Telecommunications acronyms

When I first got to campus, I arrived a bit earlier than most of the staff and I didn’t have the key to my office. So I went to the Rutgers Math Library to hunker down and read a bit. It was winter break and so the place was empty. The furniture in there is pretty retro — it kind of reminded me of the Urbana Free Library as a kid. While browsing the stacks, I came across this:

Book spine: Computer and Telecommunications Acronyms

A book I saw at the Rutgers Math Library

One of the most… annoying things about wireless communications is the proliferation of acronyms. The one most people haven’t heard of is UE for “User Equipment.” That is, the cellphone or mobile or tablet. The one that everyone has heard of is LTE, for “Long Term Evolution,” an acronym with nearly zero informational content (H(\mathsf{LTE}) \approx 0 for those in the information theory crowd). How “LTE” passed muster with the marketing folks is mysterious to me. Perhaps being more or less meaningless was a plus in their book.

In any case, go to any tutorial on actual wireless technologies (like the LTE tutorial I went to), and it quickly devolves into a soup of acronyms from which few travelers return unscathed. They may be great if you already know what they mean, but it’s a disaster for trying to teach people.


3 thoughts on “Telecommunications acronyms

  1. I have always thought that LTE is a brilliant name. The long term evolution of cellular will always be LTE. 5G is just one step on the evolutionary path.

    BTW why didn’t you quiz us on archaic networking acronyms from the 70’s and 80’s?

  2. Ha. I always joke that I avoided the Army (whew!) and wireless both because they have more acronyms than anything else on the earth! I did learn wireless acronyms finally (thanks Flarion!) – and Army acronyms (thanks, Captain sister!). Sigh. I think we all have acronyms though. Circuits people have so many acronyms too (and expect every person in EE to know them). But heaven forbid if we Bayesian/theorist type EE’ers thinks they think might what the heck MAP or ML or the EM algorithm is… Sophomore level probability is not EE! Nope. But ICRO/TIA/AAF/VCO/SIGe/EPROM…snore…those are what *real* EE people know…

  3. At least many wireless people happily explain their acronyms to those of us that find their work interesting and don’t like act we should speak their language of acronyms 🙂

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