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Glossary of Terms  A-F

ACCESS CHARGE
A fee charged subscribers or other telephone companies by a local exchange carrier -- for the use of its local exchange network facilities.

ACTIVE SATELLITE
A satellite that receives and transmits radio-communication signals to or from a base station.

ADVANCED TELEVISION (ATV)

Also known as High Definition TV (HDTV). New television technology that provides better audio and video quality than the current standard television broadcast system.

AFFILIATE
A broadcast station that airs a network's programs and commercials, but is not owned by that network.

AGENDA ITEM
At the FCC, a term that refers to the document which is to be voted on by the Commission at an agenda meeting. The final document is released to the public the same day or as soon as possible.

AGGREGATOR
Any person or business who, in the normal course of business, provides a public telephone for the use of patrons through an Operator Service Provider (OSP). Hotels and payphone owners are two examples.

AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR ("HAM")
A noncommercial, private radio operator who generally uses interactive radio. There are six classes of amateur radio licenses that can be earned after passing an FCC administered exam.

AMERICAN STANDARD CODE FOR INFORMATION INTEREXCHANGE
ASCII is a uniform code used in computer and data communications systems. ASCII code letters, numbers, punctuation and actual control codes in digital codes of "0s" and "1s," which is all the computer can understand. For example, the capital "C" is 100011 and a "3" is 0110011.

AMPLITUDE MODULATION (AM)
A type of transmission used in either the standard radio broadcast band at 535-1705 kilohertz, shortwave broadcasting, and in some private radio services such as citizens band (CB) and aviation. AM works by varying the amplitude of the carrier wave at the audio rate.

ANALOG
The word is "shorthand" for analogous, which means similar to. Signal being transmitted -- voice or vide -- is similar to the original signal -- is similar to the signal originally transmitted. If a person speaks into a microphone and views the voice signal it would look essentially the same as the signal received on the other end of a transmission. Digital is another way to transmit a signal. (See Digital)

ARCHIE
The term used to describe a software tool for finding files on the Internet. You need to know the file name or substring to find a file using ARCHIE.

AUXILIARY SERVICE STATION
A type of station used by television and radio stations to facilitate the broadcast of programming to the general public.

AUDIOTEXT
The term used to describe a system that provides automated interactive telephone information, such as stock prices, sports scores and personals.

BANDWIDTH
A range of frequencies in the broadcast spectrum that is occupied by a signal. (For example, a television channel may have a bandwidth of 6 MHz.) The "necessary bandwidth" is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. Commission rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.

BASE STATION
A land station in the land mobile service. For example, in cellular and personal communications uses, each cell has its own base station; each base station is interconnected with other base stations and with the public switched network.

BASIC TRADING AREA (BTA)
Geographic boundaries that segment the country for licensing purposes. BTAs are based on Rand McNally's Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide. BTA boundaries follow county lines and include the county or counties whose residents make the bulk of their shopping goods purchases in the area. The FCC has used BTAs to license a number of services including broadband and narrowband Personal Communication Services.

BAUD
A measure of the speed at which data is transmitted, computed in number of elements changed per second. The "Baud Rate" is the speed in which a computers can transfer data through a modem using communications software. BAUDOT
A seven bit code, only five of which are information bits. Baudot is used by some text telephones to communicate with each other.

BIDDING CREDIT
A spectrum auction term. It is a credit given to eligible FCC auction applicants which allows them to receive a discount on their winning bids in an auction.

BINARY INFORMATION UNIT OR BINARY DIGIT (BIT)
The smallest unit of digital information. A single digit number in "base-2", either a 0 or a 10. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits-per-second (bps).

BIRD
A colloquial expression used to refer to a communications satellite.

BLACKOUT
A term used to describe the non-broadcast of a live event (i.e. sports, cultural) usually imposed by the sponsor(s) of the event. Also, the Syndicated Exclusivity Rule (SYNDEX) may lead to a program blackout. (See SYNDEX Rule)

BOOSTER
A television or FM broadcast station, operating at relatively low power that receives a distant input signal, amplifies it, and retransmits it on the same channel.

BROADBAND
Broadband is a descriptive term for evolving digital telephone technologies offering consumers a single switched facility offering integrated access to voice, high-speed data services, video-demand services, and interactive information delivery services. Such services are not yet commercially available. Broadband also is used to define an analog transmission technique for data or video that provides multiple channels. A cable TV system, for example, employs analog broadband transmission. (See Bandwidth)

BROADCAST
To transmit a signal over the spectrum to be received by two or more receiving devices.

BROWSER
A software program used to query, search and view information on computer sites connected to the Internet.

BYTE
A set of "bits" that represent a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a Byte.

CABLE CONVERTER BOX
Equipment provided by a cable company in a subscriber's home that allows access or controls interference to cable services.

CABLE SIGNAL LEAKAGE
Excessive levels of radio frequency (RF) energy that leak from cable television systems. Leakage can cause interference to communications users, including safety service users such as aviation, police and fire departments. FCC rules specify the maximum RF leakage, and require that cable television systems be operated within certain guidelines.

