As an industry we are often guilty of creating confusion through jargon. We have created a comprehensive glossary in plain-English to help you get a better understanding of the technology and what you need.

ADSL – Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line A broadband technology that delivers high data transfer speeds over existing phone lines.

Analogue Lines – This was the original, and still is the common telephone line for many small systems, however some of today’s modern telephony systems are moving from traditional analogue to more cost effective digital alternatives such as ISDN. Analogue lines are rented, if you rent 3 analogue lines then 3 members of your company can speak to 3 separate outside destinations all at the same time. If you have 3 analogue lines, yet only require 1 telephone number for your company, then you simply request 1 line and 2 auxiliary lines. Don’t forget to allow lines for fax machines and franking machines etc.

Analogue Phones – Analogue phones, otherwise known as POTS (Plain Old Telephone System), are basic telephone system phones that allow calls to be placed and received by routing them through the public switched network.

Asterisk – is open source software that enables developers to create a software based PBX or telephone system.

ATM – Asynchronous Transfer Mode A transmission and switching technique capable of supporting voice, video and data (Multimedia) communications. It is unique in that each piece of information is addressed and is of the same length, allowing for very high-speed communications.

Automated (Auto) Attendant – An auto-attendant is the recorded message that answers your phones and instructs callers how to reach the person or department they are looking for. The caller uses their telephone keypad to choose who they need to speak to e.g. “For support press 1, for sales press 2.” Automated Attendant can prove to be beneficial if your company receives a high volume of inbound calls as it can reduce disruptions to your staff carrying out their duties.

Automated Call Distribution (ACD) – Automated Call Distribution (ACD) enables you to quickly and cost-effectively introduce a range of sophisticated call management techniques that will allow you to prioritise calls so that existing or high value customers are placed at the head of the queue, identify types of call and direct them to the most appropriately skilled agent, set up intelligent announcements to advise callers of their place in the queue and the estimated time to answer. ACD is a popular software solution for call centre environments as it provides statistics that can be incorporated into intelligent management reports.

Bandwidth – How much you can send through a connection. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits per second; a full page of English text is roughly 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 57,000 bits per second whereas full-motion, full screen video would require some 10,000,000 bits per second, depending on compression

Call Forwarding – A feature of a telephone system that allows incoming calls to be diverted automatically to a different number, for example a mobile phone or a home office.

Call Management – Call Management is a software client/server application that links to your telephone system and collects real-time call data such as, number of calls waiting, number of available agents, number of abandoned calls, time of oldest call waiting, speed of answer and average talk time. Typically used within call centre environments, Call Management provides a means for managing call traffic and producing monthly reports, it is a graphical, PC-based call reporting and administration application that makes it easy to collect, display and analyse real-time and historical data that can help call you run operations more efficiently.

Call Recording – Call recording allows you to record telephone conversations for later playback and analysis. Conversations are recorded to a storage medium, often a hard disc on a PC or network device. Typically, the voice recorded files are saved in Windows .wav file formats making them easy to use. There are many uses that voice recording can be put to, Solicitors, Call Centre Supervisors, Doctors, Insurance Brokers and Accountants can all benefit from this facility.

Calling Line Identity (CLI) – One of the key ISDN features, CLI displays the phone number of the caller on the answering phone’s display. CLI alpha tagging also shows the caller’s name and company. CLI is the enabling feature of many computer telephony integration applications. Client A software programme that is used to contact and obtain data from a server software programme on another computer. Each client programme is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of server programme, and each server requires a specific kind of client. A web browser is a specific kind of client.

Category V (Cat5) – is a twisted pair high signal integrity cable type often referred to as Cat5 or Cat-5 which can be used to integrate voice and data traffic across a single network. Cat5 is generally required where IP Telephony is to be utilised. (w)

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)  – covers a wide range of applications that connect your computers to your phone system. The classic CTI application is “screen popping”, which uses CLI to identify the caller and display his/her database records on the screen before the call is answered. CTI also enables calls to be made directly from a contact management package by simply clicking the call button.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Generic term for applications designed to streamline interactions with customers. CRM software allows call centre agents to access a customer’s service history from the back-office customer account packages. Small businesses are waking up to the advantages of CRM solutions that integrate with their PCs. The Internet, Email, IVR, voice and interactive TV have sparked a seismic shift towards web-enabled call centres, opening up a new dimension in offering good service.

