Editor’s Note: This glossary of wireless networking terms and definitions is based, in part, on one from the wireless guidance technical report, ANSI/AAMI/IEC TIR80001-2-3:2012; Application of risk management for IT-networks incorporating medical devices—Part 2-3: Guidance for wireless networks.
5G The 5th generation cellular network technology, which has theoretical peak data rates of 10 Gbps.
802.11 A series of IEEE standards that relate to wireless local area networks typically in the 2.4 GHz ISM, 5 GHz ISM, and Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) bands.
802.11a An IEEE standard that relates to wireless local area networks in the 5 GHz ISM and UNII bands.
802.11ac The 5th generation of 802.11 (Wi-Fi) physical standards with data rates up to 866.7 Mbps per spatial stream and up to four spatial streams (3.467 Gbps) that operates in the 5 GHz ISM band.
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) The 6th generation of 802.11 (Wi-Fi) physical standards with data rates of up to 1.2 Gbps per spatial stream and eight spatial streams (9.608 Gbps) that can simultaneously operate in the 2.4 GHz ISM and 5 GHz ISM bands. 802.11ax brings higher efficiency than its predecessor, 802.11ac.l
802.11b/g An IEEE standard that relates to wireless local area networks in the 2.4 GHz ISM band.
Access Point (AP) A bridge from a wireless medium to a wired medium.
Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) A version of FHSS where the channel list is adapted (modified) to avoid channels on which there is interference.
Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) A protocol used by the Internet Protocol (IP) to map IP network addresses to the hardware (MAC) addresses. See also gratuitous ARP.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) A symmetric-key encryption standard. One of its uses is for the WPA2 wireless encryption standard.
Attack Surface The sum of all the different points where an unauthorized user can try to enter data to, or extract data from, an environment.
Authentication The process of ensuring that a person/device/software is actually who/what it claims to be.
Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID) An 802.11 term for the MAC address of an AP.
Bluetooth A wireless technology and standard for a two-way radio communication system operating in the 2.4 GHz ISM radio band and used to create personal area networks.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE/BTLE) A variation of the Bluetooth wireless technology designed for low power consumption.
Body Area Network (BAN) A network of wireless sensors placed on the human body that communicate with each other.
Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) A network protocol used by a network client to obtain an IP address from a configuration server.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) A user’s electronic device used for corporate applications.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Person in the organization who is responsible for IT strategy and deployment.
Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) A shared, broadband radio service in the frequency range of 3550–3700 MHz (3.5 GHz band) the FCC opened to commercial use in 2015 (FCC 15-47).46
Data Integrity Assurance that transmitted files are not deleted, modified, duplicated, or forged without detection.
Delivery Traffic Indicator Map (DTIM) Period In 802.11, the DTIM period indicates how often a beacon contains a traffic indication map. The traffic indication map is how an 802.11 AP informs a client’s devices that the client needs to “wake up” and receive data from the AP.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) A digital communication standard primarily used for cordless phone systems and other wireless communications systems, e.g., patient monitors.
Distributed Antenna System (DAS) An antenna that physically extends over a large area such that it aggregates RF signals to and from devices across that large area to a single point.
Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) A Wi-Fi function that enables WLANs to use 5 GHz frequencies that would otherwise be reserved for radars, on the condition that if radar signatures are detected, the channel is vacated within 10 seconds. The available channel list is dynamically selected based on whether radar signatures exist in a particular channel.
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) A method to allocate IP addresses to client devices upon request by the client.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Degradation of the performance of a piece of equipment, transmission channel, or system (such as medical devices) caused by an electromagnetic disturbance.
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) A computerized medical record created in an HDO.
Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) Any protected health information (PHI) which is stored, accessed, transmitted, or received electronically.
Encoder/Decoder (CODEC) A module that can encode and decode data.
Encryption The process of converting data into a form that is not readable/understandable by an unauthorized person or device.
Extended Service Set Identifier (ESSID) A term that describes a logical grouping of multiple BSSIDs. NOTE: This term is sometimes used in place of SSID.
Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) An authentication framework frequently used in wireless networks and point-to-point connections. It is defined in Request for Comments (RFC) 374847 and was updated by RFC 5247.48
Extensible Authentication Protocol—Transport Layer Security (EAP-TLS) A specific authentication method using the EAP authentication framework (RFC 5216).49
Forward Error Correction (FEC) A technique used in communication to control errors whereby redundant information is transmitted, which allows the receiver to detect and correct a limited number of errors.
Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) A method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly switching a carrier among many frequency channels, using a pseudorandom sequence known to both transmitter and receiver.
Go-Live The point at which a system transitions from the installation phase to the active use phase.
Gratuitous ARP An ARP response that was not prompted by an ARP request. The gratuitous ARP is sent as a broadcast as a way for a node to announce or update its IP address to MAC address mapping to the entire network.
Hazardous Situation Circumstance in which people, property or the environment is/are exposed to one or more hazards. [ISO 14971:2019, definition 3.5]
Healthcare Delivery Organization (HDO) A facility or enterprise such as a clinic or hospital that provides healthcare services.
Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) The name of the field responsible for managing the selection, maintenance, and safe and effective use of medical equipment and systems.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Legislation enacted in the United States that among its provisions requires the protection of protected health information (PHI).
Immunity The ability of an electrical or electronic product to operate as intended without performance degradation in the presence of an electromagnetic disturbance.
Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) Band Certain radio bands that were originally reserved internationally for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy for industrial, scientific, and medical purposes.
Information Technology (IT) Synonymous with information systems. IT/IS refers to the development, maintenance, and use of computer software, systems, and networks.
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) A defined area or department in the hospital allocated for critically ill patients, sometimes also referred to as an intensive therapy unit (ITU).