CABLE TELEVISION (CATV)
The transmission, usually for a fee, of television signals, including signals that originate at over-the-air television stations, to consumers on a wired network.

CABLE TELEVISION RELAY SERVICE (CARS)
The relaying of television, FM radio, cablecasting and other signals on a microwave frequency band to a terminal for distribution over CATV or over cable line.

CELLULAR MOBILE RADIO TELEPHONE SYSTEM
Also called "Cellular." A high capacity land mobile telephone system wherein channels assigned to the system are divided among several geographical "cells" covering a defined service area. A cellular system is capable of re-using the same channels in different cells within the service area. The use of many small cells in an area, with low transmitter powers, permits the intensive re-use of channels, thereby increasing system capacity.

CHURN
The term used to describe turnover rate of subscribers to a service or product.

CIRCUIT
A two-way communications path.

CIRCULATION
An FCC term, circulation is the procedure whereby items are routed to Commissioners for notation voting without a need for discussion at an open or closed agenda meeting. Voting is done electronically from each Commissioner's office.

CLEAR CHANNEL
A clear channel protects stations designated as Class A stations from objectionable interference within their primary and secondary service areas. The secondary service areas of the stations may extend outward for a distance of up to 750 miles at night. To provide this wide area service, Class A stations operate within a power range of 10 to 50 kilowatts.

CLOSED CAPTIONING
A service for persons with hearing disabilities that translates television program dialog into written words on the television screen. Closed captioning is not visible without the use of a specially installed decoder.

CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION (CCTV)
A system in which a signal is transmitted from a point of origin to only those receivers who have previously arranged access to it. Examples of its use are: lectures by professors in educational institutions, theater television, sports, and video conferencing.

COAXIAL CABLE (COAX)
A type of cable commonly used in cable television systems which is composed of two concentric conductors: an inner wire, and an outer braided sleeve.

COMMON CARRIER
The term used to describe a telephone company. It is a telecommunications company that is available for hire on a non-discriminatory basis to provide communication transmission services, such as telephone and telegraph, to the public

COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT (CA)
A person who translates conversation from text to voice and from voice to text between two end users of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). This service allows a person with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with anyone else via telephone at no additional costs. CA supersedes the term "TDD operator".

COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE
A satellite that is used to relay telecommunications information.

COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE CORPORATION (COMSAT)
A corporation, chartered by Congress, as an exclusive provider of international telecommunications satellite channels to the United States. COMSAT also represents the United States in INTELSAT. (See INTELSAT)

COMMUNITY ANTENNA TELEVISION (CATV)

A service through which subscribers pay to have local television stations and additional programs brought into their homes from the antenna via a coaxial cable.

COMPACT DISC (CD)
A five-inch disc on which a digital audio signal is inscribed so that it can be read optically by a laser beam device in a computer or CD player.

COMPETITIVE ACCESS PROVIDERS
Common carriers who provide local service and compete against local telephone companies' access services that connect customers to long distance companies. These carriers often use fiber optic networks.

COMPETITIVE BIDDING
Another term for an auction. (See Spectrum Auction)

CONVERGENCE
In this context, convergence means that providers of various types of communication systems can increasingly deliver products and services that compete with the products and services now delivered by other networks. One example would be a cable company providing local phone service or a local phone company providing video services. CROSSTALK
Occurs when a receiver on one communications channel inadvertently receives information being sent by a neighboring communications channel, either radio or wireline.

CUSTOMER PREMISES
EQUIPMENT (CPE)

Telephone terminal devices, such as handsets and private branch exchanges (PBXs), located on the customer's premises.

CYBERSPACE
A term introduced by science fiction author William Gibson in 1984. "Cyberspace" is where human interaction occurs over computer networks, through E-mail, games or simulations.

DEDICATED LINE
A communications circuit or channel provided for the exclusive use of a particular subscriber. Dedicated lines are used for computers when large amounts of data need to be moved between points. Also known as a "private line."

DESCRAMBLER
An electronic circuit that restores an intentionally scrambled video signal to its original standard form. DIAL-IT SERVICE
A telecommunications service that permits simultaneous calling by a large number of callers to a single telephone number utilizing the telecommunications network. There is usually a fee for calls to 900 numbers (for long distance callers) or 976 numbers (for local callers).

DIGITAL
Any type of information that can be output, transmitted and interpreted as individual bits of binary information (the use of the numbers O and 1), using electrical or electromagnetic signals that can be modulated to convey their specific content. Generally, a higher quality signal than analog for video and voice than analog. (See Analog.)

DIGITAL AUDIO BROADCASTING
Radio broadcasting using digital modulation and digital source coding techniques.

DIRECT BROADCAST SATELLITE (DBS)/DISH

A high-powered satellite that transmits or retransmits signals which are intended for direct reception by the public. The signal is transmitted to a small earth station or dish (usually the size of an 18-inch pizza pan) mounted on homes or other buildings.

DISTANT SIGNAL
A television channel from another market imported and carried locally by a cable television system.

DISTRIBUTOR
A person/company that distributes signals from a satellite carrier and provides that transmission either directly to individual subscribers for private home viewing or to other program distribution companies for their transmission to viewers.