Direct Dial Inwards (DDI) – A key ISDN feature giving you the ability to assign individual phone numbers (DDI Numbers) to extensions and departments, enabling callers to dial them directly without having to go through the operator.

Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) – DECT is the acronym given to the new digital cordless telephony standard available in the UK (and Europe). DECT systems are far superior to their analogue cousins in a number of respects and users of DECT are nearly always delighted with the improvement compared to an old analogue cordless phone. DECT Cordless handsets can provide wireless communications within an office or company premises. The handsets can be fully integrated with the company phone system, allowing users to make, take and transfer calls securely as they move around the premises.

Digital Cordless Phones – Digital cordless phones now have lots of features, many the same as those we have come to rely upon with our mobile phones. Cordless phones can easily plugged into your analogue or digital phone sockets or telephone system extensions boxes.

Digital Private Network Signalling System (DPNSS) – If your company has two offices or more, you may wish to run both your voice and data communications across the same network from one centralised location. This offers a number of costs savings as you will only have to pay for one backbone infrastructure instead of two or three, one network management and one group of technical personnel. These capabilities can be provided by most, if not all, PBX manufacturers without large dedicated investments or high re-occurring expenses.

Direct Station Select (DSS) – A button on a terminal that can be used to directly dial a person or extension associated with that button.

Dual Tone Multi Frequency (DTMF) Signaling – which is the basis for the operation of pushbutton telephone sets. Dialed numbers are transmitted as tones rather than electronic pulses. This is particularly useful for access to supplementary services (e.g. voicemail and auto attendants).

Ethernet – A common method of networking computers in a LAN. There is more than one type of Ethernet (See LAN).

Euro ISDN – A name for ISDN as defined by the relevant European ETSI standards

Extranet – An Intranet that is accessible to computers that are not physically part of a company’s own private network, but that is not accessible to the general public – for example, to allow vendors and business partners to access a company web site.

Firewall – A security system that prevents computers on a network from communicating directly with computers on another network. Instead, all communication is routed through a proxy server, which determines whether a particular message or file may pass to or from the host.

Gateway – A hardware or software set up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example AOL has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary eMail format and Internet eMail format. Another meaning is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system.

Geographic Numbering– As with Non-Geographic Numbering, Geographic numbering (sometimes called SIP numbering) are not fixed to a line or exchange and can be transferred to new premises when a business moves. This facility is delivered over a

Hyper LAN – A wireless LAN protocol developed by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) akin to 802.11. There are two types of Hiper LAN, both operating in the 5GHz band. Hiper LAN/1 provides data-rates up to 20 Mbps and Hiper LAN/2 data rates up to 54 Mbps.

Host – Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers. It is common to have one host machine providing several services, such as SMTP (eMail) and HTTP (Web).

HTML – Abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language, a language used for creating documents for the World Wide Web. HTML uses special code that tells Web browsers how to display elements such as text and images in a document.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – An Internet service provider maintains a server that is directly connected to the Internet. You must connect through a service provider unless you are directly connected to the Internet. Connecting to a service provider entails calling the provider and setting up a PPP account

Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP)– Analogue (w)

Internet Protocol (IP) – The signalling standard used to transmit data across the Internet and LANs. IP uses packet switching techniques to send data in small chunks (packets)

IP Phones – IP phones/handsets generally offer all the powerful performance features that you get with other types of desktop phones, whilst allowing you to benefit from all the advantages of tapping into an IP-based solution. IP phones are an efficient tool for demanding individual users who are often on the move.

IP Telephony – The use of IP signalling methods to send voice traffic across a data network. Voice signals are broken down into packets and reassembled at the receiving end. Eliminates the need for separate voice and data networks by converging all traffic on one network.

