This entry includes a brief general assessment of a country's telecommunications system with details on the domestic and international components. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry:
2G - is short for second-generation cellular network. After 2G was launched, the previous mobile wireless network systems were retroactively dubbed 1G. While radio signals on 1G networks are analog, radio signals on 2G networks are digital. Both systems use digital signaling to connect the radio towers (which listen to the devices) to the rest of the mobile system.
3G - is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. It is the upgrade for 2.5G and 2.5G GPRS networks, for faster data transfer. This increased speed is based on a set of standards used for mobile devices and mobile telecommunications use services and networks that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union. 3G finds application in wireless voice telephony, mobile Internet access, fixed wireless Internet access, video calls, and mobile TV.
4G - is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G. The first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard was commercially deployed in Oslo, Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden in 2009, and has since been deployed throughout most parts of the world. Applications, include enhanced mobile web access, IP telephony, high-definition mobile TV, and video conferencing.
5G - is the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019; it is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. Like its predecessors, 5G networks are cellular networks, in which the service area is divided into small geographical areas called cells. All 5G wireless devices in a cell are connected to the Internet and telephone network by radio waves through a local antenna in the cell. The main advantage of the new networks is that they will have greater bandwidth, allowing higher download speeds, eventually up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). Due to the increased bandwidth, the expectation is that the new networks will not just serve cellphones like existing cellular networks, but also be used as general Internet service providers for laptops and desktop computers, competing with existing ISPs such as cable Internet. Existing 4G cellphones will not be able to use the new networks, which will require new 5G-enabled wireless devices.
ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a type of digital subscriber line (DSL) that allows faster data transmission via copper service phone lines to a home or business. ADSL provides an “always on” connection and higher speeds than dial-up Internet can provide. In ADSL, bandwidth and bit rate (i.e., speed) are asymmetric, meaning greater toward the customer (downstream) than the reverse (upstream).
Arabsat - Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).
Cellular telephone system - the telephones in this system are radio transceivers, with each instrument having its own private radio frequency and sufficient radiated power to reach the booster station in its area (cell), from which the telephone signal is fed to a telephone exchange.
Central American Microwave System - a trunk microwave radio relay system that links the countries of Central America and Mexico with each other.
Coaxial cable - a multichannel communication cable consisting of a central conducting wire, surrounded by and insulated from a cylindrical conducting shell; a large number of telephone channels can be made available within the insulated space by the use of a large number of carrier frequencies.
DSL - Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a family of technologies that are used to transmit digital data over telephone lines.
Eutelsat - European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Paris).
Fiber-optic cable - a multichannel communications cable using a thread of optical glass fibers as a transmission medium in which the signal (voice, video, etc.) is in the form of a coded pulse of light.
FTTX - Fiber to the x (FTTX) is a generic term for any broadband network architecture using optical fiber to provide all or part of the local loop used for last mile telecommunications. As fiber optic cables are able to carry much more data than copper cables, especially over long distances, copper telephone networks built in the 20th century are being replaced by fiber. FTTX is a general term for several configurations of fiber deployment, broadly organized into two groups: FTTN and FTTP /H/B. Fiber to the node (FTTN), also referred to as Fiber to the neighborhood, delivers fiber to within 300m (1,000 ft) of a customer’s premises. Fiber to the premises (FTTP) can be further categorized as fiber to the home (FTTH) or fiber to the building/business (FTTB). FTTN (and FTTC, fiber to the curb (to less than 300m (1,000 ft of a customer’s premises)) are seen as interim steps toward full FTTP.
GPON - stands for Gigabyte Passive Optical Networks, which are networks that rely on optical cables to deliver information from a single feeding fiber from a provider - to multiple destinations - via the use of splitters. GPONs are currently the leading form of Passive Optical Networks (PON) and offer up to a 1:64 ratio on a single fiber. As opposed to a standard copper wire in most networks, GPONs are 95% more energy efficient.
GSM - a global system for mobile (cellular) communications devised by the Groupe Special Mobile of the pan-European standardization organization, Conference Europeanne des Posts et Telecommunications (CEPT) in 1982.
HF - high frequency; any radio frequency in the 3,000- to 30,000-kHz range.
