Wireless Glossary

“A” Carrier or Non-Wireline Cellular Company

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up the licensing and regulatory rules for wireless, they decided to license two wireless systems in each market. It reserved one for the local telephone company and opened a second system – the Block A system – to other interested applicants. The distinction between Block A and Block B was meaningful only during the licensing phase at the FCC. Once a system is constructed, it can be sold to anyone. Thus in some markets today, both the A and B systems are owned by telephone companies – one happens to be the local phone company for the area and the other is a phone company that decided to buy a wireless system outside its home territory. See also “B” Carrier.


The programming of a wireless phone so that it can be used to transmit and receive calls.

Activation Fee

Fee for activation of a wireless phone.

Alphanumeric Display

A message or other type of readout containing both letters (“alphas”) and numbers (“numerics”). On a wireless phone, “alphanumeric memory dial” is a special type of dial-from-memory option that displays both the name of the individual and that individual’s phone number on the handset. The name also can be recalled by using the letters on the phone keypad.


Analog technology transmits voice over airwaves to wireless cell sites, much like a radio broadcast.


A device for transmitting and receiving signals. In a wireless system, antennae are mounted on radio structures at cell sites; smaller ones are mounted on automobiles as part of a mobile phone installation, and directly on wireless phones.

Authorized Agent

An independent distributor legally authorized by Chariton Valley Wireless to sell its products and services.

Automatic Dialing

A feature that allows wireless phone users to dial pre-programmed phone numbers by pushing one or two buttons. Also known as speed dialing.

ANI (Automatic Number Identification)

ANI is a service that provides the receiver of a telephone call with the number of the calling phone. See also E911

Automatic Payment Service

Chariton Valley Wireless’s Automated Payment Service allows you to pay your wireless bill easily by automatically charging your bill to your credit card each month. View our other convenient payments options.

“B” Carrier or Wireline Cellular Company

Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) initial wireless licensing procedures, the Block B carrier was the local telephone company’s licensee. The FCC reserved one of the two systems in every wireless market for the local telephone (wireline) company. With initial licensing complete, the distinction has slowly disappeared. The local phone company can sell its wireless system to anyone. See also “A” Carrier

Bag Phone

A bag phone, also called a transportable phone, can be plugged into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter for power. Often called a bag phone because of its soft carrying pouch, it’s powered by a battery when used like a portable phone.


The amount of data that can be passed along a communications channel in a given period of time.

Battery Pack

The source of power for portable and bag (transportable) phones.


The name for a technological standard (a communications protocol) that enables mobile devices equipped with a special chip to send and receive information wirelessly. Using Bluetooth, electronic devices such as desktop computers, wireless phones, electronic organizers and printers can communicate over short-ranges using the 2.4 GHz spectrum band. Some of Chariton Valley Wireless’s phones are Bluetooth-enabled, meaning that if you use it together with a Bluetooth headset purchased from a Chariton Valley Wireless, you can use your phone hands-free with no cords.

BREWTM(Binary Runtime Environment for WirelessTM)

Developed by QUALCOMM, BREWTM is the technology that enables Phones to download, install and run a variety of entertaining, informative and productive applications.


Referring or pertaining to an analog circuit that provides more bandwidth than a voice grade telephone line, i.e., a circuit that operates at a frequency of 20KHz or greater. Broadband channels are used for high-speed voice and data communications, radio and television broadcasting, some local and data networks, and many other services. See also narrowband
Call Forwarding

A feature that enables a subscriber to program all incoming calls to be routed to another phone number.

Caller ID

A feature that displays a caller’s name and/or number on your phone display. The name and/or number is displayed only if you have placed it in your directory.

Call Waiting

A feature that notifies the user of an incoming call while a call is already in progress. A short tone signals that another call is on the line and the user has the ability to put the first call on hold and answer the incoming call.

Cancellation Fee

A fee applied for early termination of a service plan.


CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access, is a wireless digital technology in which a unique code is assigned to each word in a conversation. These codes are scrambled and sent over a wireless channel from one wireless phone to another. CDMA’s unique coding structure filters all the codes and reassembles them in the correct order so that significantly more people can carry on a separate conversation on the same frequency without causing interference or static. 1XRTT is the next generation of CDMA technology.


A geographical area, four to 20 miles, surrounding a radio antenna designated for wireless transmission.