IP Gateway /VoIP Gateway – A gateway for an existing telephone system, which converts normal circuit switched telephony traffic into IP for transmission over a data network, such as a private data network between two sites

Intranet – A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but which is only for internal use.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) – is a set of communications standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). ISDN is available in two types – ISDN2 (or Basic Rate ISDN (BRI)) is delivered as two channels per line up to a maximum of 8 channels and ISDN30 (or Primary Rate ISDN (PRI)) is delivered from 8 channels up to a maximum of 30 per connection. (w)
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – Systems automate routine transactions, such as requests for literature or information by using voice recognition and/or phone keypad operations (DTMF).

ISDN2 – A digital solution that gives you voice, data and fast access to the Internet for two to eight users. The connection offers speeds up to twice as fast as an analogue modem when the two channels are combined. One of the major benefits of ISDN is its compatibility with most of today’s existing telephone/communications infrastructures which allows businesses to benefit from simultaneous use of the telephone and Internet at the same time. Charges for ISDN are based on line rental and levels of usage, there are a range of suppliers to choose from all with varying price tariffs.

ISDN30 – A sophisticated digital solution which enhances your voice, data and Internet access for between eight to thirty users. The connection offers speeds up to twice as fast as an analogue modem. ISDN30 offers clear, secure digital line of voice traffic and can be used to send data over a secure connection to other PCs. Charges for ISDN are based on line rental and levels of usage, there are a range of suppliers to choose from all with varying price tariffs.

Local Area Network (LAN) – A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

LAN Interconnection Using ISDN – an organisation can connect LANs at different locations into a WAN (Wide Area Network) on a dial up basis, without the need for a permanent, expensive, leased data link.

LAN telephony – The convergence of voice and data on a LAN, eliminating the need for separate voice and data networks within an organisation.

Leased Line – Lines such as a telephone lines or fibre optic cables are rented for exclusive 24/7 use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.

MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching– Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a mechanism in high-performance telecommunications networks that directs data from one network node to the next based on short path labels rather than long network addresses, avoiding complex lookups in a routing table. The labels identify virtual links (paths) between distant nodes rather than endpoints. MPLS can encapsulate packets of various network protocols. MPLS supports a range of access technologies, including T1/E1, ATM, Frame Relay, and DSL. (w)

Music on Hold (MOH) – A music on hold (MOH) system plays a pre-recorded program for callers to listen to while they are on hold. You can choose to have the system play music, a voice message, or a combination of both. The average length of a program is typically 4-6 minutes. If you prefer, you can also choose to broadcast a local radio station. In terms of equipment, an MOH system consists of a device that is plugged into your phone system that resembles a tape or CD player. MOH systems can be connected to nearly all office phone systems. Connections are less common, however, with smaller, KSU-less phone systems.

Network – Any time you connect two or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network.

Next Generation Networks (NGN) – is a broad term to describe key architectural evolutions in telecommunication core and access networks that will be deployed over the next 5–10 years. The general idea behind NGN is that one network transports all information and services (voice, data, and all sorts of media such as video) by encapsulating these into packets, like it is on the Internet. NGNs are commonly built around the Internet Protocol, and therefore the term “all-IP” is also sometimes used to describe the transformation toward NGN. (w)

Non-Geographic Numbering (NGN) – are telephone numbers available for private sale which, rather than being assigned to a particular telephone line or circuit, provide callers with a contact number which gives no indication as to the geographical location of the line being called. The owner of the number can retarget the NGN to any other telephone number including mobile, international and even other NGNs at any time therefore enabling them to take their calls on the move or at various locations at different times or simultaneously. NGNs which cost more than 50p (UK) to call are classed as premium rate numbers and usually begin ’09’. (w)

Open Source Software – Open Source Software is software for which the underlying programming is available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software to incorporate those changes. There are many types of Open Source Software, mainly differing in the licensing term under which (altered) copies of the source code may (or must) be redistributed.

Operator Console – The Telephone Operator connects callers, handles message, locates staff, dials destinations and welcomes visitor to reception. These tasks can be performed effortlessly with the introduction of Operator Console hardware. It is easy to use, with an easy to learn graphical user interface with icons, extensive and flexible name directories and a range of message facilities. Operator Console allows your telephone operator to combine call handling with other office applications.

