Telecom Terminology and Acronyms
Telecommunications terminology can be confusing, and business telephone definitions can even change from company to company! We want you to understand exactly which service you’re receiving and why, so America’s Phone Guys has put together a glossary of our favorite telecommunications terminology to take the mystery out of the VoIP services we provide. Have any questions about what you’re reading? Give us a call!
911 Surcharge – This can also be referred to as a 911 tax. It is assessed by states and/or local taxing authorities in the US on VoIP services. It is used to fund E911 services at the state and local levels. In Washington, it is assessed by the state and counties. In Oregon, it is assessed only by the state.
Abandoned Cable – Any cabling, from Riser closet to server room to end-user, which is no longer being used, is the wrong cable type (i.e. riser in a plenum ceiling) or not tagged for future use. It is defined as Installed communications cable that is not terminated at both ends at a connector or other equipment and not identified For Future Use with a tag.
Abnormal Termination Report – Monitoring per-user quality-of-service metrics in real-time.
ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) – A system that handles incoming call traffic, sending calls to the first available station within predefined groups. If all stations are busy then a recorded message is played, and the call is put in a queue until a station becomes available.
Acoustic Coupler – A device that allows a conventional telephone handset to feed its signal into a modem, as opposed to direct couplers, which feed the modulated/demodulated signal directly into the phone line.
Acoustic Echo – Duplication of sound as the result of feedback generated on a phone from the speaker to the mic.
Acoustic Echo Canceller – All speakerphones have some form of adaptive echo canceller that produces a synthetic replica of the potential echo to subtract from the transmit audio. Most units have a center clipping echo suppressor to remove the residual echo from the transmit signal. The goal of the acoustic echo canceller is to reduce the amount of direct and reverberant loudspeaker coupling to the microphone to prevent echo. To achieve this, the algorithms used in today’s devices require an audio system that is feedback stable.
Acoustic Echo Return Loss – AERL – The minimum loss experienced by a sound in traveling from the loudspeaker to the microphone in a conference room. It is expressed in dB or decibels. A 0-dB loss corresponds to a perfectly reflective room or to very close coupling between loudspeaker and microphone. In practice, AERL figures can range from 0 to -30 dB, with a poor room having the former figure.
Acoustic Echo Return Loss Enhancement – AERLE – The maximum echo cancellation provided by the acoustic canceller. Typical figures will vary from 6 to 18 dB. The larger the number the better. It is important to note whether the figure is quoted with the center clipper enabled or disabled. If quoted with center clipper disabled, it is a true measure of the cancellation provided by the echo canceller rather than the attenuation provided by the center clipper.
Acoustic Modem – A modulator-demodulator unit that converts data signals to telephone tones and back again.
Address Mismatch – If the address submitted on a LOA requesting to port a phone number or numbers doesn’t match the losing carrier’s CSR exactly, this will cause the port to be rejected.
Agent Coaching – Allows supervisors to listen in on calls and coach the agents throughout the call. The agent will be able to hear the supervisor, but the client can only hear the agent.
Agent Monitoring – Allows supervisors to listen in on active calls and offer feedback to agents after the call to help them gain proficiency.
Agent Virtualization – This feature creates ACD queues that are all over the world so that agents from anywhere can log in and take calls at any time. It allows call centers to ramp up easily during busy times of year by creating a larger pool of virtual workers who can log in to meet client demand.
Air Blown Fiber (ABF) – Small, flexible plastic microduct tubing installed prior to the installation of individual or multiple optical fibers that are blown through the microduct using compressed air.
ALI – Automatic Location Identification – A 9-1-1 feature by which the name, address and responding agencies associated with the number of the telephone used to dial 9-1-1 is displayed at the PSAP at the time the call is answered.
Analog – A transmission method using continuous electrical signals, varying in amplitude or frequency in response to changes of sound, light, position, etc. impressed on a transducer in the sending unit. The opposite of analog is DIGITAL.
Analog-to-Digital – A/D Conversion – The conversion of an analog signal into a digital equivalent. An A/D converter samples or measures an input voltage and outputs a digitally encoded number corresponding to that voltage.
Analog Transmission – Transmission of a continuously variable signal as opposed to a discrete signal. Physical quantities such as temperature are described as analog while data characters are coded in discrete pulses and are referred to as digital.
ANI – Automatic Number Identification – A feature that provides the billing phone number of the phone from which a call originated or the phone number itself.
ANI/DNIS Routing –Custom routing of phone calls based on ANI (Automatic Number Identification) that gives the caller’s phone number, and DNIS (Dialed Number Identification Service) which is the phone number that was dialed by the caller. An example would be for call centers that are outsourcers and handle the calls for many other companies. The outsourcer would know where to route the call based on which number the caller dialed.
Announcement – A recorded verbal message played to a caller.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) – Not the money machine! This is an international CCITT standard for high-speed [broadband] packet-switched networks that operates at digital transmission speeds above 1.544 Mbps. This communications protocol specifies how diverse kinds of traffic are transformed into standardized packets, which can be managed uniformly within the network.