Cell Site

An arrangement of wires and metal rods used in transmitting and receiving radio waves. In a wireless system, antennae are mounted on radio structures at cell sites. Smaller ones are mounted on automobiles as part of a mobile phone installation and directly on portable and transportable wireless phones.


A channel is a path along which a communications signal is transmitted.


A measure of the number of subscribers who leave or switch to another carrier’s service.


The act of programming a wireless phone with stolen or duplicated electronic serial and mobile identification numbers.

Conference Calling

A feature that enables Chariton Valley Wireless subscribers to add a third person to their conversation. Also known as 3-party calling.


A geographic area containing the cell sites that enable a wireless phone user to make and receive calls. Each cell site has an antenna with the ability to send and receive signals. A coverage area is determined by the number and location of cell sites in the surrounding area. As new sites are added, calling areas are expanded and call clarity is improved.


A holder or casing in which a wireless phone user places his or her wireless phone.


An advanced type of radio transmission that broadcasts voice or data intact via radio waves, which allows for greater call clarity, advanced wireless features and improved voice capacity. The industry uses three types of digital technology: TDMA, CDMA and GSM.

Directory Assistance Call Completion

A feature that enables a Chariton Valley Wireless subscriber to dial 411 from their wireless phone and be automatically connected to the requested phone number for only $1.25 (plus airtime and applicable long-distance charges).

Device Protection

Device Protection for your wireless phone that covers loss, theft and damage. Chariton Valley Wireless offers Device Protection for a small monthly fee, which will repair or replace your phone quickly.


A term used to describe the process of installing and running an application on your Chariton Valley Wireless Phone. You must first get the application from Chariton Valley Wireless’s network. This is done by launching the Chariton Valley Wireless Download Shop icon on your Chariton Valley Wireless Phone and selecting the desired application(s).

Dropped Call

A call may be “dropped” or disconnected because of a dead or low-charged battery, faulty or poorly connected vehicular antennas, weather conditions or by driving out of a service area. Interference and varying levels of signal strength may also be experienced when traveling near the boundaries of a service area and in enclosed structures such as parking garages, tunnels and elevators.


A dual-band wireless handset works on both 800 MHz wireless and 1900 MHz PCS frequencies.


Dual-mode refers to a wireless phone that works on both analog and digital networks. Dual-mode phones enable subscribers to use their digital phones in areas that do not have digital coverage.


Wireless 911 service provides the automatic number identification (ANI) and automatic location information of a wireless phone used to contact a 911 call center. This information makes it easier and faster for police and rescue service workers to locate someone in distress who is calling from a wireless phone.


The process of “scrambling” a message such as a digital phone signal to prevent it from being read by unauthorized parties.

ESN (Electronic Serial Number)

The unique number assigned by the manufacturer and encrypted on the microchip of every wireless phone. The number is entered into the Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) and used to identify and track a specific wireless phone. ESNs can be electronically checked to help prevent fraud.

End Key

A button on a wireless phone that, when pressed, disconnects a call.

Extended Home Service Area

The area outside the home service area where calls are billed as local calls. This coverage is unavailable with certain calling plans.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

An independent federal agency of the U.S. government, authorized by the Communications Act of 1934, responsible for managing private and commercial communications spectrum and regulating communications services in the United States. Visit the FCC Web site.


The area in which a wireless service provider has operations.


Activity in which a wireless phone user intentionally programs a wireless phone to make and receive phone calls without paying for them.

Free Incoming Calls

Free Incoming Calls enable you to receive calls from anyone, anywhere, anytime within your calling area without using your calling plan’s minutes.


A certain “size” of radio wave: The rate at which the electric and magnetic fields of a radio wave vibrate per second.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

Satellite-based navigational system used in personal tracking, navigation and automatic vehicle location technologies.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)

A digital communication technology used by some carriers to provide PCS service. Other technologies used are CDMA and TDMA. Google Play Favorite music, books, apps, and games are all in one place that’s accessible for the Web and any Android device. Learn more.

Hands-Free Device

Any product or service that enables the safe use of wireless phones, thus limiting any distractions while driving or during other activities. Products and services include belt clips, holsters, headsets, speaker phones and speed dialing. Shop for your hands-free devices at Chariton Valley Wireless’s retail stores.


The transfer of a wireless phone call from one cell site to the next, as a vehicle travels between cells.


Another term for wireless phone.

Home Service Area

The area in which you subscribe to Chariton Valley Wireless service is referred to as your home service area.

