Digital Communications Reference Sheet

Cellular: Refers to a network technology that facilitates mobile device communication over areas composed of cells and transceivers, which are also known as base stations or cell sites. Usually cellular refers to the use of subscriber services on any one of the major carriers.

LTE: (long-term evolution) – Industry trigraph used to describe the particular type of cellular 4G data service that delivered the fastest mobile internet performance back in the 2000’s. Verizon was the one of the first carriers to roll this service out.

5G: The newest type of cellular service that is being rolled out by the carriers to work side-by-side with 4G LTE.  5G was made possible by FCC rulings to free up the RF spectrum from TV broadcasters, and to move their assigned bands to UHF.  5G services operate on the old 2-13 channel dial of TV.

5G Network Slicing: The use of network virtualization to divide single network connections into multiple distinct virtual connections that provide different amounts of resources to different types of traffic.

CBRS: Citizens Broadband Radio Service – A 150 MHz wide broadcast band of the 3.5 GHz band (3550 MHz to 3700 MHz) in the United States. In 2017, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) completed a process which began in 2012 to establish rules for commercial use of this band, while reserving parts of the band for the US Federal Government to limit interference with US Navy radar systems and aircraft communications. On January 27, 2020, the FCC authorized full use of the CBRS band for wireless service provider commercialization without the restrictions to prevent interference with military use of the spectrum. Under the new rules, wireless carriers using CBRS might be able to deploy 5G mobile networks without having to acquire spectrum licenses.

Latency: A time delay between the cause and the effect of some physical change in the system being observed. It makes it effect in the form of sluggishness; it refers to the latency between the input to a control and the visual or auditory response, often occurring because of network delay in online services. Latency is physically a consequence of the limited velocity which any physical interaction can propagate. The magnitude of this velocity is always less than or equal to the speed of light. Therefore, every physical system with any physical separation (distance) between cause and effect will experience some sort of latency, regardless of the nature of stimulation that it has been exposed to.

LoRa:  A modulation technique for specific wireless spectrum. (short for long range) is a spread spectrum modulation technique derived from chirp spread spectrum (CSS) technology. Most LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology are a long range, low power wireless platform that has become the de facto technology for Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.

LoRaWAN: Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks, and targets key Internet of Things (IoT) requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localization services.

Out-of-band (OOB) management: A method of remotely controlling and managing critical IT assets and network equipment using a secure connection through a secondary interface that is physically separate from the primary network connection. This enables administrators to gain control even during infrastructure faults. When a network goes down, or a remote device goes offline, IT administrators need a way to connect to field hardware and restore normal operation. The best way to do that is with secure out-of-band management.

RF Module: A small electronic device used to transmit and/or receive radio signals between two devices. In an embedded system it is often desirable to communicate with another device wirelessly. This wireless communication may be accomplished through optical communication or through radio-frequency communication

Embedded system: A microprocessor- or microcontroller-based system of hardware and software designed to perform dedicated functions within a larger mechanical or electrical system with a minimal operating system.  Embedded systems are usually micro-controller based devices, that function without any human intervention. They usually have the ability to recover from a complete shutdown.

Firmware: A specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for a device’s specific hardware. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for more complex device software (allowing more hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device’s complete operating system, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, and computer peripherals; in fact, almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.

NOS: (Network Operating System) – A specialized operating system for a network device such as a router, switch or firewall. Historically operating systems with networking capabilities were described as network operating systems, because they allowed personal computers (PCs) to participate in computer networks and shared file and printer access within a local area network (LAN). This description of operating systems is now largely historical, as common operating systems include a network stack to support a client–server model.

RoHS Compliant: RoHS is a product level compliance based on the European Union’s Directive 2002/95/EC, the Restriction of the Use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS). Products compliant with this directive do not exceed the allowable amounts of the following restricted materials: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), with some limited exemptions.

SBC: (Single Board Computers) – A complete computer built on a single circuit board, with microprocessor(s), memory, input/output (I/O) and other features required of a functional computer. Single-board computers are commonly made as demonstration or development systems, for educational systems, or for use as embedded computer controllers. Many types of home computers or portable computers integrate all their functions onto a single printed circuit board. Unlike a desktop personal computer, single board computers often do not rely on expansion slots for peripheral functions or expansion. Single board computers have been built using a wide range of microprocessors. Simple designs, such as those built by computer hobbyists, often use static RAM and low-cost 8- or 16-bit processors. Other types, such as blade servers, would perform similar to a server computer, only in a more compact format.

