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Glossary of Terms

Also called Gigabit Ethernet, this is a new standard that is being defined to carry 1 gigabit/second traffic a total distance of 100 meters using CAT 5 twisted pair cable. In contrast to 10BaseT and 100BaseT which use only 1 pair of wires, 1000BaseT uses all four pairs each operating at 250 Mbps to achieve its high speed.
A 100 megabit/second twisted pair network. It uses Category 5 (CAT5) wiring. It can be run a maximum of 100 meters.
A 10 megabit/second network. The 10 indicates 10Mbps and T for twisted pair wires. Category 3 wire is the minimum wiring requirement. It can be run a total of 100 meters. This wiring scheme has become very popular due to the low cost of the wiring, simple installation, low cost adapters and strong commonality between adapters.
(Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Line)
The form of DSL that will become most familiar to home and small business users. ADSL is called "asymmetric" because most of its two-way or duplex bandwidth is devoted to the downstream direction, sending data to the user.
Alarm System
An alarm system is designed to detect unauthorized intrusion into a building or area of a building. A wide range of control equipment and detection devices can be selected to meet the customers need for detection of an attempted or actual burglary. Most burglar alarm systems will sound an alarm at the site and report to a central station.
(Automated Meter Reading)
The remote collection of consumption data from customers' utility meters using telephony, radio frequency, power-line and satellite communications technologies.
Analog technology refers to electronic transmission accomplished by adding signals of varying frequency or amplitude to carrier waves of a given frequency of alternating electromagnetic current. Broadcast and phone transmission have conventionally used analog technology.
(American National
Standards Institute)
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has served in its capacity as administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary standardization system for more than 80 years. ANSI does not itself develop American National Standards (ANSs); rather it facilitates development by establishing consensus among qualified groups.
Transfer Mode
A high-speed multiplexing and switching method utilizing fixed-length cells of 53 obtects to support multiple types of traffic. Note: ATM, specified in international standards, is asynchronous in the sense that cells carrying user data need not be periodic.
The condition of being automated; any system or method that uses self-operating equipment, electronic devices, etc. to replace human beings in doing routine or repetitive work actions.
Bandwidth (the width of a band of electromagnetic frequencies) is used to mean (1) how fast data flows on a given transmission path, and (2), somewhat more technically, the width of the range of frequencies that an electronic signal occupies on a given transmission medium. Any digital or analog signal has a bandwidth.
A technology named after Harald Bluetooth, a 10th-century Viking King who united Denmark under Christianity. This short-range RF solution (10 centimeters to 10 meters) operates on a bandwidth of 2.4 GHz, which is an unlicensed frequency worldwide. The technology is intended to eliminate proprietary cabling between portable devices such as laptops, cell phones, and personal digital assistants (PDAs) at a top throughput of 1 Mbps. There are currently more than 1,400 member companies in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
A bridge is a device that connects two similar networks together. All messages are passed automatically. It is mainly used to increase the distance or number of devices a given type of network can handle.
Broadband refers to telecommunication that provides multiple channels of data over a single communications medium, typically using some form of frequency or wave division multiplexing.
(The Continental Automated
Buildings Association)
A non-profit association of manufacturers, dealers, telecommunications companies, energy utilities, builders, consultants, research organizations, publishers, educational institutions, governments, and associations dedicated to providing information, education and networking relating to home and building automation.
Cable Modem  
A cable modem is a device that enables you to hook up your PC to a local cable TV line and receive data at about 1.5 Mbps. This data rate far exceeds that of the prevalent 28.8 and 56 Kbps telephone modems and the up to 128 Kbps of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and is about the data rate available to subscribers of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) telephone service. A cable modem can be added to or integrated with a set-top box that provides your TV set with channels for Internet access. In most cases, cable modems are furnished as part of the cable access service and are not purchased directly and installed by the subscriber.
Category 3
(Category 3 Wiring)
Consists of 4 pairs of twisted pair wires used for medium speed communications of up to 10 megabits over distances of up to 100 meters. The FCC has specified that new homes use a minimum of CAT3 wiring for telephones in new home construction.
Category 4
(Category 4 wiring)
Consists of 4 pairs of twisted pair wires used for medium speed communications of up to 16 Mbps over distances of up to 100 meters. It is not in general use as it was quickly followed by CAT5 wiring providing higher speed communications for approximately the same price.
Category 5
(Category 5 Wiring)
Consists of 4 pairs of twisted pair wires used for high speed communications of up to 100 Mbps over distances of up to 100 meters.
