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AT&T Language, Acronyms, and Telephony Talk (With Photos)

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I have been an AT&T Uverse wire technician for over seven years.

Learn how to speak the language of telephones... or at least sound like you do.

Learn how to speak the language of telephones... or at least sound like you do.

Learn the Lingo

Working for AT&T requires you to be bilingual. We use so much jargon that we can almost have an entire conversation without using a single word from the English language. For instance:

I had a 9-11 GPON conversion, HSIA VOIP only, in 76. Looks like a move order but was a CSI with a 3800 and 3 wifi STB and 2 HPNA but I guess they're getting DTV so hopefully I don't get an R-30 after the contractor comes.

Did you understand any of that? If not, it's okay. I'm here to teach! Actually, I don't know what some of it stands for either. We learn acronyms, not precisely what they stand for. That's okay, I'll learn too! Let's get to the acronyms and terminology!

AT&T

I didn't even wonder what this meant until I had been working here at the company for about seven years. Apparently, it stands for American Telephone & Telegraph. Who knew?!

RG = modem. This modem is only one of about eight different models.

RG = modem. This modem is only one of about eight different models.

RG

Residential gateway. It's simply what we call your modem.

CAT = category

CAT = category

Cat5/Cat6

Category 5/6 wire. This is the acceptable type of wire used to feed your modem service. It's the same wire used in ethernet cords.

Cat3

Category 3 wire. This is the same type of wire but an older version that is not acceptable to use.

IW = inside wire

IW = inside wire

IWs

Inside wires. Most homes were build with basic telephone wires that are not Cat3, Cat5, or Cat6. These are unacceptable to use for service.

AB jack

AB jack

AB Jack

This is a special type of jack used to plug your modem into.

Punch down jack

Punch down jack

Punch Down

This is the type of jack we like. We literally punch down copper wires to make a custom jack.

RJ11

RJ11

RJ11

This is the tiny plastic piece on a telephone cord that plugs into the wall.

RJ45

RJ45

RJ45

This is the tiny plastic piece on an ethernet cable used to plug into a device.

Coax

Coax

Coax

Most people assume "cable" is coax. They say "here are my cable outlets" and show me all the coax that we don't use. They're the jacks on the wall that you can twist a cable onto.

RG6

RG6

RG6

An acceptable type of coax to use for TV service. It has a thicker copper core than its counterpart, RG59.

RG59

RG59

RG59

An unacceptable type of coax to use for TV service.

Barrel

Barrel

Barrel

The small (male to male) piece that connects two coax cables together.

ONT = optical network terminal. There are a few other types of ONTs but this is the most common one as of this post.

ONT = optical network terminal. There are a few other types of ONTs but this is the most common one as of this post.

ONT

Optical network terminal. This is the box that is mounted inside of your home that converts fiber light into usable data. (See also "What is Fiber Gigapower")

Homerun

Homerun

Homerun

This refers to the wire that is run from the box outside your home to the modem itself. It should be 1 single wire that is not split or spliced anywhere. It's a homerun to the modem.

CPE = customer personal equipment

CPE = customer personal equipment

CPE

Customer Personal Equipment but is generally considered any AT&T equipment such as TV boxes and modems.

STB = set top box. There are different models of STBs, but this is a Wi-Fi model.

STB = set top box. There are different models of STBs, but this is a Wi-Fi model.

STB

Set top box. The box that goes with every TV except the DVR.

HPNA

Home phone network alliance. This is a fancy way of saying coax. You can say "I have three set top boxes on HPNA," and they know you mean coax. It generally means coax network.

INI

Inside network interface. Similar to 'Homerun', this is the jack that is fed by the homerun before a wire is plugged into it and the modem.

RJ31X located in the bottom right corner, the little beige box.

RJ31X located in the bottom right corner, the little beige box.

RJ31X

This is the square phone jack that is near your alarm panel (not keypad). Many alarms use dial tone and this is the only spot I am allowed to troubleshoot.

DVR = digital video recorder. There are multiple models of DVRs, this is only one model.

DVR = digital video recorder. There are multiple models of DVRs, this is only one model.

DVR

Digital video recorder. This is the STB that stores all the recordings.

This is a NID, a type of dmarc. There are many types of dmarcs.

This is a NID, a type of dmarc. There are many types of dmarcs.

Dmarc

Demarcation point. This is the split between AT&T responsibility and customer responsibility. Generally, it's the box on the outside of the house. If a tree falls on your wire, it's on our side of the dmarc and our responsibility to fix. If a dog chews through the wire attached on the outside of the home, it's on your side of the dmarc and your responsibility. If you're in an apartment, your dmarc could be the phone jack inside. The dmarc is not a set place or item. It's simply the spot the AT&T wires become the customers wires.

