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Internet terms defined

Ari Howard

Jun 28, 2021 — 8 min read

Need a quick and simple definition of an internet-related term? We've got you covered.

Elderly couple looking confused at computer

Not sure of a term we referenced? We break down all the various internet definitions you may encounter when learning about broadband service. We’ve also included commonly used acronyms and added in-depth explanations for the more complex terms that are helpful to understand when buying internet.

Numbers and symbols

302: HTTP status code for found and is used to temporarily redirect visitors 

400:  HTTP status code for bad request 

401: HTTP status code for unauthorized access 

403: HTTP status code for forbidden access 

404: HTTP status code for error or page not found 

500: HTTP code for any unexpected error 

502: HTTP code for bad gateway server error response 

503: HTTP code for service unavailable

504: HTTP code for gateway timeout 


AI: Artificial intelligence (machines performing tasks that normally require human intelligence) 

Algorithm: A procedure for solving computer science problems 

Anti-malware: A type of software program that helps prevent computers and other technology from malicious software (known as malware)

Anti-spyware: A type of software program designed to remove spyware, which is software that spies on a user’s computer activities 

Anti-virus: A type of software that eliminates computer viruses 


Bandwidth: Bandwidth measures the total number of frequencies, or capacity, a network connection can handle at any given moment. With more bandwidth, more data can be transferred through a specific network at a time. This is significant for determining how many devices can connect to the network at a time. 

Bluetooth: A short range wireless interconnection between electronic devices

Broadband: Broadband tells you how quickly data can be transferred, which is your overall measurement for the speed of your internet connection. This is significant for determining the speed at which your internet can perform certain tasks, such as streaming a movie.


Cable internet: An internet service type that uses coaxial cables to transmit data 

Cache/caching: Stored data through a software component in order for that data to be accessed more efficiently in the future 

Capping: Also known as data capping. When you have a limit of how much data you can use in a month. 

Cloud computing: Data storage centers available over the internet 

Cookies: Data stored in a text file that’s used to identify a user’s computer 


Data cap: A monthly limit in the amount of data a user is allowed to use when accessing the internet 

Dial-up internet: A type of internet service that works by taking over the signal of an existing phone line and changing it from communicating voice to communicating data

Download: Receiving data from a server onto one’s electronic device 

Download speeds: The speed it takes to download data from a server in the form of images, videos, text, files and audio. This is the type of speed most people think of when they think of internet speeds. 

DSL: Digital Subscriber Line. A type of internet service that utilizes telephone lines to transmit data 


E-commerce: Short for electronic commerce. The buying and selling of goods via the internet.

Encryption: Converting data into code for privacy purposes 

Ethernet: A way to connect computers to a Wi-Fi network through a wired connection  

Extender: Short for a Wi-Fi extender. A device that connects with your router (either wirelessly or through a wired connection) to help extend your internet signal into rooms that are Wi-Fi dead zones due to walls, furniture obstructions or general spacing. 


FCC: Federal Communications Commission. An independent agency of the U.S. government responsible for implementing and enforcing America’s communications law and regulations

Fiber internet: A type of internet service that utilizes fiber optic cables to transmit data 

Firewall: A network security system that blocks unauthorized access and controls outgoing and incoming communication with predetermined security rules 

FTP: File Transfer Protocol. The protocols computers follow to transfer files from one system to another


Gigabit: A unit of measurement equivalent to 1,000 Mbps 

Gigabit broadband: Internet speeds of up to 1 Gigabit. These speeds are some of the fastest available 


High-speed internet: The FCC defines high-speed internet as 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 upload speeds, but this definition will likely increase in speed as technology advances 

HTTP vs HTTPS: The beginning of a website URL and the protocol used to transfer data over the web. HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is more common but HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is more secure because it uses encryption 


IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol. Standard email protocol that stores email messages onto a mail server. 

Internet of things: Physical objects, such as smart home security systems, that are able to collect and transfer data over a wireless network without any human interference

IP Address: Refers to the unique string of numbers that identifies your devices. The IP address is commonly referred to as the ZIP codes of the internet. 

ISP: Internet Service Provider. A company that provides internet services. 


Jitter: Small intermittent delays during data transfers


KB/KBPS: Kilobit or Kilobit per second is a measure of data transfer speed. 1,000 KBPS equals 1 Mbps, which is the typical form of measurement for internet speed


Latency: Latency measures the delay in data transfer, telling you how fast data gets from a source to its destination. 