(Closed-Circuit TV)
A special dedicated system of television signals on a closed network. CCTV is most typically used in the use of surveillance camera environments.
(The Consumer
Electronics Association)
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a sector of the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), represents more than 600 U.S. companies involved in the development, manufacturing and distribution of audio, video, mobile electronics, communications, information technology, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services, that are sold through consumer channels. Combined, these companies account for more than $60 billion in annual sales. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES - Your Source for Workstyle and Lifestyle TechnologySM.
(Consumer Electronics
Known as EIA-600, it is a standard developed by the Electronics Industry Association. The CEBus effort was initiated in 1984 as a cross-industry effort among players in home controls, residential wiring, and consumer electronics. The standard specifies how products send messages to other products, identifies the (numerous) media available and how to use them, and defines what products can say to each other and how they say it. CEBus utilizes the Common Application Language (CAL), which serves as the basis for a CEBus "spin-off" known as EIA/CEA - 844 (Generic CAL).
(Custom Electronic
Design & Installation
An international trade association of companies. That specialize in planning and installing electronic systems for the home - typically media rooms, single or multi-room entertainment systems, home automation and communication systems, and integrated whole-house subsystems providing control of lighting, security and HVAC systems.
Cluster Network  
A cluster network is a group of devices that are connected to each other, at least some bi-directionally, is self-contained, and can perform its minimal function without the need to communicate with another network.
Coaxial Cable  
Coaxial wiring often used to distribute video signals but can also be used for other types of communications. There are several categories of coax used in homes such as RG59 and RG6. RG6 is recommended for all new wiring for cable and satellite TV. A coaxial or coax cable is a concentric cable consisting of a center conductor, a dielectric, and one or more shields. Coax cable used in the home for CATV or MATV (Master Antenna TV system) and has a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms.
Control Network  
Control networks link intelligent devices together to permit a distributed and live network to reside in a home, building, or factory by providing a low-cost, reliable, and flexible networking platform optimized for needs of control.
The coming together of two or more disparate disciplines or technologies to allow increased functionality and ease of use.
Daisy Chain  
A wiring method where each termination point is wired in series from the previous jack.
(Digital Enhanced
Cordless Telecommunications):
A digital wireless telephone technology that is expected to make cordless phones much more common in both businesses and homes in the future. Formerly called the Digital European Cordless Telecommunications standard because it was developed by European companies, DECT's new name reflects its global acceptance.
Dedicated Wire  
Wiring that is installed specifically to be used for communications. It includes twisted pair wiring used for Ethernet networks, coax wiring used for cable TV, etc.
(Digital Subscriber Line)
A technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small businesses over ordinary copper telephone lines.
Digital describes electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data in terms of two states: positive and non-positive. Positive is expressed or represented by the number 1 and non-positive by the number 0. Thus, data transmitted or stored with digital technology is expressed as a string of 0's and 1's. Each of these state digits is referred to as a binary digit (and a string of bits that a computer can address individually as a group is a byte). It provides signal reproduction with little noise or distortion.
Spread Spectrum)
Wireless LAN products are available in three different technologies - direct-sequencing spread-spectrum (DSSS), frequency-hopping spread-spectrum (FHSS), and infrared. DSSS and FHSS are spread-spectrum techniques that operate over the radio airwaves in the unlicensed ISM band (industrial, scientific, and medical). DSSS uses a radio transmitter to spread data packets over a fixed range of the frequency band.
Do-it-yourself and Do-it-for-me, slang terms to refer to consumers who enjoy installing their own electronics and those who prefer help from a professional, respectively.
(Digital Television)
Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television signals using digital rather than conventional analog methods.
(Digital Versatile Disk)
A CD-sized laser disc used to store and playback high quality audio and video.
Ethernet is the most widely-installed local area network (LAN) technology. Specified in a standard, IEEE 802.3, Ethernet was originally developed by Xerox and then developed further by Xerox, DEC, and Intel. An Ethernet LAN typically uses coaxial cable or special grades of twisted pair wires. The most commonly installed Ethernet systems are called 10BASE-T and provide transmission speeds up to 10 Mbps. Devices are connected to the cable and compete for access using a Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) protocol.
Existing Wiring  
Existing wiring includes telephone wires, coax cabling and power line wiring already in most homes today.
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 opticcabling is used for high-speed communications in many areas with very high-speed communications requirements. Some cables can handle Gbps over long distances.
