So what do all those acronyms mean?

OK, so you are new to wireless and you start to read an article that is filled with acronyms that just do not make sense to you. PC Magazine produced a glossary of wireless terms and acronyms that will be a big help to the “newbie” (and the oldie too!).

AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)

A federal information-coding protocol that ensures privacy via 128-, 192-, and 256-bit keys. AES is part of the forthcoming 802.11i specification.


Intel’s wireless mobile technology, which integrates the company’s Pentium M chip, its 855 chipset, and the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100—an 802.11b wireless solution.

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)

A standard that enables individual computers on an IP network to retrieve their IP addresses and other settings from a server on demand.

DMZ (demilitarized zone)

A small network inserted as a neutral area between a company’s private network and the outside public network. It provides indirect access to internal resources.


A proposed IEEE standard that defines quality of service for various types of applications, whether data, video, or voice, that run on wireless networks.


A proposed IEEE standard that would provide added security specific to wireless LANs.


An IEEE WLAN standard, proposed for release in 2005 or 2006, which is expected to reach speeds between 100 and 320 Mbps.

Enhanced-performance 802.11g

A blanket term for various proprietary technologies that boost throughput of 802.11g devices by implementing methods such as frame bursting, channel trunking (or bonding), and shortening the preamble.

Frame bursting

A technology created to enhance 802.11g performance by allowing the transmission of more data packets (carried in frames) in a given amount of time.

MAC (media-access control)

address A hard-coded or permanent address applied to hardware at the factory.

NAT (Network Address Translation)

A security technique—generally applied by a router—that makes many different IP addresses on an internal network appear to the Internet as a single address. Thus, the specifics of the internal network remain hidden.


A preliminary signal that network hardware transmits to control signal detection and clock synchronization in a wired or wireless network.

RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service)

An authentication and accounting system that verifies users’ credentials and grants access to requested resources.


Moving from one access point to another in a WLAN with uninterrupted connections.


A device that links two discrete networks and forwards packets between them. A router uses a networking protocol such as IP to address and direct packets flowing into and out of its network. A home or small-office router often includes a four-port switch, which handles moving data inside the network from one device to another.

Shared key

An encryption key known only to the receiver and sender of data.

SPI (stateful packet inspection)

A type of firewall that uses either a predefined or an editable rule set to determine whether packets are going to be forwarded or denied.

SSID (service set identifier)

A unique 32-character password that is assigned to every WLAN device and detected when one device sends data packets to another.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol)

A connectionless protocol that runs on top of IP networks. Unlike TCP/IP, UDP/IP provides very few error recovery services. Instead, it offers a direct way to send and receive datagrams over an IP network. UDP is used primarily for broadcasting messages over a network.

UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)

An architecture that allows easy connection between PCs and other devices using TCP/IP and a derivative of HTTP. It lets each device automatically acquire a network address and announce its presence to other devices on the network.