Outside Exchange Lines – Your telephone system lines will be connected to local exchange, the quantity of outside exchange lines needed is dependent upon your specific requirements and the number of users within your office. These lines could be digital i.e. ISDN 2, ISDN 30 or analogue. It is best to discuss this with your chosen supplier as it is possible that they can also help you ensure that all your existing lines are working cost effectively.

Packet Switching – The method used to move data and voice around a network. In packet switching, all the data is broken up into chunks – each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to commingle on the same lines and be sorted and directed along different routes by special machines along the way. In this way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Point of Presence (POP) – A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines.

PC-based (or Windows) Operator Console – The Telephone Operator connects callers, handles message, locate staff, dials destinations and welcomes visitor to reception. These tasks can be performed effortlessly with the introduction of PC-based Operator Console software (sometimes referred to as a WOC or Windows Operator Console). It is easy to use, with an easy to learn graphical user interface with icons, extensive and flexible name directories and a range of message facilities. Operator Console allows your telephone operator to combine call handling with other office applications.

Portal – Usually used as a marketing term to describe a web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when they are using the Web. Typically, a Portal site has a catalogue of web sites, a search engine or both. A Portal site may also offer Email and other services to entice people to use that site as their main “point of entry” to the web.

Predictive Dialling – A third party CTI application, predictive dialling removes all dialling responsibilities from an agent. Once a call has been completed the software automatically dials the next number on the agent’s call list.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) – A generic term used to refer to the telephone network, owned and operated by the carrier.

Quality of Service (QoS) – (pronounced Kwos) Used to provide acceptable voice quality across IP networks.

Q.Sig – Q.sig is a protocol for networking telecom systems from different manufacturers.

Router– A special purpose computer or software package that handles the connection between two or more packet switched networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the source and destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.

S Bus – Device used to connect data terminals such as video conferencing units to ISDN lines.

Server – A computer, or software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software or to the machine on which the software is running. A single server machine can have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network.

SIP – Session Initiation Protocol An Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard, SIP is an open, Internet genuine protocol for establishing and maintaining multi-party, mixed media sessions over converged networks. SIP enables the creation and deployment of feature rich services that go far beyond simple VoIP calls.

SIP Trunking – SIP trunking is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and streaming media service based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) by which Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) deliver telephone services and unified communications to customers equipped with SIP-based private branch exchange (IP-PBX) and Unified Communications facilities. (w)

Soft PBX – The term used to describe a software application that provides server based telephony. Performing similar functions to a hardware PBX, Soft PBXs offer a range of PBX functions, voicemail and integration with other server based applications such as Unified Messaging and contact management systems.

Structured Cabling – A structured cabling system comprises standards-compliant components, such s wall outlets and connections, and the cable itself, which is likely to be Category 5e UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) copper cabling along the floor, often leading to multimode fibreoptic cable in the backbone or vertical riser of the building. Category 5 is currently installed in most buildings that have a structured cabling system. Category 5e is heralded as the solution guaranteeing access to broadband technologies and is fast becoming the cabling of choice. Category 6 is today’s premium UTP cabling and supports even more bandwidth and even faster speeds.

TAPI (Telephone Application Programme Interface) – Developed by Microsoft, 1st and 3rd party TAPI are the standard interfaces for CTI applications.

Telephone Extensions – The number of extensions you require will typically be based on the number of staff you have that need desktop phones. It is wise to take slightly more than you may currently need to allow room for expansion.

Unified Communications – Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, telephony (including IP telephony), video conferencing, data sharing (including web connected electronic whiteboards aka IWB’s or Interactive White Boards), call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax). UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types. (w)

Unified Messaging – Unified Messaging provides you with the facility to handle all you messages (Email, Voice & Fax) through one centralised mailbox. All message types can be viewed, replied to, saved or deleted in the same inbox using a familiar message management system such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. Your company’s contacts and all communications with them, whether by telephone, fax, direct e-mail, website response or personal visit, are integrated into one record which is immediately available, and can even be presented to you automatically.