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.)
Wireless LAN products are available in three different technologies - direct-sequencing spread-spectrum (DSSS), frequency-hopping spread-spectrum (FHSS), and infrared. DSSS and FHSS are spread-spectrum techniques that operate over the radio airwaves in the unlicensed ISM band (industrial, scientific, and medical). FHSS uses a technique by which the signal transmitted hops among several frequencies at a specific rate and sequence as a way of avoiding interference.
A gateway is a special node that interfaces to one or more dissimilar networks and translates between them (such as between security and lighting controls). An example of a home gateway is a node that connects a HomePnA data network connecting several PCs to an IEEE 1394a A/V network Such a gateway might be used to provide access to video files stored on the PC's hard drive for viewing on a DTV.
(High Definition
A television display technology that provides picture quality similar to 35 mm. movies with sound quality similar to that of a compact disc.
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.
Home Plug & Play
The Home Plug & Play standard allows CAL to be transported by multiple transport protocols, including IEEE 1394.
(Hypertext Markup
The set of markup symbols or codes inserted in a file intended for display on a World Wide Web browser page.
(Hypertext Transfer
The set of rules for exchanging files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the World Wide Web.
In data communications, a hub is a place of convergence where data arrives from one or more directions and is forwarded out in one or more other directions.
(Heating, Ventilation
and Air Conditioning)
A collectivie term for all climate control appliances in offices, residences and businesses.
IEEE 1394  
A technology that also goes by the name of FireWire (Apple Computer) and i.LINK (Sony), this high-speed hardware and software-based networking solution delivers data at rates of between 100 and 800 Mbps. Designed for technologies requiring isochronous data transfer (consumer electronics, digital video, etc.), this technology is embodied in a thin cable that provides for "hot-pluggable" connections between devices. 1394 has been implemented in several networking specifications including HAVi and by the VESA Home Networking Committee.
IEEE 802.11b  
"High-Rate" radio frequency networking technology developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Most wired networks conform to 802.3, the specification for CSMA/CD based Ethernet networks or 802.5, the specification for token ring networks. 802.11 defines the standard for wireless LANs encompassing three incompatible (non-interoperable) technologies: Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS), Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS), and Infrared.
Infrared (IR)  
A point-to-point, line of sight signal transmission medium, used predominantly for entertainment remote control functions.
(Integrated Services
Digital Network)
An integrated digital network in which the same time-division switches and digital transmission paths are used to establish connections for different services. Broadband ISDN refers to high-speed ISDN. It is most popular in Europe and used very little in the US.
(Internet protocol)
A DOD standard protocol designed for use in interconnected systems of packet-switched computer communication networks. Note: IP provides for transmitting blocks of data called datagrams from sources to destinations, where sources and destinations are hosts identified by fixed-length addresses. IP also provides for fragmentation and re-assembly of long datagrams, if necessary, for transmission through small-packet networks.
The ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer.
IP Telephony
(Internet Protocol
A general term for the technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of information that have traditionally been carried over the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Using the Internet, calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, avoiding the tolls of the PSTN. The challenge in IP telephony is to deliver the voice, fax, or video packets in a dependable flow to the user. Much of IP telephony focuses on that challenge.
From the Greek for "equal" and "time," isochronous data transfer pertains to processes that require timing coordination to be successful, such as voice and digital video transmission.
Developed by Sun Microsystems, JavaTM technology-based software is typically delivered over a network, and can also be installed on computers from traditional media such as CD-ROMs. The same program or software component can run on a variety of computers and devices.
Jini network technology provides a simple infrastructure for delivering services in a network and for creating spontaneous interaction between programs that use these services regardless of their hardware/software implementation. Any kind of network made up of services (applications, databases, servers, devices, information systems, mobile appliances, storage, printers, etc.) and clients (requesters of services) of those services can be easily assembled, disassembled, and maintained on the network using Jini Technology. Services can be added or removed from the network, and new clients can find existing services - all without administration.
(Local Area
A network of personal computers and peripheral devices configured to share information over a short distance, usually within one building.
(Local Exchange Carrier)
A term for a public telephone company in the U.S. that provides local service. Some of the largest LECs are the Bell operating companies (BOCs) which were grouped into holding companies known collectively as the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) when the Bell System was broken up by a 1983 consent decree. In addition to the Bell companies, there are a number of independent LECs, such as the former GTE.
