ANNEX 1: GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
is a technology that allows the use of a copper line to send a
large quantity of data (eg a television picture) in one direction
and a small quantity (eg a control channel) in the other. Unlike
regular dialup phone service, ADSL provides continuously available,
'always on' connection. ADSL is asymmetric in that it uses most
of the channel to transmit downstream to the user and only a small
part to receive information from the user. The same line can be
used for both voice and ADSL connections simultaneously. It is
one of a family of DSL technologies.
BBC Board of Governors are the trustees of the public interest
in the BBC ensuring that the organisation is properly accountable
while maintaining its independence. It is the Governors' responsibility
to ensure that the BBC is properly regulated, is on the right
strategic course and is effectively managed.
Bandwidth indicates the capacity available to transfer
information. In analogue systems, it is measured in Hertz and
in digital systems in binary digits (bits) per second. The greater
the bandwidth is, the faster the end user will receive the information
they require or obtain access to the service that they are trying
to connect to.
BSkyB refers to British Sky Broadcasting plc.
BT refers to British Telecommunications plc.
Broadband is generally defined as a bandwidth of greater
than 2 Mbits/s. Broadband communications networks can carry large
amounts of information eg voice, video information and data channels
Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) is the statutory
body for both standards and fairness in broadcasting. It is the
only organisation within the regulatory framework of UK broadcasting
to cover all television and radio, both terrestrial and satellite.
This includes text, cable and digital services. It has three main
tasks, as established by the Broadcasting Act 1996. These are
to produce codes of conduct relating to standards and fairness,
to consider and adjudicate on complaints and to monitor, research
and report on standards and fairness in broadcasting.
Conditional Access System is a system to restrict access
to a service to those who meet the conditions, e.g. consumers
who have paid to receive a service, or who live in a given geographical
Convergence is a term used to describe the combining of
personal computers, telecommunications and television. It means
that providers of communication systems can deliver products and
services that compete with products and services now delivered
by other networks. Convergence is not just a technology issue,
but also an issue of culture and life style. For the end user,
this can mean increasing choice in the equipment that can be used
to carry out a particular task. For instance, an Internet TV can
combine some of the functions of a radio, TV, PC and phone.
Coregulation refers to the situation where the regulator
and industry stakeholders work together with, typically, the regulator
setting the framework to work within. It may be left to the industry
stakeholders to draft detailed rules within this framework and
to take responsibility for implementation and enforcement. Incentives
for cooperation are often in the form of strong fallback
powers for the regulator.
Digital divide is the potential for division in society
into people who do and people who don't have access to
and the capability to use modern information technology,
such as the telephone, email, television, or the Internet.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology refers to a family
of technologies generically referred to as DSL, or xDSL, capable
of transforming ordinary phone lines into highspeed digital
lines, capable of supporting advanced services such as fast Internet
access and videoondemand. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Line), HDSL (High data rate Digital Subscriber
Line) and VDSL (Very high data rate Digital Subscriber Line) are
all variants of xDSL.
Digital switchover is the switchover from analogue to digital
television broadcasting, involving the cessation of analogue transmission.
It is mainly used in the context of terrestrial broadcasting.
Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television
signals as digital rather than conventional analogue signals.
Advantages of DTV over analogue TV include superior image resolution
(detail) and audio quality for an equivalent bandwidth, and consistent
Fixed wireless access is a way of providing a fixed telephone
service without a fully wired connection. Instead the telephone
signals are sent over air between small transmitters and receivers.
Since no holes in the ground have to be dug, it is generally cheaper
to roll out than a wired system.
Freetoair television service is a service that
can be received without charge to the viewer. Normally, such services
are broadcast in the clear (i.e.unscrambled). However, some services
are broadcast in scrambled or encrypted form in order to limit
access to viewers in a specific geographic area. Such services,
which have no charge for the conditional access service, are also
regarded as freetoair.
Incumbent Operator usually refers to the former monopoly
public telephone operator that was often owned by the government
of the country in question. In the UK, it was BT.
ITC refers to the Independent Television Commission.
Internet is a worldwide system of linked computer networks
enabling users of any of the host computers to get information
from any other host computer (and sometimes communicate directly
with other users). The links between computers may be local, or
longdistance links over telecommunication networks. Technically,
what distinguishes the Internet is its use of a communication
protocol called IP.