BBU = battery back up unit. There is a black version of this as well.

BBU = battery back up unit. There is a black version of this as well.

BBU

Battery Back Up unit. They used to be installed with customers who had phone service but we no longer install them.

NID = network interface device. NIDs come in different shapes and sizes. This is a 3-line NID. I sometimes find NIDs from the 1950s that are aluminum and the size of a fist.

NID = network interface device. NIDs come in different shapes and sizes. This is a 3-line NID. I sometimes find NIDs from the 1950s that are aluminum and the size of a fist.

NID / ONI

Network interface device / Outside network interface. This is the box on the side of the house. It's generally the dmarc and is where all the phone wires inside the house meet. It's also where the AT&T wires are grounded.

They have discontinued this style EBN but us techs loved them.

They have discontinued this style EBN but us techs loved them.

EBN

This is the block that splices the AT&T wire to the home run. It's grounded.

There are different types of beans. Some have three holes or a pass through. They can be different colors.

There are different types of beans. Some have three holes or a pass through. They can be different colors.

Beans

These are little plastic clips that are used to splice wires.

ASW = aerial service wire. AT&T on the right, Comcast on the left.

ASW = aerial service wire. AT&T on the right, Comcast on the left.

ASW

Aerial service wire. This is the drop wire that's used when ran from the telephone pole to your home.

BSW = buried service wire

BSW = buried service wire

BSW

Buried service wire is the drop wire that's runs under ground to your home.

P-clamp

P-clamp

P-Clamp

The clamp that uses compression to hold an aerial wire.

Rams horns

Rams horns

Rams Horns

This is the hook that's likely placed on a building to attach a P-Clamp onto.

Terminal

Terminal

Terminal

These are the splice points near the home where a few wires are spliced out of the main cable to use for the surrounding houses. These can be aerial or buried.

This is an aerial CFST. There are also pedestals that stick up out of the ground and buried CFSTs as well.

This is an aerial CFST. There are also pedestals that stick up out of the ground and buried CFSTs as well.

FST/CFST

Fiber service terminal. This is a terminal near the customers house that is fed from fiber and sends fiber to the customers home.

POTS

Plain old telephone service. There aren't too many people who still have this but it's the analog phone service that is powered by 48-52 volts of electrical current.

VOIP

Voice over internet protocol. This is the digital alternative to POTS where the phone service comes directly from the modem.

HSIA

High speed internet access. Pronounced His-sa. This term is a simple way of conveying the customer has, or you're talking about, the internet.

CO

Central Office. This is a major networking hub that can service hundreds of thousands of customers.

VRAD = video ready access device

VRAD = video ready access device

VRAD

Video ready access device. A box that services an entire neighborhood. It's fed from the central office on fiber but sends copper to the customers home.

No two crossboxes are alike.

No two crossboxes are alike.

Crossbox / xbox/ SAI

Service area interface. A box that services an entire neighborhood. It's fed by copper from the central office and sends copper to the customers home.

PFP = primary flexibility point. They come in different sizes and shapes. It's rare to find a brand new one, such as this.

PFP = primary flexibility point. They come in different sizes and shapes. It's rare to find a brand new one, such as this.

PFP

Primary flexibility point. This is a box that services an entire neighborhood. It's fed from the central office on fiber and sends fiber to the customers home.

IP-CO

Internet protocol central office. This indicates there is no fiber in the customers network. The service is a direct feed, on copper, from the central office.

FTTN

Fiber to the node. This indicates there is a fiber network to the neighborhood, and then a copper network to the house.

FTTN-BP / Bonded / Bonded Pair

Fiber to the node bonded pair. Most customers are fed with a pair of copper wires. This indicates that a customer is fed with two pairs of copper wires.

FTTP / GPON

Fibber to the premise. This indicates you get fiber to the prem. A customer who is fed entirely from fiber with no copper in the network.

CSI

Customer self install. This indicates that a customer refused to pay for an install. I go out and do all the splices and trust the customer knows how to plug in the modem in the correct spot. If I had to guess, about 90% of these fail and the customer calls in a repair ticket and we have to go out and bill them for a full install anyway.

Access Customer

This is someone who utilizes the government welfare SNAP program. They're eligible for $10 internet. Usually fiber.

Cx

Customer. This is just a simplified version of typing out notes. ie. "cx unplugged rg".

9-11, 11-1, 1-3, 4-8, 830-830

There are a few others, but these are simply time frames that the customer made with customer service.

To Be Continued

I started this thinking I could finish it fairly quickly and it could be used as a quick reference. However, I've been at it for quite some time now and am nowhere near being done so as I remember other terms, I will come back and update this page. Make sure to bookmark it for future reference!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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