This home and building control standard was initiated by Echelon Corp. in the late 1980s. Like CEBus, the standard includes communication protocols that can be delivered over multiple media. The LONWORKS system includes all the components necessary to implement open interoperable control systems that can be easily and seamlessly integrated within a home - and beyond. This LONWORKS system includes all the necessary hardware and software components for implementing complete end-to-end control systems. LONWORKS was approved as EIA-709 in 1998.
Megabits Per
Mbps stands for millions of bits per second or megabits per second and is a measure of bandwidth (the total information flow over a given time) on a telecommunications medium.
As a measure of computer processor storage and real and virtual memory, a megabyte (abbreviated MB) is 2 to the 20th power byte, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation.
The megahertz, abbreviated MHz, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one million hertz (1,000,000 Hz). The megahertz is commonly used to express microprocessor clock speed. The unit is occasionally used in measurements or statements of bandwidth for high-speed digital data, analog and digital video signals, and spread spectrum signals.
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 converts it to a digital signal for the digital device.
MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) is a standard technology and format for compression of a sound sequence into a very small file (about one-twelfth the size of the original file) while preserving the original level of sound quality when it is played. MP3 files (identified with the file name suffix of ".mp3") are available for downloading from a number of Web sites.
Multicast is communication between a single sender and multiple receivers on a network. Typical uses include the updating of mobile personnel from a home office and the periodic issuance of online newsletters.
(Multichannel Multipoint
Distribution Service)
A form of broadband fixed wireless system that operates in the 2 GHz range. Also known as "wireless cable".
Multi-Room Network  
Multi-room networks can be built by connecting 2 cluster networks together or by extending a single cluster into a second room.
(National Electrical Code)
Maintained by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), NFPA 70, or the National Electrical Code(r), provides "practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity." More specifically, the NEC(r) covers the installation of electric conductors and equipment in public and private buildings or other structures (including mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and floating buildings), industrial substations, and other premises (such as yards, carnivals, and parking lots). The NEC also covers installations of optical fiber cable.
(Network Operations
A place from which a telecommunications network is supervised, monitored, and maintained. The network operations center is the focal point for network troubleshooting, software distribution and updating, router and domain name management, performance monitoring, and network coordination.
In a network, a node is a connection point, either a redistribution point or an end point for data transmissions. In general, a node has programmed or engineered capability to recognize and process or forward transmissions to other nodes.
No-new-wires is a term commonly used to include any networking technology that does not require new wiring to be installed into typical North American homes. There are three different media that can be termed no-new-wires. These are further divided into Wired media such as telephone and power line wiring, and wireless media such as radio frequency (RF), and infrared light.
Packet Switching  
The process of routing and transferring data by means of addressed packets so that a channel is occupied during the transmission of the packet only, and upon completion of the transmission the channel is made available for the transfer of other traffic.
(Personal Communications
A wireless phone service somewhat similar to cellular telephone service but emphasizing personal service and extended mobility. Like cellular, PCS is for mobile users and requires a number of antennas to blanket an area of coverage.
(Plain Old
Telephone Service)
The wire used in older homes and many newer homes for the telephone wiring. It is a solid conductor, untwisted wire that is unsuitable for most data applications. Due to its prevalence in US homes, several protocols have been developed that can be run over POTS wire. These include HomePnA and XDSL. The FCC has specified that new home construction and new wiring in homes should not use POTS wire for telephone cabling any longer. CAT3 is the minimum wire recommended.
(Powerline Carrier)
Sending electronic information such as on/off commands, through a home's AC powerlines.
PowerLine Carrier
Powerline carrier that uses the existing power cabling found in homes and commercial buildings to connect devices. Speeds range from 60 bps to over 10 Mbps. Depending on the technology, it is used for controls and data networking.
The special set of rules that end points in a telecommunication connection use when they communicate.
(Public Switched
Telephone Network)
A domestic telecommunications network usually accessed by telephones, key telephone systems, private branch exchange trunks, and data arrangements. Note: Completion of the circuit between the call originator and call receiver in a PSTN requires network signaling in the form of dial pulses or multi-frequency tones.
(Radio Frequency)
Refers to alternating current having characteristics such that, if the current is input to an antenna, an electromagnetic (EM) field is generated suitable for wireless broadcasting and/or communications. These frequencies cover a significant portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, extending from nine kilohertz (9 kHz), the lowest allocated wireless communications frequency (it's within the range of human hearing), to thousands of gigahertz (gigahertz).