A computer-on-module is a type of single-board computer made to plug into a carrier board, baseboard, or backplane for system

SOC: (System on a chip) – An integrated circuit (also known as a “chip”) that integrates all or most components of a computer or other electronic system. These components almost always include a central processing unit (CPU), memory, input/output ports and secondary storage, often alongside other components such as radio modems and a graphics processing unit (GPU) – all on a single substrate or microchip. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio frequency signal processing functions (otherwise it is considered only an application processor).

SOM: (System on a module) – A board-level circuit that integrates a system function in a single module. It may integrate digital and analog functions on a single board. A typical application is in embedded systems. Unlike a single-board computer, a SOM serves a special function like a system on a chip (SoC). The device integrated in the SOM typically requires a high level of interconnection for reasons such as speed, timing, bus-width etc., in a highly integrated module. There are benefits in building a SOM, as for SoC; one notable result is to reduce the cost of the baseboard or the main PCB. Two other major advantages of SOMs are design-reuse and that they can be integrated into many embedded computer applications.

Spectrum sharing: An opportunity to open up access to new spectrum for mobile services but needs careful planning to succeed Spectrum sharing can help address rising demand for mobile

services by opening up access to vital new spectrum in areas where it is in-demand and where it is under-used by incumbent users. However, sharing has yet to be proven as an effective way to provide additional spectrum for mobile broadband, so careful planning is necessary to craft

 that will offer access to sufficient amounts of spectrum under conditions that support mobile broadband. While it may appear simple, the sharing approach should consider complex issues such as whether and how different classes of users will be protected. It should also include

the necessary enforcement mechanisms in cases where protection rules are violated.

PCB: (A printed circuit board), or PC board, or PCB, is a non-conductive material with conductive lines printed or etched. Electronic components are mounted on the board and the traces connect the components together to form a working circuit or assembly.

RAN: Radio Access Network (RAN) is part of a mobile telecommunication system. It implements a radio access technology. Conceptually, it resides between a device such as a mobile phone, a computer, or any remotely controlled machine and provides connection with its core network (CN). Depending on the standard, mobile phones and other wireless connected devices are varyingly known as user equipment (UE), terminal equipment, mobile station (MS), etc. RAN functionality is typically provided by a silicon chip residing in both the core network as well as the user equipment.

O-RAN: A term for industry-wide standards for RAN interfaces that support interoperation between vendors’ equipment. The main goal for using open RAN is to have an interoperability standard for RAN elements such as non-proprietary white box hardware and software from different vendors.

FlexRAN: A flexible and programmable SD-RAN platform that separates the RAN control and data planes through a new, custom-tailored southbound API. Aided by virtualized control functions and control delegation features, FlexRAN provides a flexible control plane designed with support for real-time RAN control applications, flexibility to realize various degrees of coordination among RAN infrastructure entities, and programmability to adapt control over time and easier evolution to the future following SDN/NFV principles.

vRAN: Virtualized radio access network: The next step in the evolution of mobile networks, promising to intelligently boost capacity, dramatically reduce costs, and enhance customer experience. … Amdocs also provides professional services for designing, deploying, operating, and optimizing mobile networks.

NFV: Network functions virtualization – The concept of replacing dedicated network appliances — such as routers and firewalls — with software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers.

Baseband: Refers to the original frequency range of a transmission signal before it is modulated. Baseband can also refer to a type of data transmission in which digital or analog data is sent over a single non-multiplexed channel.

Baseband unit (BBU):  A unit that processes baseband in telecomm systems. A typical wireless telecom station consists of the baseband processing unit and the RF processing unit (remote radio unit – RRU). The baseband unit is placed in the equipment room and connected with RRU via optical fiber. The BBU is responsible for communication through the physical interface. A BBU has the following characteristics: modular design, small size, low power consumption and can be easily deployed. A BBU in a cellular telephone cell site is comprised of a digital signal processor to process forward voice signals for transmission to a mobile unit and to process reverse voice signals received from the mobile unit. The digital signal processor also serves to produce a first supervisory audio tone

Supervisory Audio Tone (SAT): For transmission to the mobile unit by generating successive digital SAT samples which are decoded into a continuous tone. Finally, the digital signal processor detects the presence of a second SAT generated by the mobile unit by sampling and processing successive samples of the second SAT and measuring the power.


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