- The definitions of networking terms included below are not intended
to be technically rigorous but will serve to provide the necessary
understanding for the purposes of this report. Terms in italics
have a glossary entry of their own.
- ATM Asynchronous Transfer Mode: a communications
network using ATM technology enables multimedia services of all
kinds to be delivered at high rates of use.
- bandwidth A term used to describe how much data you
can send through a connection to the Internet, measured in bits
per second (or, more usually, kilobits per second or megabits
- bit The basic unit of information used by
computers: the status 0 or 1 in the binary number system.
- broadband A transmission medium capable of
supporting a wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video
- broadband switching The ability to direct traffic
around a broadband network to a variety of locations, as opposed
to using point-to-point facilities.
- browser Software used to access information from
the World Wide Web.
- bursty Data transmission across a communications
network is described as a 'bursty' if, rather than a steady flow
of data, periods of inactivity are followed by a big burst of traffic.
Modern networks can be designed to handle this pattern of traffic in an
efficient and cost-effective manner.
- cache A server used to hold a local copy of
frequently accessed information so that it does not have to be retrieved
from the network - particularly, in the context of this report, as a
means of managing access to Internet sites more efficiently.
- connectivity The state of being interconnected.
- dial-up services Services accessed by using
telephone lines or ISDN networks to connect a computer to the
- domain The part of the Internet address
that specifies a computer's location in the world. The address is
written as a series of names separated by full stops. Some of the most
common top-level domains are:
- .ac.uk academic and research (UK)
- .com commercial (US)
- .co.uk UK company
- .edu education (US)
- .gov public bodies
- .mod Ministry of Defence
- .net network resource
- eLib The Electronic Libraries programme, set up by
JISC to bring about pragmatic technology and communications
solutions to improve the range and quality of HE library
services in the electronic age.
- e-mail Electronic mail: an electronic means of
communication in which (a) usually text is transmitted, (b) operations
include sending, storing, processing, and receiving information, (c)
users are allowed to communicate under specified conditions, and (d)
messages are held in storage until called for by the addressee.
- Ethernet A cable-based system of communication for
local area networks that prevents more than one computer
transmitting at a time.
- extranet A network formed by connecting an
intranet to another network - for example, when two companies
decide to share information about design and supply.
- FE Further education.
- FEFC Further Education Funding Council.
- firewall machine A dedicated gateway
machine with special security precautions on it, used to service outside
a network, especially Internet connections and dial-in
lines. The idea is to protect a cluster of more loosely administered
machines hidden behind it.
- gateway 1. In a communications network, a
network node equipped for interfacing with another network that
uses different communication conventions. 2. Loosely, a computer
configured to perform the tasks of a gateway.
- HE Higher education.
- HEFC Higher Education Funding Council.
- HTML HyperText Mark-up Language: the software
language used to create Web documents.
- HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol: the standard way
of transferring HTML documents between Web servers and
- hypertext link On Web sites, an instant way
of going to another site with related content - usually by clicking on
an icon (or symbol).
- ICT Information and communication technology.
- information superhighway A 'network of
networks', combining a range of computer and telecommunications networks
and services. The ability, through appropriate technology, to link
individual libraries, schools and homes with the high-speed broadband
networks will make available a new range of information and multimedia
- interactive A term describing the exchanging of
information between users on a network or between users and the
network host. The commonest such interaction is a telephone call.
- interface A boundary across which two systems
communicate. An interface might be a hardware connector used to link to
other devices, or it might be a convention used to allow communication
between two software systems.
- (The) Internet A worldwide interconnection of
individual networks operated by government, industry, academia and
private parties. The Internet originally served to interconnect
laboratories engaged in government research, but has now been expanded
to serve millions of users and a multitude of purposes.
- Internet service providers (ISPs) Companies that
provide a service to consumers and businesses such that they can access
the Internet, use e-mail, and use other Internet-based
services (for example, home shopping). ISPs also provide services that
include help with design, creation and administration of Web sites,
training, and administration of intranets.
- intranet An intranet uses Internet
communication conventions and applications over an internal,
password-controlled company network.
- ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network: an
international-standard public network supporting a wide range of
applications based on voice, image, text, video and data - all over one
- ISP Internet service provider.