Residential Gateway  
A device that allows customer premise equipment (CPE) connected to in-home networks to access and use services from any external network regardless of media.
RG59 is an older form of coaxial cable installed in most homes built before the 90's. It has a 20 gauge center conductor and is not as well shielded as RG6. It is also smaller in overall diameter. It uses an "F" style connector. RG59 does not carry the higher cable channels and satellite TV clearly and is not recommended for use with cable modems.
RG6 cable is now specified for most new coaxial cabling in homes. It uses an 18 gauge center conductor and typically is quad-shielded (4 shields: 2 foil and 2 braids). It too uses an "F" connector which can be connected to those used by RG59. However, the connectors are different due to the RG6 cable's thickness. It is suitable for distribution of all cable and satellite system video as well as for cable modem distribution.
A router is a device used to connect two similar networks, for example two A/V cluster networks, to form a single network. It routes the signals between the two networks by looking at the destination address in a message and determines which of the networks the destination device is connected to. It differs from a bridge device in that it will not pass a message to another network unless the destination address is on that network.
A set or group of lights that are configured to come on or off in order to set a mood.
Set-top Box  
A set-top box is a device that enables a television set to become a user interface to the Internet and also enables a television set to receive and decode digital television (digital television) broadcasts.
Shared Wire  
Wiring that can be shared for multiple purposes. A shared wire might be telephone wiring that is used for voice phone calls as well as for XDSL Internet access or HomePnA data networking. Other shared wires include some coax systems and the power lines in a home.
(Shared Wireless
Access Protocols)
The SWAP specification defines a new common interface that supports wireless voice and data networking in the home. Representation from a wide range of member companies, which span diverse industries, ensures that the final specification is complete and robust, and that devices envisioned as part of the home network are interoperable.
Spread Spectrum  
Spread spectrum is a form of wireless communications in which the frequency of the transmitted signal is deliberately varied - this results in a much greater bandwidth than the signal would have if its frequency were not varied.
A means of determining what a thing should be. A standard applies to any definite rule, principal, or measure established by authority.
Structured Wiring  
A system of low-voltage wires designed to carry electronic signals throughout a home.
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is the basic communication language or protocol of the Internet. It can also be used as a communications protocol in a private network (either an intranet or an extranet). When you are set up with direct access to the Internet, your computer is provided with a copy of the TCP/IP program just as every other computer that you may send messages to or get information from also has a copy of TCP/IP.
Any transmission, emission, or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.
Topology is the physical interconnection or layout of a network.
An event that causes another event or set of events to occur. For example, a motion sensor can trigger a light to go on and an e-mail to be sent.
Twisted Pair  
Twisted pair cabling refers to a cable constructed of 2 braided wires, each with its own dielectric insulation twisted together to form a single cable. The twisting allows the cable to carry higher frequency signals than the cable could otherwise. Most twisted pair cables used in the home such as CAT 3, 4 and 5 include 4 of these pairs of wires within an outer insulating sheathing. There are 2 basic types of twisted pair cables: Shielded and unshielded. Most applications in the home use unshielded 4 pair cable.
(Universal Plug
and Play)
An architecture for pervasive peer-to-peer network connectivity of PCs of all form factors, intelligent appliances, and wireless devices. UPnP is a distributed, open networking architecture that leverages TCP/IP and the Web to enable seamless proximity networking in addition to control and data transfer among networked devices in the home, office, and everywhere in between. The Universal Plug and Play Forum, consisting of well over 130 companies, is a cross-industry effort to define the protocols necessary to create ad hoc networks among a variety of different devices.
(Universal Resource
The address of a file (resource) accessible on the Internet. The type of resource depends on the Internet application protocol.
Serial Bus)
A "plug and play" interface between a computer and add-on devices (such as audio players, joysticks, keyboards, telephones, scanners, and printers).
Voice Over IP
Voice delivered using the Internet Protocol. It is a term used in IP telephony for a set of facilities for managing the delivery of voice information using the Internet Protocol (IP). In general, this means sending voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than in the traditional circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). A major advantage of VoIP and Internet telephony is that it avoids the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service.
A whole-home 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 powerline carrier protocol created by X-10 Ltd in 1978 that carries control signals across standard electrical wire. The X-10 protocol is typically used in simple control scenarios such as the remote or automatic turning on/off of lights or appliances.
(Extensible Markup
A flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the World Wide Web, intranets, and elsewhere.

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