Introduction: Definitions

Describing a Telecommunications Network

There are multiple ways to describe the different elements of a telecommunications network and different sources sometimes utilise different labels. For the purposes of this Solutions Guide, the follow terms are utilised: National backbone (or core) network: This connects international Internet traffic (usually through undersea or terrestrial fibre-optic cables) via submarine cable landing stations (or terrestrial gateways for land borders) to the national high-speed, high-capacity backbone network connecting the country’s bigger cities and major population centres. A country’s core network provides the first layer of overall network redundancy in case there are breaks between core network PoPs and data centres. Middle-mile network, or backhaul: This is the distribution network that connects the national backbone to a point in an outer locality/geographic area for broader distribution out to the last-mile network. Last-mile or access network: This is where the Internet reaches end users, and includes the local access network, including the local loop, central office, exchanges and wireless masts. The access network reaches end-user devices, typically basic and smartphones, laptops, tablets, computers and other Internet-enabled devices. In this Solutions Guide, “last mile” is synonymous with “first mile”, as localities are in many cases themselves actively building the infrastructure links needed to connect to the broader global communication network.