VoIP Phone Systems Industry Lingo
Empower yourself with the language of insiders. We decipher the arcane terms, epigrammatic abbreviations, and weird words used in the VoIP phone services industry.
- ATA: Analog telephone adapter. Converts analog to
digital to transmit over the Internet. ATA is the simplest way to
connect standard phone lines to a computer to use VoIP phone services.
- Circuit-switched technology: Where a dedicated path from caller to receiver is
reserved for their entire conversation. In contrast, a VoIP system uses
packet-switching, treating voices as data and sending the information
over shared data networks before converting it back into audio.
- Codecs: Coder-decoders. Converts audio into compressed
digital format for transmission on VoIP phone services and then back to
uncompressed audio when it reaches its destination.
- CTI: Computer Telephony Integration. VoIP works with
advanced CTI applications, such as call center management, to prioritize
incoming calls based on caller identity and to bring up callers'
account information on-screen when calls are answered.
- Data compression: Reduces size of VoIP phone calls before they are transmitted.
- Endpoint: Where the data from a VoIP phone call is supposed to arrive.
- H.323: Protocol for video compression originally used in
videoconferencing that can transmit real-time audio and video data
information over IP networks.
- Internet telephony: Another term for VoIP. Allows you to make real-time
voice, fax, and video calls over the Internet. Small businesses use it
to reduce long distance and international calling costs.
- IP phone: Regular phone that connects directly to a router
using a wider connector for an Enternet connection rather than a
standard phone jack.
- Jitter: Shifts in data transmission that adversely affects VoIP phone service quality.
- KSU: Key System Unit. Central control device for
traditional phone systems that contains the electronics detailing which
lines direct to which phones.
- KSU-less systems: Inexpensive system designed for
very small businesses to provide many of the features of a multi-line
traditional phone system without connecting to a central control unit.
- LAN: Local Area Network. Local network for communication
between computers. Multiple computers can connect to a single LAN and
data can be transmitted very quickly. If a company has multiple
locations - branches, telecommuters, remote sales offices - connected to
a LAN, it can easily set up a VoIP system.
- Latency: The time it takes a packet of data to get from one point to another. Also called delay.
- MAC: Move, Add, and Change process. You can configure
almost all VoIP phone systems through a web interface. Network
administrators only need to maintain one network to move existing lines to new locations, add new lines, and change existing lines from one employee to another.
- MGCP: Media Gateway Control Protocol. Standard for
converting audio signals into data packets carried over a network. Since
VoIP phones aren't connected to specific switches, they use processors
to work independently from a central switching location.
- NANP: North American Numbering Plan. The system that
distributes phone numbers throughout the country. VoIP phone service
reads phone numbers as IP addresses rather than NANP to route phone
- Packet: The individual units of data routed from the data source to its destination.
- Packet loss: Data that doesn't reach its intended destination when network traffic is heavy.
- Packet-switching: Technology that breaks messages into individual
packets for VoIP phone service. Each packet is sent over the Internet
individually - and often out of order - and reforms at its destination.
- Payload: A section of a file transmitted in a packet.
- PBX: Private Branch Exchange. In-house telephone
switching system that interconnects telephone extensions to each other,
as well as to the outside telephone network. The equipment switches
internal and external calls and allows users to share multiple external
phone lines. Many PBX systems can be IP-enabled with software upgrades
and minor hardware additions to handle VoIP phone services.
- Processor drain: The drop in quality of VoIP phone service as you open more applications on your computer.
- Protocol: Defines how hardware and software devices connect to
each other and your network using VoIP. H.323 is the most common
protocol for VoIP phone services.
- PSTN: Public Switched Telephone Network. This circuit-switched network creates a dedicated, high-quality connection for phone calls.
- QoS: Quality of Service. Maintains a dedicated amount of
bandwidth for voice calls by giving voice data a higher priority as it
is trafficked through the network. If there is network congestion, VoIP
data is routed through first so call quality does not suffer.
- Redundancy: Companies that have backup power systems in place
can keep their PBX running, and VoIP within the main office will
continue to operate even if the data network is unavailable.
- Sampling: Measuring the value of an analog signal at regular
intervals, typically millions of times per second, and encoding them
into a digital format for VoIP phone services.
- SIP: Session Initiation Protocol. Establishes sessions over your IP network for VoIP functions.
- Soft phone: Software that allows laptops to function as IP-enabled phones to access VoIP service when on the road.
- Soft switch: Separates network hardware from software to effectively route voice and data over the Internet for VoIP phone services.
- VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol. A phone system
technology that sends regular voice calls over a computer network
instead of traditional phone lines. It requires a standard phone, an
adapter, a subscription to a VoIP phone service, and a broadband
connection. Calls are sent over the Internet as data until it approaches
the person you're calling. Calls are then returned to audio before
traveling over standard phone lines.
- VoIP phone systems: The actual VoIP phone services equipment installed
at your business that routes internal calls over your computer network.
You can combine multiple offices on a single phone system and eliminate
long-distance calling charges between them.
- VPN: Virtual Private Network. Uses encryption to transmit
data over the Internet to keep data private and ensure only authorized
users access the network. For businesses that connect to the company
network using VPN, employees can use VoIP phone services to make phone
calls from outside the office to save money.
- WAN: Wide Area Network. Large geographical area network - usually two or more LANs - that allow computers to connect to each other over various distances using satellite communications or telephone systems. If a company has multiple locations - branches, telecommuters, remote sales offices - connected to a WAN, it can easily set up a VoIP system.
There's more to learn about voice over IP technology than just terminology! Read our VoIP Systems Buyer's Guide for detailed advice that takes you through every stage of the purchasing process, or instantly learn what different VoIP companies can offer your business by comparing their services side-by-side.Ready to Compare VoIP Phone Systems Price Quotes?