Introducing the OpenSignal KnowledgeBase

One of the challenges of becoming involved in any kind of specialised industry is the barrage of acronyms and technical terms which one faces on a daily basis. Of course, when one works in the industry in question they soon become second nature and through use are absorbed by our memory banks; like soapy suds into a sponge – ready to be squeezed out at a moment’s notice. This would be fine if these technical terms and acronyms didn’t leak out and enter common parlance, which, when it comes to the telecommunications industry, they most certainly have.

On a daily basis, mobile phone users are swamped by terms such as ‘4G’ or ‘LTE’ and often don’t know what they mean. For instance, there are around 10 million Google searches per month for ‘What is 4G?’. As someone who has only recently become a part of the telecoms world, I know how difficult finding out what these terms actually mean can be, especially without a technical background. Even Wikipedia, my trusted ally since the days of imminent essay deadlines, usually just throws up an assortment of technically specific jargon. For instance, this is from 4G’s Wikipedia article:

‘As opposed to earlier generations, a 4G system does not support traditional circuit-switched telephony service, but all-Internet Protocol (IP) based communication such as IP telephony. As seen below, the spread spectrum radio technology used in 3G systems, is abandoned in all 4G candidate systems and replaced by OFDMA multi-carrier transmission and other frequency-domain equalization (FDE) schemes, making it possible to transfer very high bit rates despite extensive multi-path radio propagation (echoes).’

Which is all well and good, and very useful once you’ve mastered the basics, but isn’t much use for someone who has only a brief interest in finding out about what their phone can do. For this reason we’ve created the OpenSignal KnowledgeBase, an attempt to answer commonly asked questions about telecoms without either talking down to our readers or relying on jargon. It’s currently only a few links, but we’re hoping to expand it in the near future.

If you have a question about what something to do with cell phones or telecoms in general, then tweet us @opensignal or send us a message at and we’ll do our best to add an answer to the KnowledgeBase as quickly as possible. To see what we’ve covered so far, follow this link.

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