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) – A UPS will protect your IT and comms when the power has failed or if there is a dip or temporary drop out, but in most cases that’s all it is designed to do. Unless there are other protection devices fitted to the UPS then it won’t protect against surges or from damage that can be caused by harmonic distortion on the LV network.

Videoconferencing – The videoconferencing market essentially splits into three broad segments – endpoints, infrastructure and installation – with further segmentation in the endpoint (personal, set-top and group systems) and the infrastructure (i.e. H320, H323, gateways, gatekeepers) sectors. Increasingly, videoconferencing is being merged into a broader market, called digital video communications, with major manufacturers now moving to supply video, audio and data communications in integrated packages to companies and to move their offerings away form ISDN systems towards IP networks.

Voicemail – A Voicemail system provides an individual answering service for each member of staff. It allows callers to leave voice messages in individual mailboxes when people are away from their desks, out of the office or engaged on another call. Messages can be retrieved internally through your desktop phone, or externally if you are absent from your office. Voicemail is pretty much a standard integrated feature with most telephone systems these days, although it is available in a variety of formats so it is worth discussing the options with your chosen supplier.

Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP/Voice over IP) – eliminates the need for separate voice and data networks by converging all traffic into one network. Both voice and data traffic can be transmitted over a common IP network to provide companies with fully integrated communications. Adopting VoIP can offer your company a variety of benefits such as improved communication between offices and remote locations, the ability to introduce new network applications and make significant cost savings through more effective use of your company’s network.

You should consider purchasing an IP-based telephone system if you wish to network multiple offices using a PBX-to-PBX communications, if you have or want just one infrastructure that can support voice and data between two or more locations, want a smooth migration toward VoIP and investment protection, would like to allow remote workers to become part of the centralised telephone system and share common functionality, or if you are looking to carry out a major upgrade to your existing data network.

Voice over Wi-Fi – as the name suggests, this is a technique whereby voice communications is transmitted using a wireless internet infracstructure.

VPN – Virtual Private Network Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the voice and data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is “virtually” private. Organisations with offices in more than one location can link phone systems in a VPN. Using a linked numbering plan, a staff member in one location can dial a colleague at another office just by dialing their extension number.

WAN – Wide Area Network Any Internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or site.

Web Browser – An application such as Microsoft Internet Explorer that enables you to view web pages on the World Wide Web, on another network or on your computer. A browser also enables you to jump from one web page to another by following links and to download files from the Internet to your computer.

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) – The wireless extension to the wired LAN is a growing market. More organisations have people on the road that need touchdown areas in the office. Wireless is the easiest way to facilitate this. There is also the roaming factor where people need to roam within buildings and need access to central systems. The standard on which most WLANs are currently based is 802.11b. It is a revision of 802.11 standard allowing data rates up to 11Mbps in the 2.4Ghz ISM band.

Wireless Standards 802.11b – The standard on which most WLAN’s are currently based. It is a revision of 802.11 standard allowing data rates up to 11 Mbps in the 2.4Ghz ISM Band. 802.11a – A revision of 802.11 that operates in the unlicensed 5 GHz band and allows transmission rates of 54 Mbps. 802.11a uses orthogonal frequency multiplexing as opposed to FHSS or DSSS. Higher data rates are available by combining channels. 802.11g – An extension to 802.11b, 802.11g will broaden 802.11b’s data rates to 54 Mbps within the 2.4 GHz band using OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology. An 802.11b radio card will interface directly with an 802.11g access point (and vice versa) at 11 Mbps or lower depending on range. Range at 54 Mbps is less than 802.11b access points operating at 11 Mbps.

Wi-Fi – Wireless Fidelity Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliances (WECA) brand identity for the IEEE 802.11b standard; WECA certification that ensures a product’s compatibility. Wi-Fi5 F – refers to WLAN products based upon the 802.11a specification operating in the 5Ghz radio frequency band. Only products that have passed WECAA interoperability testing are allowed to display the Wi-Fi5 certification logo.

Wireless Wide Area Network – Companies with more than one building on a campus or in close proximity in a city can use Wi-Fi technology – or higher frequency, higher speed radio technologies – to build wireless “bridges” between sites.