contract.


MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is a standard for telephony messaging systems that enable the sending of messages that include multimedia objects (images, audio, video, rich text). It may or may not include normal text.


Mobile Network Operator. An operator of a wireless network for mobile phones.

Mobile App

A mobile app is a software application developed specifically for use on small, wireless computing devices, such as smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop or laptop computers.

Mobile Broadband

Wireless high-speed internet access through a portable modem, telephone or other device.

Mobile carriers

See carriers.

Mobile Data

refers to an internet access over a mobile network.

Mobile Hotspot

A mobile hotspot is an ad hoc wireless access point that is created by a dedicated hardware device or a smartphone feature that shares the phone’s cellular data. Mobile hotspots are also known as portable hotspots. The hardware devices used to create them, officially known as pocket or travel routers, are sometimes referred to as mobile hotspots as well. They are also often generically known as MiFi’s, although that name is owned by Novatel in the United States and many other countries.

Mobile Message

SMS and/or MMS message sent to a handset.

Mobile Network Operators

See carriers.

Mobile Web

The Mobile Web is a channel for delivery of web content, which adapts the content to a mobile context. The mobile context is characterised by different things such as mobile constraints (screen size, keyboard input) and special capabilities (location, connection type such as 3G or WiFi).


MPEG Layer 3: An audio storage protocol that stores music in a compressed format with very little loss in sound quality. MP3 is the most common MPEG format for audio files. MP3 files can be played using the music player of the mobile phone or set as a ringtone.

Music Player

A mobile phone application that allows you to listen to music files stored in the phone’s internal or external memory.


Mobile Virtual Network Operator. A company that, to end-users, appears to be a wireless network operator. Unlike a standard wireless carrier, however, an MVNO does not own the Base Station Subsystem (BSS) that Mobile Network Operators (MNO) do. MVNOs also may not necessarily own other infrastructure one normally associates with an MNO, such as MSCs, and Home Location Registers (HLRs). More importantly, MVNOs do not hold licenses to radio spectrum; instead they purchase network capacity from wireless carriers that do hold licenses and which do operate the network infrastructure necessary for wireless phone communication.


Network Operator

See carriers.

NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance. NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. It allows users to seamlessly share content between digital devices, pay bills wirelessly or even use their cell phone as an electronic traveling ticket on existing contactless infrastructure already in use for public transportation. The significant advantage of NFC over Bluetooth is the shorter set-up time. Instead of performing manual configurations to identify Bluetooth devices, the connection between two NFC devices is established at once (under a 1/10 second). Due to its shorter range, NFC provides a higher degree of security than Bluetooth and makes NFC suitable for crowded areas where correlating a signal with its transmitting physical device (and by extension, its user) might otherwise prove impossible. NFC can also work when one of the devices is not powered by a battery (e.g. on a phone that may be turned off, a contactless smart credit card, etc.).

Number Portability

The ability for a wireless subscriber to retain their mobile phone number when they switch mobile carriers.



OS stands for Operating System and is the software that runs a mobile device. Apple’s iPhone runs on its native iOS, Android phones use a different OS, and Blackberry still another.

Over The Air (OTA)

Over The Air (OTA) (or Over-The-Air) is a standard for the transmission and reception of application-related information in a wireless communications system. The standard is supported by Nokia, SmartTrust, and others.

Over-The-Top (OTT)

Over-The-Top (OTT) is where a telecommunications service provider delivers one or more services across an IP network. The IP networks is predominantly the public internet although sometimes telco-run cloud services delivered via a corporation’s existing IP-VPN from another provider, as opposed to the carrier’s own access network. It embraces a variety of telco services including communications (e.g. voice and messaging), content (e.g. TV and music) and cloud-based (e.g. compute and storage) offerings.


Packet Data

Packet Data – small pieces called packets. This allows users to consume a network’s resources only when they are actually transferring data. In mobile phones, data is used for functions requiring Internet access (including video or audio streaming). Generally all technologies for wireless data transfer used by operators (except WAP) rely on packet data – GPRS, EDGE, UMTS.


A phablet is a computing device with a screen size between four-and-a-half and seven inches, measured diagonally. As the name implies, the device is essentially a tablet that also functions as a phone. However, the smaller size makes it easier for users to carry them around in pockets or small bags, as is customary with smartphones but less common with tablets.

