5G industry news

Glossary of useful technical terms

  • 9 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 6 May 2019
  • Last modified 25 Nov 2021
An list of technical terms used in and around the world of 5G listed alphabetically

5G Network Slicing

The ability to deliver multiple network occurrences in software over one shared infrastructure, thus improving flexibility and agility.

5G Pioneer Bands

Frequency bands at 700MHz, 3.5GHz, and 6GHz that are designated for 5G use (in the UK).

Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality

Augmented reality is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities.  5G Networks will facilitate greater use of this through expanded network bandwidth. Virtual Reality is one step further seemingly taking the viewer into a different world or environment in an immersive way.


The network that connects the radio masts to the core and the internet.

Cell Site

A cell site or cell tower is a cellular-enabled mobile device site where antennae and electronic communications equipment are placed — typically on a radio mast, tower, or other raised structure — to create a cell in a cellular network


IT parlance, a data centre where applications are hosted.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a method for delivering information technology (IT) services in which resources are retrieved from the Internet through web-based tools and applications, as opposed to a direct connection to a server.

Client User Plane Separation (CUPS)

CUPS is a 4.5G Pro enhancement to the Evolved Packet Core. It enables flexible, distributed network deployments, and independent scaling between control plane and user plane functions.

Core or Cloud Core

A network component based in software that can reside in public and provide clouds.

Components & Semiconductors

As a network’s speed increases so does the need for better components and semiconductors in order to keep up with the new demands.  These components are the microchips, processors and materials used in transporting signals.

Devices & Sensors

These are the next step in the data or signal journey again being developed to handle the new loads required by faster and increased data signals.

Dynamic Shared Spectrum

Allows spectrum to be shared between multiple users for independent use.

Dynamic spectrum access (DSA)

The term given to the technology that enables the efficient re-use of spectrum.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband

Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) is, in simple terms, an extension of services first enabled by 4G LTE networks that allows for a high data rate across a wide coverage area. eMBB is providing the greater capacity necessary to support peak data rates both for large crowds and for end users who are on the move.

Evolved NodeB (eNB)

A base station in an LTE radio network, 3GPP Rel8 to Rel14.

Evolved Packet Core (ePC)

The central server, and "brain" of an LTE mobile network. This has a series of functions, such as authenticating users requesting to access the radio network, and routing IP packets to the wider network (i.e. connecting to the Internet).

Field Programmable RF Transceivers

Special microchips that radios use to be very versatile across frequencies and modulation methods.

Fixed Wireless Access

Fixed wireless access (FWA) is the process of providing wireless broadband using radio links between two fixed points. In other words, fixed wireless is an alternate method of providing wireless internet access to homes or businesses while eliminating the need for physical connections (phone lines, cable, or fibre)

Frequency Bands

The numbered bands used in spectrum regulator phraseology to define an upper and lower frequency range.

Hyperspectral Imaging

Hyperspectral imaging, like other spectral imaging, collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. The goal of Hyperspectral imaging is to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in the image of a scene, with the purpose of finding objects, identifying materials, or detecting processes.


The Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects, that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies, and that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.


Internet Protocol. Technology standard that defines how data traverses the internet.

International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI)

The IMSI is a unique number, usually around fifteen digits long. Firstly, it identifies the network operator (e.g. 5G RuralFirst) in a specific country with whom the subscriber holds an account. The second part is allocated by the network operator to uniquely identify the subscriber. The IMSI is programmed onto the SIM card, and travels between devices when the SIM is moved.


The industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands are radio bands (portions of the radio spectrum) reserved internationally for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy for industrial, scientific and medical purposes other than telecommunications.


Just like WiFi, only it uses light.


The LoRaWAN specification is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) - Advanced, Advanced Pro

LTE can be considered a family of standards associated with 4G/ 4.5G/ 4.5G Pro/ 4.9G and 5GE 'path to 5G' mobile networks.

