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Telecom glossary

Below is a list compiling some of the most often used telecom terms:

» Access Charge

Fee charged by a local telephone company for using its local exchange networks and incurred by either the end user or by another telephone company.

» Broadband Internet

A broadband Internet connection provides fast Internet connectivity usually over 200 kbps. Cable and DSL connections are the 2 most popular examples of broadband connections.

» Closed Captioning

A service that translates TV speech into written words for the hearing impaired.

» Common Carrier

Technical term for a telephone company.

» Cramming

An abusive practice by some phone companies "cramming" customers' phone bills with charges for additional services they did not order.

» Dial Around Service

Long distance phone service that can be used by first dialing an access number (toll free, 10-10, or local number). This way the caller can bypass his/her current provider and connect to a long distance company of choice, usually for better rates.

» GPS - Global Positioning System

A US satellite system that allows people on the ground, on the water or in the air to determine their position with extreme accuracy using GPS receivers.

» HDTV (High Definition Television)

A new generation of TV systems providing much clearer picture and sound (1920x1080 pixels as opposed to 1366x768 pixels offered by today's regular definition TVs).

» Landline

Traditional phone service using wires.

» Number Portability

The capability of keeping your landline or cellular telephone number at the same location when changing providers.


Personal Communication Services - an enhanced generation of wireless technology used in the United States. PCS cellular devices allow wireless voice communication as well as paging, data connections, etc.


Prescribe Interexchange Charge - a fee charged by your local phone company to your new long distance company for switching over your service.

» Roaming

Using a wireless device outside of your home area. This area is defined by your wireless service provider.

» Satellite Radio

Digital radio stations, usually commercial free broadcasted via a satellite signal and received using a special radio device. Satellite radio allows users to listen to the same radio station anywhere they go. This service can be used for a monthly fee.

» Slamming

An illegal practice occuring when a phone company switches over a user's phone service to this company without the user requestiong or allowing it.

» Subscriber Line Charge (SLC)

A charge paid by telephone subscribers to their local phone company to cover for part of the costs involved in maintaining the local network between the phone company and the subscribers' homes.

» Tariff

The documents filed by a carrier describing their services and the payments to be charged for such services.

» TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service)

A free service that enables people with speech or hearing disabilities as well as people using sign language to use a telephone by having someone translate their calls in real time.

» TTY Device

The special device used for TRS communications (see above). Also known as TDD.

» Universal Service Fund

A fund used to help phone companies provide telephone service at affordable rates to all areas/people/public institutions. Contributors to this fund are all long distance companies providing state to state phone service. Many companies choose to pass this charge on to their customers.