Most cities already have multiple telecommunications networks in place. Here are 10 of the telecommunications terms and technologies seen most often.
Cable – Coaxial cable, an inner conductor surrounded by insulation and a conductive shield, originally used for cable television but increasingly used as well for voice and data.
Cellular/mobile – A radio network of transceivers called base stations distributed over land areas called cells. Cellular/mobile uses licensed frequencies and services provided by regional and/or nationwide operators. It is typically used for mobile broadband data, voice and text services. It is increasingly being used in machine-to-machine applications. For example, to collect data from smart meters and other sensors. Comes in various flavors including 3G (3rd generation) and 4G-LTE (Long-Term Evolution).
Fiber / FTTH – Fiber optics are thin, flexible strands of glass that transmit signals as light. The bandwidth enables single fiber optic cables to easily deliver 1 Gbps (one thousand million bits per second) services and even faster. Fiber to the Home, or FTTH, describes fiber being deployed to directly connect an operator’s central distribution office to individual homes.
Microwave – Line-of-sight devices that must typically be placed in high locations so the sender and receiver can “see” each other. Often relayed from station to station.
POTS – or Plain Old Telephone Service, typically delivered to homes and businesses over twisted pair wires. POTS is a part of the Public Switch Telecom Network (PTSN).
Powerline – Transmitting data over existing electric power lines both inside the home (HomePlug) or outside (Broadband over Powerline). Typically used to collect data from smart meters and other sensors.
RF Mesh -- A system using radio frequency (RF) in a “mesh” configuration such that individual nodes pass a message along until it reaches a “collector” or “gateway” that can forward it to the backhaul network. Typically used to collect data from smart meters and other sensors.
Satellite – Communications satellites can be thought of as microwave relay stations placed very, very high (typically 22,000 miles above the earth). They are often used to relay global positioning signals or to deliver television services to homes and businesses.
WiFi – A popular networking technology that uses unlicensed radio waves for short- to medium-range wireless connections.
ZigBee – A communication protocol for “personal area networks” (PANs) created by small, low-power digital radios. Typically used to connect smart meters to thermostats and home appliances that are a short distance apart.