HSPA - High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) is an amalgamation of two mobile protocols, High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), that extends and improves the performance of existing 3G mobile telecommunication networks using the WCDMA protocols. A further improved 3GPP standard, Evolved High Speed Packet Access (also known as HSPA+), was released late in 2008 with subsequent worldwide adoption beginning in 2010. The newer standard allows bit-rates to reach as high as 337 Mbit/s in the downlink and 34 Mbit/s in the uplink. However, these speeds are rarely achieved in practice.
Inmarsat - International Maritime Satellite Organization; a British satellite telecommunications company, offering global mobile services. It provides telephone and data services to users worldwide, via portable or mobile terminals that communicate with ground stations through 13 geostationary telecommunications satellites. Inmarsat’s network provides communications services to a range of governments, aid agencies, media outlets, and businesses (especially in the shipping, airline, and mining industries) with a need to communicate in remote regions or where there is no reliable terrestrial network.
Intelsat - Intelsat Corporation (formerly International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, INTEL-SAT, INTELSAT, Intelsat) is a communications satellite services provider.
Intersputnik - International Organization of Space Communications (Moscow); first established in the former Soviet Union and the East European countries, it is now marketing its services worldwide with earth stations in North America, Africa, and East Asia.
IoT - the Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical, and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Iridium - the Iridium satellite constellation provides L band voice and data information coverage to satellite phones, pagers, and integrated transceivers over the entire surface of the earth. Iridium Communications owns and operates the constellation, additionally selling equipment and access to its services.
ITU - the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a United Nations specialized agency that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. Founded in 1865, the ITU is the oldest global international organization. The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and assists in the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards. The ITU is also active in the areas of broadband Internet, latest-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology, convergence in fixed-mobile phone, Internet access, data, voice, TV broadcasting, and next-generation networks.
IXP - an Internet exchange point (IXP) is a physical location through which Internet infrastructure companies such as Internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) connect with each other.
Kacific 1 - Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) is a satellite operator providing high-speed broadband Internet service for the South East Asia and Pacific Islands regions. Its first Ka-band HTS satellite, Kacific1, was designed and built by Boeing and launched into geostationary orbit in December 2019.
Landline - communication wire or cable of any sort that is installed on poles or buried in the ground.
LTE - Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals Based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies, it increases communication capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements.
LTE Advanced - (aka LTE A) is a mobile communication standard and a major enhancement of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard. It was submitted as a candidate 4G in late 2009 as meeting the requirements of the IMT-Advanced standard, and was standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in March 2011 as 3GPP Release 10.
LTE-TDD & LTE-FDD - There are two major differences between LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD: how data is uploaded and downloaded, and what frequency spectra the networks are deployed in. While LTE-FDD uses paired frequencies to upload and download data, LTE-TDD uses a single frequency, alternating between uploading and downloading data through time. The ratio between uploads and downloads on a LTE-TDD network can be changed dynamically, depending on whether more data needs to be sent or received. LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD also operate on different frequency bands, with LTE-TDD working better at higher frequencies, and LTE-FDD working better at lower frequencies.
M-commerce - short for mobile commerce, m-commerce is the use of wireless handheld devices like cellphones and tablets to conduct commercial transactions online, including the purchase and sale of products, online banking, and paying bills.
MNO - a mobile network operator (MNO), also known as a wireless service provider, wireless carrier, cellular company, or mobile network carrier, is a provider of wireless communications services that owns or controls all the elements necessary to sell and deliver services to an end user including radio spectrum allocation, wireless network infrastructure, back haul infrastructure, billing, customer care, provisioning computer systems, and marketing and repair organizations.
MNP - mobile number portability
MVNO - a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. A MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator (MNO) to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.
Medarabtel - the Middle East Telecommunications Project of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) providing a modern telecommunications network, primarily by microwave radio relay, linking Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen; it was initially started in Morocco in 1970 by the Arab Telecommunications Union (ATU) and was known at that time as the Middle East Mediterranean Telecommunications Network.
Microwave radio relay - transmission of long distance telephone calls and television programs by highly directional radio microwaves that are received and sent on from one booster station to another on an optical path.
NMT - Nordic Mobile Telephone; NMT is a first generation (1G) mobile cellular phone system based on analog technology that was developed jointly by the national telecommunications authorities of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). NMT-450 analog networks have been replaced with digital networks using the same cellular frequencies.
Orbita - a Russian television service; also the trade name of a packet-switched digital telephone network.