- JANET Joint Academic Network: the wide area
network which links UK academic and research institutes, providing
connectivity within the community as well as access to external
services and other communities.
- JISC The Joint Information Systems Committee of the
Higher Education Funding Council.
- kilobits per second (kb/s) Thousands of bits
per second - a unit of information transfer rate.
- LIC Library and Information Commission.
- local area network (LAN) A data communications
system that (a) lies within a limited spatial area, (b) has a specific
user group, (c) has a specific topology, and (d) is not a public
switched telecommunications network, but may be connected to
- LANs are usually restricted to relatively small areas, such as rooms,
buildings, ships and aircraft. They are not subject to public
- An interconnection of LANs over a city-wide geographical area is
commonly called a metropolitan area network (MAN). An
interconnection of LANs over large geographical areas, such as
nationwide, is commonly called a wide area network (WAN).
- managed network service A service where the
customer chooses to buy in the administration and management of their
network; the customer can contract for the required quality of
service, and leave how it is achieved up to the supplier.
- megabits per second (Mb/s) Millions of bits
per second - a unit of information transfer rate; for example, Ethernet
can carry 10 Mb/s.
- metropolitan area network See under local area
- multicasting In a network, a technique that
allows data to be simultaneously transmitted to a selected set of
- multimedia Pertaining to the processing and
integrated presentation of information in more than one form - for
example, video, voice, music, animated graphics, or data.
- National Grid for Learning A term used in the 1997
Labour Party manifesto: 'For the internet we plan a National Grid for
Learning, franchised as a public/private partnership, which will bring
to teachers up-to-date materials to enhance their skills, and to
children high-quality educational materials.'
- network An interconnection of three or more
- NHSnet A UK-wide information network for
the National Health Service, used, among other things, to disseminate
systematic reviews of research.
- NVQ National Vocational Qualification.
- Ofsted Office for Standards in Education.
- OFTEL Office of Telecommunications.
- open standards Publicly maintained, readily
available standards that are not owned or specified by a single
commercial organisation and so can be used widely.
- PFI Private Finance Initiative: a means by which
public-sector projects are financed and developed by the private sector
for an agreed reward.
- server A central computer which provides some
service for other computers connected to it via a network. The
most common example is a file server, which has a local disc and
services requests from remote users to read and write files on that
- smartcard A plastic card (like a credit card) with
an embedded integrated circuit for storing information. One use is as a
form of token in banking systems; electronic money is stored on the
card. The idea is that one smartcard is easier to carry around than a
multitude of paper tokens or tickets.
- SMDS Switched Multi-megabit Data Service: an
emerging high-speed public data network service developed by
Bellcore and expected to be widely used by telephone companies as the
basis for their data networks.
- SuperJANET An initiative started in 1989 with the
aim of developing a national broadband network to support UK
higher education and research.
- SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification.
- switched network A communications network,
such as the public switched telephone network, in which any user may be
connected to any other user through the use of message, circuit, or
packet switching and control devices.
- TECs Training and Enterprise Councils.
- University for Industry One of the new government's
proposals for education: 'we will be publishing detailed proposals for a
University for Industry, which will harness information technology to
help people develop skills for their present job and the skills they
need to go on to other jobs. Acting as a public/private partnership, it
will also help enterprises deliver training and learning in new ways.
Our aim is to provide low-cost packages to firms and individuals - on
disk, CD-rom or online' (David Blunkett).
- videoconference A two-way electronic communications
system that permits two or more persons in different locations to engage
in the equivalent of face-to-face audio and video communications. At its
simplest, a phone call with pictures.
- virtual reality A computer-generated simulated
environment with which users can interact using specialised peripherals
such as data gloves and head-mounted computer-graphic displays.
- (The) Web The World Wide Web.
- Web server A server process running a Web site
which sends out Web pages in response to requests.
- Web site Any computer on the Internet
running a server process for the World Wide Web.
- wide area network See under local area network.
- World Wide Web (WWW) Also known as 'the Web', this
is the generic name given to all of the hypertext-based HTML
documents on the Internet. These documents have links to each
other and are accessible from HTTP or Web servers.The
WWW has been the application which has most contributed to the Net's
Report converted to HTML and hosted by
on behalf of the Library and Information
Email technical queries on this website to