In-Use Indicator

A small light on the handset of a wireless phone that illuminates whenever a call is in progress.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)

Advanced, high-capacity wireless technology used for high-speed data transfer.

International Services

International Services consists of two services. With International Dialing, customers can call over 200 countries. With International Text Messaging, customers can text message to over 100 countries. Carriers to whom you can text to are limited to the major carriers in that country. Chariton Valley current doesn’t support International Services.

Key Pad

Number and function buttons located on the front of a wireless phone; the user presses the key pad numbers to place a call.

Kilobytes (KB) and Megabytes (MB)

Unlike voice calls which are charged by airtime minutes, My Browse Wireless Services are charged by the amount of digital information sent to and from your phone. These “chunks” of digital information are measured in units and called Kilobytes and Megabytes. A typical digital picture on your Phone measures about 15 Kilobytes. A Megabyte is the larger of the two units of measure and is equal to approximately 1,000 Kilobytes.

Landline Phone

A traditional phone used in businesses and homes with service provided by the local telephone company.


Chariton Valley Wireless provides affordable wireless service by participating in the Federal Universal Service Fund program exclusively for qualifying low income individuals and Native Americans. Learn more about our Lifeline program.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

The flat screen on a wireless phone that displays numbers and/or characters.

Local Applications

Local applications are those applications that, once downloaded, operate completely within the phone with no additional interaction with the Chariton Valley Wireless network. Examples of local applications include many of the sports games and classic games that are available for Phones. Such applications do not incur recurring network usage fees beyond the initial downloads and configuration process. The opposite of a local application is a network application.

Lock Indicator

A small light on a wireless phone that illuminates when the keypad is locked.

Lock Key

A special security key on the handset that, when pressed, prevents a caller from making unauthorized outbound calls.

Memory (Phone Memory)

Chariton Valley Wireless Phones are equipped with storage capacity so that applications and data files (ringtones, pictures, etc.) can be stored on the phone. The amount of storage capacity varies from phone to phone and can affect the total number of applications that are active on your phone at any given time.

MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area)

Designated by the U.S. government, an MSA denotes a wireless geographic area with a large population base.

MIDI Ringtones (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)

MIDI ringtones are simple, monophonic (single) tone recordings of songs. Their sound is not as realistic as the newer polyphonic (multiple) ringtones which are created when multiple instruments have been recreated simultaneously.

MIN (Mobile Identification Number)

A wireless phone’s unique 10-digit “phone number.” This is different from the electronic serial number, which is the unit number assigned by a phone manufacturer. MINs and ESNs can be electronically checked to help prevent fraud.

Mobile or Car Phone

A mobile phone is an installed wireless car phone that draws its power from the car’s battery. Its external antenna can be mounted on the roof, trunk or any window.

Mobile to Mobile

Mobile to Mobile is a feature that allows Chariton Valley Wireless Mobile to Mobile subscribers to communicate with other Chariton Valley Wireless subscribers within their mobile to mobile coverage area at a reduced rate.

Mobile to Mobile Minutes

Mobile to Mobile minutes enable Mobile to Mobile subscribers to make and receive calls between other Chariton Valley Wireless Mobile to Mobile subscribers without using anytime minutes.

MTSO (Mobile Telephone Switching Office)

The central office computerized switching equipment that coordinates and controls the routing and completion of calls in a cellular system. The MTSO connects the cellular system to the wired telephone network.

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Services)

The next generation of text messaging. In addition to text, audio-visual content can be exchanged allowing much richer messages including, photography, voice and graphics. Chariton Valley Wireless offers Picture Messaging which allows customers to send and receive messages combining pictures with text and sounds right from their wireless phone! MMS is the underlying technology for Chariton Valley Wireless’s Picture Messaging Service.


A communications channel with a bandwidth of less than one voice grade, generally a bandwidth of 64kbps or less. See also broadband

Network Usage

Network usage refers to the transfer of digital information to and from your Chariton Valley Wireless Phone. Examples of such usage include: downloading applications and transferring information to and from the phone such as a news story, a weather forecast, a picture or a movie listing. Usage fees will be charged depending on the amount of data transferred, as measured in Kilobytes (KB) and Megabytes (MB).

No-Service Indicator

A light on a wireless phone that illuminates when the phone is in an area where no wireless service is provided.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

Maker of equipment that is marketed by another vendor, usually under the name of the reseller. The OEM may only manufacture certain components, or complete computers, which are then often configured with software, and/or other hardware by the reseller.