DOCKET NUMBER
A number assigned to a proceeding opened by the issuance of the Commission, with either a Notice of Proposed Rule Making or a Notice of Inquiry or if an adjudicatory or tariff proceeding has been instituted. Prior to 1978, docket numbers consisted of five digits (e.g., 19622). Since January 1, 1978, the docket numbers indicate the year they were initiated and the Bureau which initiated the docket (e.g., MM 89-494 and CC 87-313).

DOWNLINK
The part of a satellite system that includes the satellite itself, the receiving earth station and the signal transmitted from the satellite to earth stations.

DOWNLOAD (RECEIVE)
To receive data from another computer into your computer. It is also called "receive." The opposite is called "Upload."

EARTH STATION
Equipment on the earth that can transmit or receive satellite communications. In general usage, this term refers to receive-only stations.

ELECTRONIC BIDDING
A process by which bidders in an auction use computers to place their bids. (See Spectrum Auction) ELECTRONIC BOOK
Computer program (often called an electronic book) that uses text, graphics, animation and audio to guide the user through an instruction or teaching process, an electronic "help-desk."

ELECTRONIC BULLETIN BOARD
A system located on a computer network which allows users to post or receive information; it facilitates file sharing.

ELECTRONIC FUNDS
TRANSFER (EFT)

An electronic system that transfers money and records financial transactions, replacing the use of paper.

ELECTRONIC MAIL (E-MAIL)
E-Mail allows the user to send a message via a computer instantly to one or many persons around the world. E-mail users typically have a "mailbox" on a network or a videotext system where other users can send messages to be retrieved by the recipient.

EMISSION
In this context, radiation produced by a radio transmitting station.

ENHANCED SERVICE PROVIDERS
A for-profit business that offers to transmit voice and data messages and simultaneously add value to the message it transmits. Examples include telephone answering services, alarm/security companies and transaction processing companies. An enhanced service provider officers voice as well as data services.

EN BANC
An en banc meeting is a hearing held by the Commissioners to hear various presentations on specific topics by diverse parties. The Commissioners or other officials question the presenters and their comments and presentations can be used by the Commission when it considers rules.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
("EQUAL TIME") RULE

If a political candidate obtains time on a broadcast station, other candidates for the same office (or their appointed representatives) may obtain an "equal opportunity" on that station. An equal opportunity usually includes equal time, but the term means more than equal time. For example, it means the right to obtain time in a period likely to attract approximately the same size audience as the period in which the opposing candidate appeared. News shows are exempt.

EX PARTE

Any communication addressing the merits or outcome of a particular proceeding made to decision-making personnel (or in some proceedings, from the decision-making personnel), which, (1) if written, is not served on the parties to the proceeding, or (2) if oral, is made without opportunity for the parties to the proceeding to present.

FACSIMILE (FAX)
The electronic transmission of printed material by electronic means over a telephone system. An image is scanned at a transmitting point and reconstructed at a receiving station, where a printed copy can be produced.

FCC NUMBER
Sequential number assigned by the Secretary's Office (Agenda Branch) to all documents approved by the Commission. This number is assigned after the item has been adopted by the Commission. Example: FCC 96-123. The first two digits reflect the year.

FCC RECORD
A bi-weekly comprehensive compilation of decisions, reports, public notices and other documents released by the Commission. The FCC Record replaced the FCC Reports in October 1986. The Record is available for a fee. In 1996, the per issue cost is $34; yearly subscription for $299. The ordering address: Superintendent of Documents, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; by phone: (202) 512-8200.

FIBER OPTICS
A method for the transmission of information (sound, video, data) in which light is modulated and transmitted over high-purity, hair-thin filaments of glass. The bandwidth capacity of fiber optic cable is much greater than that of copper wire.

FIXED SERVICE
Radio-communications service between specified fixed points.

FLAT RATE
A method of pricing in which a fixed rate is charged for a given service, regardless of usage. The fixed monthly charge which a residential subscriber in a local exchange pays to be allowed to make an unlimited number of local calls is an example of a flat rate.

FM CABLE SERVICE
The offering of FM radio signals over a cable system for a fee. A cable is connected to the subscriber's FM stereo receiver for service.

FOOTPRINT
The area in which a specific transmission can be received. Some footprints cover as much as one-third of the earth, such as satellite or cell systems.

FRANCHISE AUTHORITY

The franchise authority is the local government body that enters into a contractual agreement with a cable company. A franchise agreement defines the rights and responsibilities of each in the construction and operation of a cable system within a specified geographical area.

FREEWARE
Software , which is free to users. and is available from many locations on the Internet.

FREQUENCY
A measurement of the number of electromagnetic waves that pass a given point in a given time period. It is equal to the speed of light divided by wavelengths, and is expressed in Hertz (cycles per second).

FREQUENCY MODULATION (FM)
Radio transmission covering 88-108 megahertz on the broadcast band.

FM
is less susceptible to interference than

AM
broadcasting, and is also used in other frequency bands for two-way communications in land mobile and marine services.

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING (FNPRM)
A Commission term, a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making is issued by the Commission to further clarify and seek more information and public comment on the Commission's proposed changes. (See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

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