Internet Group Multicast Protocol (IGMP) A communications protocol used by hosts and adjacent routers on IP networks to establish multicast group memberships.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and/or Internet of Health (IoH) and/or Medical Internet of Things (MIoT) The subset of IoT that includes medical- and health-related IoT devices.
Internet of Things (IoT) The extension of Internet connectivity into sensors and everyday objects, such as cameras, toasters, and refrigerators.
Intrusion Detection System (IDS) A system that monitors the wireless environment and detects unauthorized uses such as “rogue” APs, viruses, worms, etc.
Intrusion Protection System (IPS) A system that includes an IDS and actively attempts to block system intrusions.
Latency The time it takes for a unit of information to cross a wireless link or network connection, from sender to receiver. Also known as transfer delay.
Local Area Network (LAN) A computer network covering a small physical area. NOTE: In 802.3 parlance, a LAN is a set of devices that share a broadcast domain.
Media Access Control (MAC) Part of the link layer in the Open Systems Interconnection reference model.
Medical Device Manufacturer (MDM) A manufacturer of medical devices.
Multicast Addressing A technology for delivering a message to a group of destinations on a network simultaneously.
Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) The use of multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to improve communication performance.
Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) A method of encoding digital data on multiple carrier frequencies used in 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax (technically, 802.11ax uses OFDMA, a multi-user version of OFDM).
Personal Area Network (PAN) A computer network used for communication among computer devices, including smartphones and headsets, in proximity to an individual’s body.
Personal Communication Services (PCS) Term used for the 1900 MHz band that is used for digital mobile phone services in North America.
Physical Interface (PHY) The layer of a communication controller that interfaces to the physical world.
Pre-Shared Key (PSK) A shared secret that was previously shared between the two parties to be used for the encryption of data to be communicated between them.
Quality of Service (QoS) A level of performance in a data communications system or other service typically encompassing multiple performance parameters, such as reliability of data transmission, transfer rate, error rate, and mechanisms and priority levels for time-critical signals.
Radio Frequency (RF) A rate of oscillation in the range of about 30 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents which carry radio signals.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Identification of objects or persons using special tags that contain information (such as demographics, serial number, etc.) that can be read using RF-based readers.
Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) A measure, typically in dBm, of the RF power detected by a receiver.
Security A collection of services, policies, and mechanisms that provides some level of assurance that unauthorized parties are meaningfully restricted from accessing, manipulating, or leveraging particular system resources. NOTE: Some security services might include data encryption, data integrity-checking, user and device authentication, and non-repudiation.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) The necessary level of performance in a data communications system or other service, typically encompassing multiple performance parameters, such as reliability of data transmission, transfer rate, error rate, and mechanisms and priority levels for time-critical signals. NOTE: A typical network services SLA covers metrics such as availability, latency, and throughput. It can also include specifications for mean time to respond, mean time to repair, and problem notification/escalation guarantees. In wireless systems, examples include data rate, signal strength, jitter, and latency.
Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) Signal power divided by noise power.
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) An Internet-standard protocol for managing devices on IP networks.
Susceptibility The potential for equipment (including medical devices) to respond to an electromagnetic disturbance. The inability of a device, equipment, or system to perform without degradation in the presence of an electromagnetic disturbance. NOTE: Susceptibility is a lack of immunity.
Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) An interim security solution that legacy hardware could support when WEP was found vulnerable. NOTE: Deprecated in 2012. Avoid purchasing new equipment that does not support WPA2. Also known under the 802.11 branding as WPA.
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) One of the core protocols within the Internet Protocol suite. NOTE: Differs from UDP in that TCP is acknowledged and connection oriented.
TV White Space (TVWS) Television frequencies allocated to a broadcasting service but not used locally.
User Datagram Protocol (UDP) One of the core protocols within the Internet Protocol suite. NOTE: Differs from TCP in that UDP is not acknowledged and is connectionless oriented.
Validation A process or test to determine whether the device, under actual or simulated use conditions, conforms to defined user needs and intended uses.
Verification A process or test to determine whether the device performs according to design and development input specifications.
Virtual Lan (VLAN) A group of hosts that communicate as if they were attached to the same broadcast domain, regardless of their physical location or physical attachment to the same network switch.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) A technology that allows telephone calls to be made over computer networks. NOTE: A typical CODEC, the G.711 consumes a network bandwidth of 64 Kbps comprising 50 packets per second.
Vulnerability A weakness that can be exploited to perform unauthorized actions within a computer system. See also latency, security, and susceptibility.
Wide Area Network (WAN) A network that covers a very broad area (i.e., any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries).
Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) A subset of the 802.11e standard that provides a higher QoS for delivery of messages for some traffic classes.
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) An interim security solution that fixed many of the weaknesses in WEP and could be implemented on legacy hardware designed to implement WEP. NOTE: Deprecated in 2012. Avoid purchasing new equipment that does not support WPA2.
Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) The long-term security solution put in place to replace WEP and WPA. NOTE: WPA2 uses the Advanced Encryption Standard and adds security features such as a message integrity check.
Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) Wi-Fi Protected Access version 3, introduced in January 2018.
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) The original security mechanism of 802.11 has been superseded by TKIP (aka WPA) for legacy devices and AES (aka WPA2) for all 802.11-certified devices since 2006.
Wireless Coexistence The ability of one wireless system to perform a task in a given shared environment where other systems (in that environment) have an ability to perform their tasks and might or might not be using the same set of rules.
Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi™) A trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) A LAN in which devices communicate using wireless means (such as 802.11-based technology).
Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) A wireless service (set of RF bands) specifically defined in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for transmission of data related to a patient’s health