Local loop unbundling (LLU) is a term used to describe
the process by which local exchange carriers are legally obliged
to sell or lease portions of their local loop network to other
service providers. The effect of this for the end user in the
UK will be that they will be able to receive a whole range of
services directly to their home from a variety of suppliers other
LRSL is a longterm restricted service licence that
is issued for the broadcasting of radio services by the Radio
Authority, predominantly for hospital and student radio stations
(see also RSL).
Mobile telephony provides overair interconnection
with and between users on the move.
OFT means the Office of Fair Trading.
Oftel means the Office of Telecommunications.
PC means personal computer.
Public service broadcasting has been at the heart of UK
broadcasting throughout most of the last century. Its goals are
education, information and entertainment for all and this has
informed the whole structure of broadcasting regulation. It still
has a major role as the benchmark of quality in broadcasting,
as a source of creative energy, driven by more than commercial
considerations, and as a place to nurture talent and skills.
Radio Authority is the Authority which regulates and licenses
independent radio broadcasting in the UK, that is to say all nonBBC
RA is the Radiocommunications Agency that is an Executive
Agency of the DTI. It is responsible for the allocation, maintenance
and supervision of the UK radio spectrum.
Rate card means a published price list. In this White Paper
it refers specifically to a document that BSkyB is legally obliged
to publish from time to time. It essentially shows the fee payable
by the cable operators in respect of residential subscribers for
cable carriage of each Ratecard Channel, and details of any discount.
RSL is a restricted service licence that is issued by the
ITC for the broadcasting of television programmes, or by the Radio
Authority for the broadcasting of radio programmes, for a particular
establishment or location or for a particular event, subject to
the availability of analogue frequencies.
S4C is Sianel Pedwar Cymru. The S4C Authority is responsible
for ensuring that the performance of S4C as a broadcaster, whose
core mission is to provide Welsh language programmes, meets the
statutory requirements. The S4C Authority establishes S4C's strategic
aims, objectives and broad priorities, monitors performance and
regulates the discharge of these objectives by S4C as a broadcaster.
Satellite broadcasting/communications rely on a communications
relay device orbiting in space to permit communications between
terminals on earth e.g. TV receivers or satellite mobile phones.
Satellites have the advantage of beaming signals to a very wide
area without the need for hundreds of groundbased transmitters.
Sectoral/sectorspecific regulation refers to regulation
that is specific to a particular industry or sector (e.g. telecommunications
sector; broadcasting sector) in contrast to regulation which applies
to all sectors of the economy (e.g. Competition Act 1998).
Selfregulation refers to processes whereby stakeholders
(predominantly the industry) take the initiative to set standards
for the benefit of consumers. The Government (or regulator) need
not have any formal involvement.
Settop box is a device that enables a television
set to receive and decode signals transmitted in a form which
the set was not originally designed to receive. In general, conventional
analogue televisions require a settop box for cable and
satellite TV and all digital transmissions, whether cable, satellite
or terrestrial. Settop boxes are also available which, when
connected to the telephone line or cable, can enable a television
set to become an Internet terminal.
Spectrum is a continuous range of frequencies of electromagnetic
radiation (for example radio waves).
Telecommunications Act means the Telecommunications Act
1984, as amended, which governs the licensing, operation and regulation
of telecommunications in the UK.
Third generation (3G) mobile telephony refers to the new
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. This will provide
an enhanced range of multimedia services to mobile phones such
as high speed Internet access and video.
UK independent productions quota refers to the requirement
under the Broadcasting Act 1990 that the BBC, ITV companies, Channel
4 and Channel 5 devote at least 25% of the time allocated to qualifying
programmes (broadly excluding news, acquired programmes and repeats)
to the broadcasting of a range and diversity of independent productions.
Vertical integration refers to a situation where a single
company is active in more than one stage in the production and
supply of a good or service. For example, a network operator might
also provide enhanced services that are carried over the network
or supply the consumer equipment needed to gain access to services
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a standard way for
wireless devices, such as cellular telephones and radio receivers,
to gain access to the Internet. It can support email, the
World Wide Web, news groups, and Internet Relay Chat.