PIN Code

Personal Identification Number: In mobile devices, the PIN acts like a password preventing other people from gaining unauthorized access to your device. This is a numeric code which must be entered each time the device is started (unless the PIN security feature is turned off). In GSM mobile phones, the PIN is normally associated with the SIM card (not the phone) and must be entered each time the phone is switched on. If a wrong PIN is entered three times in a row the handset is locked until you enter another code, called a PUK code. Both the PIN and the PUK codes are supplied by the operator, but only the PIN code can be changed by the user.


A prepay tariff is where a customer pays monthly and isn’t tied into a contractual agreement with the network.


A general term referring to technologies which allow a central system (such as the network) to “push” (send) information spontaneously and quickly to a user without any action on the part of the user or the mobile device. A very common “push” technology is email. “Push” emails are directly “pushed” to the mobile device as soon as the email server receives them and it is not necessary for either the user or the device to manually or automatically check for new emails at regular intervals.


A personal unblocking code (PUC), also known as a personal unlocking key (PUK), is used in 3GPP mobile phones to reset a personal identification number (PIN) that has been lost or forgotten. Most mobile phones offer the feature of PIN protection. After switching on the phone, if the PIN security function is active, the user is required to enter a 4-8 digit PIN to enable the phone’s non-emergency calling functions. If the wrong PIN is entered more than three times, either the SIM card, the device, or both become locked. They can be returned to their original unlocked state by entering a PUC provided by the service provider, after verification. If the wrong PUC is entered ten times in a row, the device will become permanently blocked and unrecoverable, requiring a new SIM card. Mobile phone users are therefore advised by most providers to keep their PUC written down in a safe place separate from the device. After the PUC code is entered, the PIN must be reset. The PUC are used to unlock the PIN codes if the SIM card is blocked.



Quality of Service. A measure of how reliable a carrier’s service is. Usually expressed in terms of availability and measured, as how often available, by .99999 or five nines, which is the top level of reliability.


Q-SIM is the SIM card coming from Qynamic coming with attractive offerings for worldwide mobile internet. For details see


Q-TopUp allows Qynamic customers to buy additional data packages. For details see


Q-Travel is an offer from Qynamic addressing the needs for people on the move internationally. For details see


Refers to a mobile phone that supports the four major GSM frequency bands (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), making it compatible with all the major GSM networks in the world. The 850/1900 MHz bands are mainly used in the US, while the 900/1800 MHz ones are available in most other countries worldwide.



Random-Access Memory: This is the memory where the software resides while it is running along with the data it is using. RAM is used by both OS and application software. RAM is very fast but volatile, meaning that all information is lost when electric power is cut off. That makes it useful for temporary storage of data that requires fast access. Normally, devices with RAM also have another type of storage memory (flash memory or a hard drive) that stores the information while the power is off. Devices with more RAM can run more complex software and multiple applications at the same time.


Radio frequency identification. A system of radio tagging that provides identification data for goods in order to make them traceable. Typically used by manufacturers to make goods such as clothing items traceable without having to read bar code data for individual items.


Refers to using a mobile phone outside of your service provider’s coverage area. Typically, service providers charge higher fees for calls, messages and access to the Internet.


Read-Only Memory: A form of data storage. This type of memory keeps the saved data even if the device power is off. The data on the ROM can be loaded into the RAM if needed. The word Read-Only identifies it as “read-only memory”, since the reprogramming process is generally infrequent, comparatively slow, and often does not permit random access writes to individual memory locations.



A selfie is a self-portrait, typically a photograph, that is posted online. The most common places for selfies are blogs, social networking sites, such as Facebook, and photo-sharing websites, such as Instagram.


Subscriber Identity Module.

SIM card

A SIM card, also known as a subscriber identity module, is a smart card that stores data for GSM cellular telephone subscribers. Such data includes user identity, location and phone number, network authorization data, personal security keys, contact lists and stored text messages. Security features include authentication and encryption to protect data and prevent eavesdropping.

