Short for Data Terminal Equipment, a device that controls data flowing to or from a computer. The term is most often used in reference to serial communications defined by the RS-232C standard. This standard defines the two ends of the communications channel as being a DTE and Data Communications Equipment (DCE) device. In practical terms, the DCE is usually a modem and the DTE is the computer itself, or more precisely, the computer’s UART chip. For internal modems, the DCE and DTE are part of the same device.