Off-Peak Hours

Off-peak hours are the same as Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes which vary depending on your plan. Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes can start either Monday through Friday, 9:00 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. and Friday 9:00 p.m. to Monday 5:59 a.m. or Monday through Thursday 7:00 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. and Friday 7:00 p.m. to Monday 6:59 a.m. The starting time is based on the location of the phone at the time the call is placed or received.

OTA (Over-the-Air) Activation and Programming

OTA is a standard for the transmission and reception of application-related information in a wireless communications system. Most commonly used in conjunction with the Short Messaging Service (SMS), OTA allows the transfer of small text files, small graphics, as well as instructions for ringtones. OTA messages can be encrypted to ensure user privacy and data security.

PCS (Personal Communication Service)

Originally meant to describe digital service offered at a higher frequency (1900 MHz) than wireless, it is now used as a generic term for all digital wireless.

PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)

A portable computing device that can transmit and receive data, making services such as messaging, E-mail, calendar and other information-handling capabilities possible.

Peak Hours

Peak hours are Chariton Valley Wireless’s primary business hours for using wireless service, often between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. NOTE: Times vary by market.

Picture Messaging Service

Picture Messaging Service allows users to send and receive messages combining pictures with text and sounds right from their wireless phone! In the wireless communications industry, Picture Messaging is often referred to as MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), and MMS is the underlying technology for Chariton Valley Wireless’s Picture Messaging Service.

Polyphonic Ringtones

Polyphonic ringtones are made up of multiple tones and/or notes played simultaneously, which result in a more realistic sound. Different phones support a different number of chords, from 4 to 40 or more.

Prepaid Wireless Service

Prepaid wireless is a pay-as-you-go service that requires no contracts or credit checks. Learn more about our Prepaid Service.

RF (Radio Frequency)

Another name for radio waves.

Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee

Chariton Valley Wireless® charges its customers a Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee to defray the costs associated with certain federal and state mandated programs. Chariton Valley Wireless is not required by law to charge this fee. Since implementation costs may change over time, this fee will be subject to change accordingly. The Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee defrays the cost of implementing and maintaining the following programs:

  • Wireless Number Portability and Number Pooling – Wireless Number Portability allows customers to keep their wireless numbers when switching to different carriers. Number pooling is a method to help conserve wireless phone numbers and delay area code exhaustion.
  • E911 – E911 allows emergency response units to more effectively track the locations of wireless 911 calls.
  • Telephone Text (TTY)/Dual Party Relay – TTY and Dual Party Relay assists speech and hearing-impaired individuals with making and receiving messages by telephone.
  • Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) – CALEA requires that wireless service providers make network changes that allow law enforcement officials to intercept and analyze communications carried over that network.


A ringtone is the sound that a phone makes to indicate an incoming call. Most Chariton Valley Wireless phones include a variety of preset MIDI or polyphonic ringtones as well as the ability to downloaded additional ringtones for added personalization.

Roam Indicator

A light on a wireless handset that illuminates when the user is roaming.


A customer who is using the wireless phone outside the home calling area.

Roamer Access Number

A standard number dialed by a caller prior to dialing a roamer’s wireless number; dialed only when the user is roaming.


Use of a wireless phone outside the home service area.

Roaming Charge

Charges incurred for using wireless phones outside the designated home calling area. These charges may include a per minute charge for airtime.

Rolling Minutes

A block of minutes that can be used within the calling area until their expiration date. They vary from normal calling plan minutes in that they are not refreshed with every new billing period.

RSA (Rural Service Area)

Designated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), an RSA denotes a wireless geographic area with a smaller population base than most metropolitan areas.

Send Key

A button on a wireless phone used to connect or send a call once the caller dials an outbound number.

Service Charge

The fixed amount a customer pays each month to receive wireless service, regardless of how often or how little his or her wireless phone is used. The exact monthly fee depends on the particular calling plan chosen by the customer.

Service Plan

A contract between a wireless carrier and a wireless subscriber that details the terms of the service, including access and activation rates, roaming charges, peak and off-peak charges, etc.


A smartphone is a full-featured mobile phone with personal computer-like functionality. Smartphones are cell phones that support full featured email capabilities with the functionality of a complete personal organizer. Smartphone functionality includes any additional interface including miniature QWERTY keyboard, touch screen, trackwheel or trackball navigation. Secure access to company mail and mobile Internet browsers are key features. Chariton Valley Wireless offers both BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphone devices.