SIM look

GSM phones can be “locked”, that is made to accept only SIM cards belonging to a specific network. Typically, this is done so that phones will work only on the network of the carrier. SIM-locked phones are usually locked to a carrier when the carrier sells the device at a subsidized price in order to attract new subscribers to its services. Some carriers offer a SIM unlock option to their subscribers after a certain amount of time has passed. Unlocking the phone can be done by entering a special code which is generated based on the phone’s unique IMEI number. Some third-party shops offer unauthorized unlocking of SIM-locked phones, but using their services usually voids the official warranty of the phone.

SIM Toolkit (STK)

A standard for value added wireless services that allows the end-user to establish an interactive exchange with network applications.


A single-band phone is one that operates on one frequency only. This makes the phone unable to operate in areas where the service providers do not support its frequency.


Siri is Apple’s voice-recognition service for iOS devices.


Refers to the unauthorized capture by an intruder of electronic information contained in a chip or tag, such as a passport chip.


Skype is a telecommunications application software product that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches via the Internet and to regular telephones. Skype additionally provides instant messaging services. Users may transmit both text and video messages, and may exchange digital documents such as images, text, and video. Skype allows video conference calls.


The smartphone is the new generation of mobile phones optimised for using mobile Internet and applications. It typically has touch-screen features and gives you the possibility to surf the Internet and download games/applications. Very much like a mini-computer!


A smartphone is a term used to describe a category of mobile devices with computer-like functionality. These devices sport complete operating system and have a platform for application developers. Currently, the two major smartphone platforms in use are Android (by Google) and iOS (by Apple). An application written for a specific platform can usually work on any smartphone using the same platform. Applications for smartphones are also faster and better integrated with the phone’s UI than Java applications. Smartphones have larger displays and faster processors than so-called feature phones or dumb phones.


SMS (Short Message Service) is a messaging system that allows sending messages between mobile devices that consist of short messages, normally with text only content.


The radio frequency spectrum of Hertzian waves used as a transmission medium for cellular radio, radiopaging, satellite communication, over-the-air broadcasting and their services.

Speed dial

A feature present on all mobile phones that allows the user to program a button from the alphanumeric keypad to automatically dial a custom phone number upon a longer press.


An Internet derived expression for the one-way transmission of video and audio content. When streaming video, the video is not downloaded onto your device, but it is viewed directly online via your device (still using of your data allowance).

Streaming video

Streaming video is a feature that allows real-time viewing of web video on a mobile device. This allows users to enjoy a video without downloading it prior to watching.


Product or services initiated by a mobile subscriber to receive content on an ongoing basis, typically with periodic bill due to payment. It is not a one-time usage service.


Symbian is a OS used on smartphones, particularly the older generation of smartphones from the beginning of this millennium. It is still used by some smartphones (e.g. Nokia) but is quickly loosing its market share.


A type of two-way communication with virtually no time delay, allowing participants to respond in real time.



A tablet is a fusion of laptops and smartphones, embodying the mobility of a smartphone and the workability of a PC. Tablets can be used to surf the Internet, and with an ocean of apps available they can be used for work, educational purposes, games, multimedia, etc.


The terabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix tera represents the fourth power of 1000, and means 1012 in the International System of Units (SI), and therefore one terabyte is one trillion (short scale) bytes. The unit symbol for the terabyte is TB.

Transmission fee

Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol are in fact two cooperating protocols that are essential parts of the Internet protocol set. The TCP breaks the data into packets while the IP routes them.


Tethering is the practice of using a mobile device (such as a smartphone) as a modem to connect another device, such as a laptop or another mobile phone to the Internet. To do so, the phone must have mobile data enabled. Tethering is one method of creating a mobile hotspot (an ad hoc wireless access point). The practice is increasingly common for travellers, out-of-office employees and those who want access to an alternative to the corporate network from within the workplace. (See: BYON — bring your own network.) Tethering may or may not provide affordable connectivity, depending on the user’s data plan and contract.

Text messages

See SMS.


Refers to a display which responds to direct touch manipulation, either by finger, stylus, or both.


Tri-band GSM phone is one that supports three of the four major GSM frequency bands, allowing it to work in most parts of the world. The two most common kinds of tri-band GSM phones are the European type, which support the 900, 1800 and 1900 frequencies and the American type, which cover the 850, 1800 and 1900 frequencies.



See 3G.

