I’m so confused... What are all these terms?

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Nonetheless, parts of it may be cryptic to our intended less technical audience. This page attempts to help in decrypting the meaning of some terms used on the site. If you feel something should be added to this list or clarified elsewhere on the site, please contact the author by the method shown on the About the Author page.


NAT

Acronym: Network Address Translation -- Refers to a technology allowing multiple IPv4 machines to share a common set of public IPv4 addresses rather than requiring individual addresses for each machine. While this technology proved vital in extending the lifespan of IPv4 to allow us to make more progress on IPv6 development and deployment, it does have some rather severe tradeoffs.


ISP

Acronym: Internet Service Provider -- An organization, usually a business, which provides internet connectivity services to other organizations and/or people.


CGN

Acronym: Carrier Grade NAT -- Traditionally NAT is done by devices at an end-user site using a small number of public addresses to communicate with the ISP. In CGN, multiple end-user sites are assigned private addresses by their ISP and a second layer of NAT occurs at the ISP side of the connection allowing multiple end-user sites to theoretically share a small number of public IP addresses. Many applications which work today through NAT (such as most instant messenger clients) break in the CGN environment.


Host

A single device addressable on the internet, such as a computer, cell phone, printer, wireless accesspoint, coffee-maker, refrigerator, stereo amplifier, television, TiVO, etc.


PA

Acronym: Provider Assigned -- Addresses issued to you by your ISP. Advantage: Easier on the internet routing system. Disadvantage: No number portability -- changing ISPs means changing numbers.


PI

Acronym: Provider Independent -- Addresses issued to you by your RIR. Advantage: Number Portability, -- changing ISPs does not require renumbering. Disadvantage: Harder on the internet routing system, more expensive, may be difficult to get service from an ISP for this type of address in some circumstances.


IANA

Acronym: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority -- The organization which delegates number resource blocks to RIRs under a process defined by the RIR communities.

RIR

Acronym: Regional Internet Registry -- One of five organizations (AfriNIC, APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC, RIPE-NCC) which receives number resources from IANA and issues them to LIRs and End Users.


LIR

Acronym: Local Internet Registry -- An organization which receives number resources from one or more RIRs and issues them to their customers. Generally, LIRs are also ISPs.


FIOS/GPON/BPON/DSL

Acronyms for various broadband networking technologies used to deliver high speed internet access to homes and businesses.


VPN

Acronym: Virtual Private Network -- An encrypted tunnel used to deliver data between two networks not directly connected with each other using the internet as transport. The encryption is used to authenticate the data as well as prevent unauthorized access to the data between the two VPN end points.


Dual Stack

The ability or practice of running both IPv4 and IPv6 on a given network, host or device.


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