Wireless Terminology

Are you frustrated with all of the wireless terminology, acronyms, and jargon?  Even for those of us working, living, and breathing in the wireless industry, understanding and keeping up with all of the lingo out there is challenging.  So try not to be too hard on yourself if you come across a wireless term or acronym that means nothing to you; you're not alone! Wireless Acronyms

The following table is a list of common wireless terminology that will definitely help you to better understand the industry, or simply help you along as you read articles, reviews, or talk to friends.  I update this page whenever I come across a new term, so definitely check back regularly.

If there's a wireless term or acronym that you think is missing from the following wireless terminology list, please feel free to use the form below to submit it for inclusion on this page.

Also, although the list is alphabetical, if you're looking for a specific term, you can also use your computer's search capability.  That will take you directly to the term.  If you don't come up with any search results, you'll definitely want to submit that term to me so I can add it to the site!


Average Revenue Per Unit/User - A measure of how much money a customer generates per month.  This is not the amount of money they replenish on their account, but rather the actual funds consumed by buying services from the phone.


Call Detail Record - A file that wireless carriers have in their backend systems that includes detailed call information, including phone numbers called, received, billing period, minutes/charges per call, call duration, etc.


A measure of the percent of customers leaving (i.e. deactivating).  High churn can severely impact a wireless company's ability to grown if the number of customers leaving each month is higher than the number of new customers joining on.


Code Division Multiple Access - A digital cellular technology patented by Qualcomm.  Learn more.


Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution - 2.5G high speed digital data technology.  Compatible with technology.  Also called Enhanced GPRS.


Evolution Data Optimized - This is the 3G technology on CDMA networks.  The initial implementation was Rev0; the latest version is RevA, which has faster download speeds, and much faster upload speeds.


Fair Isaac Credit Organization - A measure of credit risk.  Named after its creators.  Learn more.


General Packet Radio Service - The first high speed digital data service.  Compatible with GSM technology.

 Gross Adds The total number of new customers added to the carrier's network each month.


Global System for Mobile Communications - One of the major standards for cellular networks.  Available in over 100 countries, and deemed the standard in Europe.  Uses SIM cards.  Learn more.


High Speed Downlink Packet Access - 3G digital data cellular service using GSM technology.


High Speed Packet Access - Part of the 3G data services family.  Evolved from WCDMA,


Integrated Digital Enhanced Network - Cellular technology from Motorola.  Supports voice, data, SMS, and two-way radio.

Kiosk A common term referring to any self-service machine.


LifeTime Value


Long Term Evolution - 4G cellular technology standard for high speed data transmission.

 Mag Stripe The black magnetic stripe on the back of a card (ex. credit card, replenishment card, etc.).  This is the part of a card that is swiped at the register that contains encoded information that tells the register where to send the transaction request.
 MiFi  Mobile hotspot integrating Wi-Fi and mobile/cellular broadband.
 Mobile-to-Mobile Wireless carriers offer free/included calls when customers call other customers within the same wireless provider's network.  Ex. Free Verizon to Verizon calls.
 MoIP Mobile communication over Internet Protocal - Using data services to deliver voice.  Different from VoIP, which uses backend technology to deliver voice of data networks, MoIP uses an application on the handset.


Minutes Of Use - This is the number of minutes used by a customer each month.  Low usage can indicate a non-committed customer who is more likely to churn.  However, high usage can mean high network costs, especially for unlimited plans where customers don't pay for each minute they use.


Mobile Virtual Network Operator.

 Net Adds The total number of new customers added after subtracting the total number of lost customers (i.e. customers that churned).


Non-Point Of Sale Activation - A process whereby products with value (ex. replenishment cards) maintain their value and have a high risk of theft.


Operating Income Before Depreciation & Amortization - A measure of a company's profitability.  Companies can have high revenues but have high expenses resulting in low profitability


Personal Digital Assistant


Point Of Sale - Used to refer to in-store (where purchases are made).


Point Of Sale Activation - A process allowing products with value (ex. replenishment cards) to be displayed without the risk of theft.  Only when the product is activated at the sales register does the product take on value.

 Prepaid Account Balance The money on a prepaid phone that can be used to purchase wireless services.
 Replenishment The action of adding money to a prepaid account using any method (ex. cash, credit card, debit card, electronic check).


Real Time Replenishment - Refers to a PIN-less replenishment where money is added to your account in real time at point of sale.  Often referred to as topup.


Short Message Service - Often referred to as text messaging.  Typically a maximum of 160 characters.


Subscriber Identity Module - Smart card used in GSM and iDEN phones that stores customer account information as well as contacts.  Allows you to easily swap your account information into another phone.


Term commonly used to mean PIN-less Real Time Replenishment (RTR).  Also sometimes used to refer generally to adding money to an account.


Universal Mobile Telecommunications System - 3G wireless service for GSM technology.  Uses WCDMA and HSPA.


Universal Product Code

  VoIP  Voice Over Internet Protocol - Delivering voice calls over data networks.


Wideband CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) - 3G high speed digital data technology.  Compatible with TDMA and GSM technologies.


Wireless Application Protocol - An open international standard used on cellular phones to enable Internet (HTTP) access.


Wireless Fidelity - High frequency local area network.  Consumer friendly name for IEEE 802.11 standards.


Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access - A wireless telecommunications technology for providing high speed data over long distances.  No longer used.

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Wireless Terminology

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