Digital Switchover glossary of terms

This glossary is a combination of terms from many bodies - the telecoms standards authority, the telecoms security act, published government material on the subject of Stakeholder Action Plan and other material.

Glossary of terms
Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC)The name given to the contact centres where operators accept emergency calls from Telecare devices.
Analogue devicesThese are units such as alarm units that transmit non-digital signals.
Analogue Terminal Adaptor (ATA)This is a small connector which allows analogue telecare alarms to be plugged into a digital router. In some cases, the router will have an ATA built in.
Alarm call failureWhen an alarm unit fails to connect to the ARC. The unit would normally redial to attempt the connection again.
All IPThe term given to the programme to migrate communications networks and social alarms from analogue to digital.
Battery backupA solution which provides electricity to device(s) connected to it in the event of a mains power failure.
BroadbandA service or connection generally defined as being ‘always on’ and providing a bandwidth greater than narrowband.
Communications providersThese are telecommunications companies such as BT, Virgin, Talk Talk, Sky, KCOM and so on, that are responsible for providing a telecommunications service to personal and business customers in the UK.
Digital networksThese are the telecommunications networks owned by BT, Virgin, KCOM and so on, that have been built to convey digital voice and data.
Digital transitionThis refers to the period of time between circa 2017 and 2025 when it is expected that all analogue telecommunications networks in the UK will be replaced with digital networks by communications providers.
Dispersed alarmsSocial alarms that are installed in individual’s homes.
Fibre To The Home (FTTH)This provides direct optical fibre access to residences, apartment buildings and businesses.
Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC)A mix of optical fibre to the street cabinet linked to copper wire into the home or business premises. Lower internet speed than FTTP.
Fiber To The Premises (FTTP)Also known as ultrafast full fibre broadband, involves laying fibre optic cables directly from the broadband exchange right into your home.
Grouped schemeSocial alarms installed in individual homes within a grouped living property.
HostedThe term used to describe a deployment of a service where all of the infrastructure required to operate the service (such as network, wiring, database, servers, telephony integration, security and so on) is located in a secure datacentre.
HubHardware that connects devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them.
Hybrid devicesAlarm units that are capable of transmitting wither analogue or digital protocols.
IntegrationThe term for how platforms and systems can operate as a seamless process for a user.
InternetA global network of networks, using a common set of standards (such as internet protocol), accessed by users with a computer via a service provider.
InteroperabilityThe term used to describe the ability of products and solutions created by different manufacturers to link together to share data and insights.
Internet Protocol (IP)The packet data protocol used for routing and carrying messages across the internet and similar networks.
Integrated services digital network (ISDN)Despite the name, this is an analogue network operated by Openreach, Virgin Media and KCOM that is due to be phased out by December 2025 at the latest.
Internet service provider (ISP)The packet data protocol used for routing and carrying messages across the internet and similar networks.
LegacyThis is a loose term for products or services which are no longer sold but are present in the marketplace.
Life-critical alertsEmergency alerts that are linked to potentially serious, life-threatening situations (such as smoke detectors, fire detectors, fall detectors).
Mains power failureThe primary electricity supply to a property is not active.
Network providersThese are the organisations that own the communications infrastructure (such as Openreach and Virgin).
Network operatorsA provider of wired and wireless communications services that owns or controls the infrastructure necessary to sell and deliver services to Mobile network operators, virtual network operators and end users.
Open protocolsAnalogue and/or digital signalling that is interoperable between different platforms and devices.
PeripheralsAnalogue or digital devices that are linked to a hub (such as fall detectors, smoke detectors and so on).
Proprietary protocolsAnalogue and/or digital signalling that is restricted to devices and platforms from a single manufacturer and their authorised partner solutions.
Public switched telephone network (PSTN)The name given to the traditional analogue telephony network in the UK operated by Openreach, Virgin Media and KCOM. To be phased out by December 2025 at the latest.
RouterA box that plugs into a telephone socket which relays connections to and from the Internet and creates a wireless computer network, linking all your computers together.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)The generic name given to the new digital networks in the UK which will replace PSTN/ISDN and are operated by Openreach, Virgin Media and KCOM plus other smaller network operators.
Social alarmThe term given to devices that are installed in individual homes or grouped dwellings that enable individuals to call for help in urgent situations. Social alarms must meet industry specifications approved by British Standards.The description given to an alarm unit which communicates in analogue and/or digital social alarm protocols.
Technology-Enabled Care (TEC)This refers to the industry that connects around 1.8 million vulnerable people in the UK to an operator automatically when an alarm is raised by their device.
TelecareTechnology which automatically connects vulnerable people’s voice and/or data to operators at ARCs.
Telephone exchangesBuildings owned by communications network providers to connect local properties to the UK telephone network.
Testing centresLocations around the UK where manufacturers and service providers can test analogue and digital equipment with new digital communications networks.
TonesAudible sounds that enable an analogue social alarm to communicate a message to an ARC so that the operator knows where the alarm is located and what the cause of the alarm is.
VirtualisationThe process of replacing on-premise computer hardware with cloud-based computer software.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)A technology that allows users to send calls using internet protocol, using either the public internet or private IP networks.
WLRWholesale Line Rental.
Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM)A network device which combines several digital subscriber lines into a single high speed uplink.
Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM)An optical fiber multiplexing technology that is used to increase the bandwidth of existing fiber networks.
Master SocketThe master phone socket is the main socket where the phone line enters your home or office.
RJ11The registered jack 11 (RJ11) is a type of connector commonly used for telephone cables. It has four or six pins and is used to connect phones, modems, and other telecommunication devices to a wall socket or other phone line.
RJ45The registered Jack 45 (RJ45) is a type of connector commonly used for plugging an internet-enabled device directly into hardware such as a modem, router, or server. It has eight pins that are arranged side by side in a straight line.
Socket FilterA socket filter is a means to listen to a particular network socket and communicate with an application.
Base Station ControllerA base station controller (BSC) is a mobile network component that controls one or more base transceiver stations.
Main Switch CentreThe Main Switch Centre (MSC) is responsible for switching incoming and outgoing calls to and from the mobile devices connected to the network. It approves or rejects voice communications from one device to another and helps manage roaming.
BackhaulConnects the network backbone to local networks or distributes signals across a network.

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