Network Glossary

Optus Networks Glossary Terminology
4G Device
With 4G devices and a compatible plan, you can access our 3G network plus some or all of our 4G Plus network. Look out for devices with the "4G in more places" symbol to access our 4G Plus network wherever it expands.
4G Plus network
The Optus 4G Plus network uses multiple frequencies (FDD LTE 700 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 MHz / TD LTE 2300 MHz) to provide coverage. Coverage availability will vary depending on your device and location.
3G refers to the third generation of mobile networks, which introduced faster data speeds enabling you to browse the internet on a mobile device.
3G Network
The Optus 3G network uses the UMTS 900MHz/2100 MHz frequencies to provide coverage, and reaches 98.5% of the Australian population.
3G Single Band Device
A 3G single band device allows you to access the 3G 2100 MHz network coverage only.
3G Device
A 3G device will enable you to access our 3G (900MHz/2100 MHz) network.
CMTS stands for Cable Modem Termination System. It is a piece of equipment that connects the cable network to the internet within an Optus exchange. It allows us to provide high speed data services to our cable network.
DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications. It’s a set of international standards that specify how high speed data is provided over a cable network. Optus uses DOCSIS 3.0.
This is a term used to describe what direction data is flowing through the network. ‘Downstream’ means data is flowing from the network to your device, such as a phone or mobile internet dongle.
IP stands for Internet Protocol, and it’s the code that is used to send information across a network. The IP governs how data packets are sent, or ‘routed’, across a network and is an important part of how the Internet works today.
IP Address
Each device that is connected to the Internet is assigned a unique IP Address, as determined by the rules of the IP. This address is how the IP routes data packets from a host device to a destination device, such as from a server to a mobile phone.
Local Access Telephone is the basic telephone service provided by Optus over our HFC network.
This is a term used to describe what direction data is flowing through the network. ‘Upstream’ means data is flowing from your device, such as a phone, up into the network.
To upload means to send data to the network, such as sending an email from your phone or saving a file to cloud storage. An upload may refer to the file that has been sent or the process of sending that file.
To download means to receive data from the network, such as receiving an email to your phone or receiving a webpage to your computer. A download may refer to a file that is made available for downloading, a file that has been received or the process of receiving that file.
Multi-Band Device
A dual-band device is any mobile device that is capable of connecting to two different frequencies, a tri-band device is capable of connecting to three frequencies and a quad-band is capable of connecting to four frequencies. Multiple-band devices are common in Australia, where most carriers use multiple frequencies to provide 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. Each carrier also uses different frequencies, so device manufacturers design multiple-band devices to work across all carriers. Overseas carriers may use different frequencies as well, which is why some mobile devices will not work in different countries.
Dual-band Device
See multi-band device
Tri-Band Device
See multi-band device
Quad-Band Device
See multi-band device
2G Network
2G is also known as GSM, which stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. This term refers to the second generation of mobile networks, which moved to using digital to allow voice calls and very slow data, only suitable for uses like text messaging or GPRS applications.
GSM Network
See 2G Network
3G refers to the third generation of mobile networks, which introduced faster data speeds enabling you to browse the internet on a mobile device.
4G refers to the fourth generation of mobile networks, which is introducing very fast data speeds comparable to ADSL2+ fixed broadband speeds. 4G allows you to connect to the internet much quicker than on 3G.
GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Services. It is a service that enables data to be sent and received on 2G and 3G networks. It provides a moderate data transfer speed, and it suitable for uses like SMS, MMS and very basic, slow internet access at speeds of less than 60 KB per second.
Cell on Wheels
A Cell on Wheels is affectionately known as a CoW here at Optus. It is a portable base station that is used to boost capacity and coverage on a temporary basis. We will bring in a CoW to ensure we can meet the increased demand at major events, such as large concerts or sporting events.
Capacity refers to how much traffic a network is able to handle. Network traffic includes voice, such as phone calls, and data, such as a GPD request or downloading an email.
Backhaul refers to the links that connect a point back into the next level hub within the network.
Throughput is the rate at which data is travelling between two points on a network. It's usually measured in bits per seconds (bps) and is used to measure.
Latency is a measure of how long it takes for data to travel through a network, which depends on the technology and hardware being used in that network.
HFC network
HFC stands for the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial, and is the name of Optus' own fixed network. The HFC network uses a combination of optical fibre and coaxial cable to provide broadband access to homes. Optus provides internet access, telephony and cable television services over the HFC network.
Point of Interconnect
A Point of Interconnect, also called a POI, is the physical location where different carriers connect to each other's networks. POIs are usually in an exchange, and enable you to make phone calls to people conneceted to other carrier's networks.
Fixed Network
A fixed network is any network which uses physical wires to connect the end user to the network. For example, most houses in Australia are connected to a fixed network, whereby either fibre-optic cables or copper wires physically connect the house back into the rest of the network. You might have a telephone service or an internet service through a fixed network.
ULL stands for Unbundled Local Loop. The Local Loop is the last link of connection in a fixed network, from the local exchange to your premises. In Australia, the Local Loop is often referred to as the 'last mile' or the 'copper mile', and is owned by Telstra. Regulation has been put in place to ensure that all telecommunications providers are allowed access to the Local Loop without being required to use any other parts of Telstra's network, so the Local Loop is called 'Unbundled' from the rest of that network.
Spectrum refers to the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Different spectrum ranges refers to different types of radiation, such as microwave, infrared, visible (ie light) and x-rays. Telecommunications uses the radio spectrum to operate mobile networks.
Frequency refers to the exact range of spectrum that a carrier is licensed to use to operate their mobile network. Optus has licenses to use part of the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, and 2600 MHz frequencies, each for different mobile network technologies (such as 3G or 4G).
Handover is what happens when you move between the ranges of one base station to another base station. Handover is an important part of a mobile network, as it means that your calls or internet connection won’t drop out if you are out and about.
A femtocell is sometimes also called a small cell, and is essentially a household base station. It acts as a wireless connection between your mobile device and your carrier's network, usually by directly connecting to the fixed broadband network. A femtocall can provide better coverage and capacity within a limited area, such as your home. At Optus, our femtocell is called the Optus 3G Home Zone.
Base Station
A base station communicates with a mobile device, such as your phone, and connects this device to the rest of the network. Base stations might link a phone to the network through a direct connection to a fixed network or a wireless connection, such as a microwave link.
Spectrum Refarming
Spectrum refarming is a process that allows a carrier to use multiple network technologies on the same frequency. For example, the 900 MHz spectrum can be used for both 2G and 3G networks, but was originally setup only with 2G. Spectrum refarming allows carriers to continue to adapt and provide the latest technology without using up more spectrum.
A carrier is also known as a Mobile Network Operator and is a provider of mobile communication services. A carrier will usually have control over the spectrum and the infrastructure to deliver services to users. Optus is a mobile network carrier.
Telephone Exchange
An telephone exchange is the system of switches and connections that actually connect telephone calls from the dialer to the caller. A telephone exchange usually houses the telephone switch, which is the actual piece of equipment that directs calls through to the next exchange and so on until the call reaches its destination.
Mobile Network
A mobile network is any network which uses wireless links to connect the end user to the network. For example, your mobile phone is connected to the mobile network through radio links to the nearest base station. You might have a phone and/or internet service through mobile network.