Link: Short for hyperlink. When a user can click on a highlighted section and be transferred to a new website

Log in: How users access their own personal account 

LTE: Long-Term Evolution. The broadband standard for wireless devices. The most common mobile broadband standard is currently 4G LTE. 


Malware: Also known as malicious software. Software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.

Megabyte: A unit of measurement. Internet speeds are typically measured in megabytes per second. 

Mesh Wi-fi: A group of devices throughout a home that act as a single Wi-Fi network. Each device is called a point and the purpose of having multiple points is to provide better coverage for more areas of the house.

Mobile broadband: Another term for wireless internet access, which means internet access delivered over a mobile network 

Modem: A modem receives signals from your internet service provider and translates them for your devices to use. 

MP3: A stored audio file (only able to store audio and images)

MP4: A stored multimedia file (able to store video, stills, subtitles or text)


Net neutrality: The principle that ISPs should provide all online content equally without favoring or blocking specific products, websites or types of content.

Network: Two or more computers (or other devices) that are linked together in order to share resources. This can mean a Wi-Fi network or even just the internet. 


Operating System: The software that manages a computer’s basic functions 

OSS: Open Source Software. When the copyright holder of a software grants users the ability to use, modify or distribute the software through licensing agreements 


Phishing: A form of fraud where someone pretends to be someone else online in order to acquire personal information from another person or to deploy malware onto the victim’s computer or other device

Ping:  A ping is a test which determines if a server is reachable. The test sends a data packet to the server to see if the data comes back.

Piracy: The unauthorized use, copying or distribution of something that has been copyrighted

POP3: Post Office Protocol is a protocol used by email users in order to receive emails by downloading it to a computer from a mailbox of a server 


RAM: Random access memory is short term computer memory where working data is stored. Since it is short term, it is not stored on a computer’s hard drive 

Remote desktop: A centralized server that allows users to access their personal profile on a separate device 

Router: Takes the internet signals provided by a modem and converts them into a Wi-Fi signal so that devices can connect to the internet wirelessly


Satellite internet: An internet service type that relies on satellites to transmit data into the home 

Search engine: A program that allows a user to search for information in a database. The most well-known search engine is Google. 

SIM: A Subscriber Identification Module is a card inserted into a mobile device that securely stores personal data, including a international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number

Spam: Unsolicited messages over the internet received by a high volume of recipients 

Spyware: Software that allows someone to covertly obtain information regarding another person’s computer activities 

Static IP: When the IP address stays the same over time 

Streaming: Media content available for immediate watching or listening via any electronic device over the internet 


Throttling: When your internet provider limits your bandwidth or slows your connection to certain online activities after you’ve reached a monthly limit

Traffic: The flow of data within an internet network 

Trojan Horse: Malware that downloads to a computer disguised as legitimate software 


Ultrafast: Internet access with exceptionally fast speeds 

Unique user: An IP address, plus a further identifier 

Unlimited: When there are no data caps for internet use 

Uploading: Sending information from your computer to another device or server on the internet. Common examples include email, Zoom and live-gaming

Upload speeds: This tells you how quickly information from your network is sent to external networks 


Virus: A malicious piece of code designed to steal data from a device or damage the device entirely 

VOIP: A Voice over Internet Protocol is technology that allows a user to make voice communications over the internet instead of through a phone line  

VPN: A Virtual Private Network is a secure connection method that allows verified users to connect to a private network that has been extended across a public network


WAN: A Wide Area Network is when multiple networks communicate with one another (a network of networks). The internet is the world’s largest WAN

Wearable: Smart electronic devices you can physically wear 

Web browser: Any application software that can access the World Wide Web (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.)

Wi-Fi: Short for a wireless fidelity and is the technology that allows your devices to wirelessly connect to the internet

WLAN: A Wireless Local Area Network is a network of two or more devices that can connect to the internet wirelessly and exist in close proximity to each other (a home, school, library, etc.)


XML: Extensible Markup Language is sets of codes or tags that describe the text in a document (ex: HTML)


Zip file: A file format that compresses one or more documents into a single zip file 

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Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team. She primarily writes about broadband news and studies, particularly relating to internet access, digital safety, broadband-related technology and the digital d… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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