Unified messaging

Unified messaging (sometimes referred to as the unified messaging system or UMS) is the handling of voice, fax, and regular text messages as objects in a single mailbox that a user can access either with a regular e-mail client or by telephone. The PC user can open and play back voice messages, assuming their PC has multimedia capabilities. Fax images can be saved or printed.

Unlocked phone

A phone without a carrier SIM lock.

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

USB is a standard for a wired connection between two electronic devices, including a mobile phone and a desktop computer. The connection is made by a cable that has a connector at either end. One end, the one that plugs into the computer, is the same across all USB cables while the one that plugs into the mobile device can be of various types such as miniUSB, microUSB or a proprietary connector. USB version 1.1 provides maximum speeds of up to 1.5 MB/s while the current version 2.0 is about 40 times faster. The versions are backwards compatible and the speed is limited by the slower device. Transferring data may require drivers to be installed on the desktop computer but some phones offer “mass storage” mode which means they appear as thumb drives to the computer and no special drivers are needed. In addition to their data transferring application, USB cables also carry an electric charge that can be used to power peripherals (such as USB mice or keyboards), and many mobile phones can be charged through their USB port.


Refers to SIM card.


Video call

Video call is a 3G network feature that allows two callers to talk to each other while at the same time viewing live video form each other’s phone. To make a video call, both users should have 3G phones which support this feature and they both need to be in range of a 3G network.


Audible communication over a traditional land-line, wireless cellular or smart phone or even through a computer via VOIP.


Voice over Internet Protocol (also voice over IP, VoIP or IP telephony) is a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms Internet telephony, broadband telephony, and broadband phone service specifically refer to the provisioning of communications services (voice, fax, SMS, voice-messaging) over the public Internet, rather than via the public switched telephone network (PSTN).


Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals. It is based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network, with specific profiles for control and media plans of voice service on LTE defined by GSMA in PRD IR.92. This approach results in the voice service (control and media planes) being delivered as data flows within the LTE data bearer. This means that there is no dependency on (or ultimately, requirement for) the legacy circuit-switched voice network to be maintained. VoLTE has up to three times more voice and data capacity than 3G UMTS and up to six times more than 2G GSM. Furthermore, it frees up bandwidth because VoLTE’s packets headers are smaller than those of unoptimized VoIP/LTE.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A set of communication protocols that allows remote users to securely access a remote network. An example of this technology is when you access your corporate Intranet remotely from your mobile phone. If your company has a VPN server set up, you can enter the connection details on a supported device and join the corporate Intranet with all user rights and privileges you would have if you were physically there. At the same time, the connection remains secure from unauthorized access.


WAP 1.0

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is a format of mobile web that relies on WML mark-up language and special protocols designed for ultra-efficient transmission of content to limited devices over limited connections.

WAP 2.0

WAP 2.0 is a popular format of choice for mobile web that relies on a new set of standards that are more in line with Internet standards. Using xHTML, mobile carriers, content providers and media companies can present content and functionality in more robust formats via faster wireless technologies.


WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) is a high-speed 3G mobile wireless technology with the capacity to offer higher data speeds than CDMA and therefore can transmit and receive information faster and more efficiently.


A widget is a third-party lightweight web application that can be embedded in a 3G mobile phone. In Android smartphones this is a particularly visible feature in that the user can place widgets on the home-screen (e.g. a clock, weather forecast, Facebook updates).


WiFi is the wireless connection you get through a local network (e.g. your Internet hub at home) rather than the mobile network (e.g. 3G connection), which requires a subscription and often has a usage limit.

Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile was a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft for smartphones and Pocket PCs. Launched in 2000, it was the predecessor of Windows Phone and was discontinued with the introduction of its successor in 2010.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, and is the successor to its Windows Mobile platform. Launched in second half of 2010, Microsoft had created a new and much neater user interface called Metro.


See WiFi


World Wide Web. (1) Technically refers to the hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow text, graphics, and sound files to be mixed together. (2) Loosely refers to all types of resources that can be accessed.



While DSL stands for digital subscriber line, xDSL is the general representation for various types of digital subscriber line technology, such as ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line), such as VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line).


Zero rating

Zero rating is the practice of not charging customers for data use on specific websites and services by Internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile service providers (MSPs).