SMS (Short Messaging Service)

The generic term for text messaging. SMS enables customers to send and receive text messages to and from wireless phones.

Signal Strength

A gauge of the strength or weakness of a wireless phone’s reception to wireless transmission for a specific cell at a specific geographical location. Signal strength (strong or weak) impacts call quality and call completion.


Federal government designation of a range of frequencies for a category of use or uses. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated the 1900 MHz band for personal communications services. Allocation, typically accomplished in years-long FCC proceedings, tracks new technology development. However, the FCC can shift existing allocations to accommodate changes in spectrum demand. As an example, some UHF television channels were recently reallocated to public safety.

Standby Time

The amount of time a wireless phone user can leave his or her fully-charged wireless phone turned on before the phone’s battery will run down.


An individual with a contract for wireless service with a carrier. Can also refer to a customer who purchases various features e.g. Text Messaging.

Talk Time

The length of time a wireless phone user can talk on his or her wireless phone without recharging its battery. A phone’s battery capacity is usually expressed in terms of “minutes of talk time” or “hours of standby time.”


The transmission of words, sounds or images usually over great distances, in the form of electromagnetic energy, for example by telegraph, telephone, radio or television.

Telephone Network

The system of wires, fiber-optic cables, satellites and transmission towers that transmit telephone messages from caller to receiver.

Text Messaging

Text Messaging enables you to send, receive and reply to short text messages from your digital phone to most other digital wireless phone users. All wireless phones that Chariton Valley Wireless carries are equipped with Text Messaging. You can either purchase a package or send messages for just 25¢ each. Price may vary depending on plan.

TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access)

TDMA is a wireless digital technology designed to increase channel capacity by separating each wireless call’s signal into pieces and assigning each one to a time slot that lasts a fraction of a second. Using TDMA, a single voice connection can be used to handle up to three wireless phone conversations simultaneously.

Toll Charge

A charge for placing a long distance phone call, whether from a wireless or wired phone.

Toll Free Calling Area

The area in which calls can be placed without incurring long-distance charges.

Transportable Phone

Also known as a bag phone, this is a 3-watt Analog wireless phone with some of the features and benefits of both a wireless and a portable phone. When used in a car, a transportable phone can be plugged into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter for power. Since it’s not permanently installed in a car, it can be moved and used in different vehicles. Though heavier and bulkier than a portable phone, it functions like a portable when powered by its attached battery.


Tri-mode refers to a wireless phone that works on three frequencies, usually 1900 MHz and 800 MHz digital and 800 MHz analog if digital coverage is not available in a given area. Tri-mode phones are usually required for calling plans with national coverage.

Universal Service Fund

The Universal Service Fund is a fund created by the federal government to assist in providing quality, affordable telecommunications service to all citizens as well as to schools, libraries, and rural hospitals. The government subsidizes the cost of telecommunications for those who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Visit the FCC Web site.

Voice Activated Dialing

A feature that enables a wireless phone user to dial a phone by speaking a person’s name or phone number.

Voice Mail

A “telephone mailbox” that answers a call, plays a greeting and records a message when you’re away from or using the phone. After you have retrieved your messages, you can delete them, save them, reply to them or forward them to someone else (or a group of people) on your voice mail system. View Voicemail Instructions for your phone.


Telecommunication technology that uses the radio-frequency spectrum (rather than some form of wire) for transmitting and receiving voice, data and video signals. Examples of this technology can be found in wireless phones, pagers, and other radio-based communications, such as remote garage door openers, baby monitors, and satellite television.

Wireless Data

A generic industry term referring to services such as Chariton Valley Wireless’s My Browse Enhanced Wireless Services that enable you to access digital content via capable wireless phones, laptop computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) or other wireless communications devices.

Wireless LAN (Local Area Network)

Using radio frequency (RF) technology, wireless LANs or WLANs transmit and receive data over the air, minimizing the need for wired connections. Thus, wireless LANs combine data connectivity with user mobility. WLANs are essentially networks that allow the transmission of data and the ability to share resources, such as printers, without the need to physically connect each node, or computer, with wires. Wireless LANs offer the productivity, convenience, and cost advantages over traditional wired networks.

WNP (Wireless Number Portability)

Number portability is a service that enables landline and wireless phone customers to keep their existing phone number when switching from one service provider to another within the same Wide Area calling area.

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