PanAmSat - PanAmSat Corporation (Greenwich, CT).
Radio telephone communications - the two-way transmission and reception of sounds by broadcast radio on authorized frequencies using telephone handsets.
Satellite communication system - a communication system consisting of two or more earth stations and at least one satellite that provide long distance transmission of voice, data, and television; the system usually serves as a trunk connection between telephone exchanges; if the earth stations are in the same country, it is a domestic system.
Satellite earth station - a communications facility with a microwave radio transmitting and receiving antenna and required receiving and transmitting equipment for communicating with satellites.
Satellite link - a radio connection between a satellite and an earth station permitting communication between them, either one-way (down link from satellite to earth station - television receive-only transmission) or two-way (telephone channels).
SHF - super high frequency; any radio frequency in the 3,000- to 30,000-MHz range.
Shortwave - radio frequencies (from 1.605 to 30 MHz) that fall above the commercial broadcast band and are used for communication over long distances.
SIM card - subscriber identity/identification module card, is a small, removable integrated circuit used in a mobile phone to store data unique to the user, such as an identification number, passwords, phone numbers, and messages.
Solidaridad - geosynchronous satellites in Mexico's system of international telecommunications in the Western Hemisphere.
Spectrum - spectrum management is the allocation and regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum into radio frequency (RF) bands, a procedure normally carried out by governments in most countries. Because radio propagation does not stop at national boundaries, governments have sought to harmonise the allocation of RF bands and their standardization. A spectrum auction is a process whereby a government uses an auction system to sell the rights to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and to assign scarce spectrum resources.
Submarine cable - a cable designed for service under water.
Telecommunication (telecom) - is the exchange of signs, signals, messages, words, images and sounds, or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical, or other electromagnetic systems (i.e., via the use of technology). Telecommunication occurs through a transmission medium, such as over physical media, for example, over electrical cable; or via electromagnetic radiation through space such as radio or light.
Teledensity - (telephone density) is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely between nations and also between urban and rural areas within a country. Telephone density correlates closely with the per capita GDP of an area, and is also used as an indicator of the purchasing power of the middle class of a country or specific region.
Telefax - facsimile service between subscriber stations via the public switched telephone network or the international Datel network.
Telegraph - a telecommunications system designed for unmodulated electric impulse transmission.
Telephony - is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone.
Telex - a communication service involving teletypewriters connected by wire through automatic exchanges.
Tropospheric scatter - a form of microwave radio transmission in which the troposphere is used to scatter and reflect a fraction of the incident radio waves back to earth. Powerful, highly directional antennas are used to transmit and receive the microwave signals. Reliable over-the-horizon communications are realized for distances up to 600 miles in a single hop; additional hops can extend the range of this system for very long distances.
Trunk network - a network of switching centers, connected by multichannel trunk lines.
UHF - ultra high frequency; any radio frequency in the 300- to 3,000-MHz range.
VHF - very high frequency; any radio frequency in the 30- to 300-MHz range.
VNO - A virtual network operator (VNO) is a management services provider and a network services reseller of other telecommunication service providers. VNOs do not possess a telecom network infrastructure; however, they provide telecom services by acquiring the required capacity from other telecom carriers. These network providers are classified as virtual because they offer network services to clients without possessing the actual network. VNOs usually lease bandwidth at agreed wholesale rates from different telecom providers and then offer solutions to their direct customers.
VOD - or video on demand is a video media distribution system that allows users to access video entertainment without a traditional video entertainment device and without the constraints of a typical static broadcasting schedule.
Voice over Internet Protocol - VoIP, also called IP telephony, refers to the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms Internet telephony, broadband telephony, and broadband phone service specifically refer to the provisioning of communications services (voice, fax, text-messaging, voice-messaging) over the public Internet, rather than via the public switched telephone network (PSTN), also known as plain old telephone service (POTS).
VSAT - a VSAT (very-small-aperture terminal) is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that is smaller than 3.8 meters. The majority of VSAT antennas range from 75 cm to 1.2 m. Data rates, generally, range from 4 kbit/s up to 16 Mbit/s.
WiMAX - stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access; it is a family of wireless broadband communication standards based on the IEEE 802.16 set of standards, which provide multiple physical layer (PHY) and Media Access Control (MAC) options.