Broadband jargon buster: all the confusing jargon explained!

Baffled by broadband jargon? We explain the A-Z in plain language in this glossary that everybody will be able to understand

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(Image credit: Frank Ramspott/Getty)

Do you know your ADSL from your IP address? With so much broadband jargon to get to grips with, it’s not surprising you’re feeling confused.

Here’s our A-Z guide of some of the technical broadband terms that you might come across, and what they mean.


ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL). If you have an ADSL broadband connection, your internet connection will be provided through home telephone lines, which means you’ll need to pay a monthly rental charge to Openreach.

ADSL broadband connections aren’t as fast as fibre optic broadband, but usually provide a reliable connection.


Bandwidth is essentially a measure of how much data can be transferred over an internet connection in a set amount of time. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can be used at any one time.


Broadband is a fast internet connection which enables you to bring the internet signal into your home.

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Bundled package 

When you buy a bundled broadband package, you get your home phone, broadband and digital TV from the same provider, or you choose to receive two of these services as a ‘bundle’.

Contract termination fees 

If you want to leave your broadband contract before the end of its term, you’ll be charged a ‘contract termination’ fee. 

This fee will usually be equivalent to all the monthly subscription charges you would have paid if you’d seen the contract through to the end.

Download limit 

The download limit refers to the maximum of data you can download each month. Charges will usually apply if you exceed this limit. 

Many providers now offer packages which provide unlimited data so you can download as much as you want without incurring extra costs.

Fibre optic 

Fibre optic broadband involves your data being transmitted via fibre optic cables. 

Speeds are usually much faster than those available from ADSL connections, but fibre optic isn’t available in all areas, particularly rural locations.


Broadband data is measured in data measured i, Kilobytes (KB) Megabytes (Mb) and Gigabytes (Gb) There are 1000 bytes in a kilobyte (KB), 1000 kilobytes in a megabyte (MB), and 1000 megabytes in a gigabyte. 

IP address 

In the same way that you have a postal address which is used to let people know where you live, your internet protocol, or IP address, is essentially your computer’s address in numeric form. 

This address notifies your network where it should send data to.


Like kilobytes and gigabytes, megabytes are used to describe the amount of data that a file takes up, with one megabyte equivalent to 1000 kilobytes. 

The more data you use the bigger download limit you’ll need, although many packages now come with unlimited data.


Modem is short for 'modulator-demodulator'. It is a piece of hardware that connects to your internet service provider so that you can access the internet.


A router essentially takes information from the modem and ‘routes’ it to computers and other devices that use the internet in your home. 

Sometimes your provider will provide one box that includes both a modem and a router, but they aren’t always integrated.

Set up or installation fees 

When you sign up to a new broadband provider and broadband equipment is installed in your home, you may have to pay a set-up fee, although plenty of providers don’t charge. 

Set-up fees when they do apply usually cost from £20 up to around £50.

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