Massive Machine Type Communications

Massive machine type communication (mMTC) also known as massive machine communication (MMC) or massive Machine to Machine communication is a type of communication between machines over wired or wireless networks where data generation, information exchange and actuation takes place with minimal or no intervention from humans.


In radio, multiple-input and multiple-output, or MIMO, is a method for multiplying the capacity of a radio link using multiple transmit and receive antennas to exploit multipath propagation.

mmWave/ mmWave Band Technologies

Millimeter wave (also millimeter band) is the band of spectrum between 30 GigaHertz (GHz) and 300 GHz. Also known as Extremely High Frequency (EHF), it can be used for high-speed wireless broadband communications. Millimeter wave is an undeveloped band of spectrum that can be used in a broad range of products and services like high speed, point-to-point Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) and broadband access.

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)

Edge computing is a distributed information technology architecture in which data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating source as possible.

Network Latencies

Used to indicate any kind of delay that happens in data communication over a network.

Networks of Networks

Essentially networks that are connected to other networks. A popular example would be the Internet, which is a large collection of connected networks.

Neutral Host

Neutral hosts allow public LTE subscribers to connect and strengthen their signal from a private network cell.

Next Generation NodeB (gNB)

A base station in an LTE-NR radio network, 3GPP Rel15 onwards.

Open RAN

O-RAN (Open RAN) is a term used for industry-wide standards for RAN (Radio Access Network) interfaces that support interoperation between vendors’ equipment and offer network flexibility at a lower cost.  The main purpose of open RAN is to have an interoperability standard for RAN elements including non-proprietary white box hardware and software from different vendors.

Private Networks

A private network is any connection within a specified network wherein restrictions are established to promote a secured environment. This type of network can be configured in such a way that devices outside the network cannot access it.

SIM card

SIM stands for Smart card Inside a Mobile phone. These have been around since the days of 2G. The SIM card contains a series of important information such as the IMSI, security credentials, and a list of forbidden mobile networks which the device it is inserted into must not try to connect to.

Software Defined Radio (SDR)

Software-defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system where components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer or embedded system.

Small Cells

Small cells are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in licensed and unlicensed spectrum that have a range of 10 meters to a few kilometers.


Spectrum is the term used to define radio waves from low to high frequencies.  In a 5G context Spectrum refers more sepcifically to 2.1 GHz frequency which enables long range data transfer at high speed. 3.6 GHz is used for populated arears

Spectrum Sharing

Radio spectrums are usually reserved for specific use, which has caused it to become a scarce asset. Spectrum sharing allows unused frequencies within a band to be usable by other devices.  5G makes the most of sharing both 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz

TV WhiteSpace (TVWS)

White Space refers to the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum. Television networks leave gaps between channels for buffering purposes, and this space in the wireless spectrum is similar to what is used for 4G and so it can be used to deliver widespread broadband internet with spectrum sharing techniques.


An unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard.

User Equipment (UE)

A UE is a piece of end-user hardware such as a smartphone or modem that can connect to the cellular network.

UHF Radio

Ultra-high frequency (UHF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range between 300 MegaHertz (MHz) and 3 GigaHertz (GHz), also known as the decimetre band as the wavelengths range from 10cm to 1m.

Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications

(URLLC) is a set of features that provide low latency (high refresh rate) and ultra-high reliability for mission critical applications such as industrial internet, smart grids, remote surgery and intelligent transportation systems.

USRP Devices

Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) is a range of software-defined radios designed and sold by Ettus Research and its parent company, National Instruments.

Vector Network Analyser

The vector network analyser, VNA is a form of RF network analyser widely used for RF design applications. A vector network analyser is a test system that enables the RF performance of radio frequency (RF) and microwave devices to be characterised in terms of network scattering parameters, or S parameters.

Vector Signal Generator

The vector signal generators or VSG has arisen to meet the need to radio or wireless and cellular systems. These systems utilise very complicated waveforms using digital modulation. As a result, it has been necessary to develop what are termed vector signal generators or digital signal generators to be able to generate the radio frequency waveforms required.