ATA – Analog Telephone Adapter – A device that converts analog voice signals to digital signals so they can be sent over the Internet.
ATB – All Trunks Busy – The state of a trunk group when all trunks are in use and not additional inbound or outbound calls can be accepted or made.
Attendant – An operator of a PBX console or telephone switchboard.
Attenuation – A reduction in power or amplitude of the transmitted signal. In cables, it is generally expressed in decibels per unit length.
Audio Bridge – An audio bridge connects the telephones at remote sites, equalizes the noise distortion and background noise for a live audio teleconference.
Audio Teleconferencing – Two-way electronic voice communication between two or more groups, or three or more individuals, who are in separate locations.
Audiographic – Teleconference system which uses narrowband telecommunications channels (telephone lines or subcarriers); transmits audio and graphics. Graphics can be transmitted by facsimile transceivers (transmitter-receiver), computers (text or graphic display), or electronic drawing systems (such as electronic blackboard) which allow a participant to draw or write on an electronic screen which is transmitted to a remote site where participants can see it.
Automated Attendant – A feature that allows callers to reach their intended parties without going through a receptionist. Callers can also obtain specific pre-recorded information such as directions, hours of operation, instructions on preparing for a first appointment, etc. without a person having to be involved.
Automatic Call Screening – A feature for busy people that allows them to separate calls into the ones requiring immediate action and those that are less or not important. It’s the modern version of screening calls by letting a call go to voicemail and listening in. Users can set up actions like automatic transfer to voicemail, play a special ring tone for certain callers or just ending the calls. Different profiles can be set up to route calls differently based on your location as well.
Automatic Ring Back – Normally, when a line is busy, you try redialing every few minutes. With automatic ring back, a code is dialed into the telephone keypad to enable the phone to notify you with a ring when your call goes through. Your phone will ring with a distinctive ring, so you know it’s an automatic ring back. When you pick up the phone, it redials the number, so you can complete your call.
Auxiliary Disconnect Outlet (ADO) – A device usually located within the tenant or living unit used to terminate the ADO cable or backbone cable.
Backbone Cabling – Cable and connecting hardware that comprises the main and intermediate cross-connects, as well as cable runs that extend between telecommunications rooms, equipment rooms, and entrance facilities.
Balance – An indication of signal voltage equality and phase polarity on a conductor pair. Perfect balance occurs when the signals across a twisted-pair are equal in magnitude and opposite in phase with respect to ground.
Balanced Signal Transmission – Two voltages, equal and opposite in phase with respect to each other, across the conductors or a twisted-pair (commonly referred to a tip and ring).
Bandwidth – The relative range of frequencies that can be passed without distortion by a transmission medium. Greater bandwidths mean a higher information-carrying capacity of the transmission circuit. Bandwidth, usually measured in Hertz, is assessed as the number of bits that can be transferred per second.
Basic Rate Interface – BRI – The basic subscriber loop for one or two users, which delivers two 64 kbps B channels and one 16 kbps D channel over a standard twisted-pair loop. Each circuit-switched B channel can transmit voice or data simultaneously. The D channel transmits call control messages and user packet data.
B-ISDN (Broadband integrated services digital network) – An evolving CCITT international standard for the second generation of integrated services digital networks. Broadband ISDN services will be carried on fiber-optic networks that employ packet switching in a standardized fashion to integrate voice, data, monochrome, and color facsimile images and one-way and two-way monochrome and color video for local and long-distance transmission.
Bonding – The permanent joining of metal parts to form an electrically conductive path that will assure electrical continuity and the capacity to conduct safely any current likely to be imposed on it.
Break Test Access – Method of disconnecting a circuit that has been electrically bridged to allow testing on either side of the circuit without disturbing cable terminations. Devices that provide break test access include disconnect blocks, bridge clips, plug-on protection modules, and plug-on patching devices.
Bridge – A device, which interconnects three or more telecommunication channels, such as telephone lines. A telephone conference audio bridge links three or more telephones (usually operated assisted). Usually a meet-me audio bridge or provides a teleconference direct dial access number. Both connect remote sites and equalize noise distortion.
Bridged Tap – The multiple appearances of the same cable pair or fiber at several distribution points. Also known as parallel connections.
Bridges, Gateway, Routers – Devices that convert LANs to other LANs, computers, and WANs by allowing systems running on different media (copper wire, fiber optics, etc.) and protocols (rules to communicate).
Bridging – A means of providing through connections between conductors or pairs that are terminated on connecting blocks. These through connections are commonly provided by means of individual metallic bridging clips or multiple bridging clips that are housed in a plastic insulator.
Bridging Amplifier – An amplifier connected directly into the main trunk of the CATV system. It serves as a sophisticated tap, providing isolation from the main trunk, and has multiple high-level outputs that provide signal to the feeder portion of the distribution network. Synonymous with Bridger and distribution amplifier.
Broadband – Communications channels that are capable of carrying a wide range of frequencies. Broadcast television, cable television, microwave, and satellite are examples of broadband technologies. These technologies are capable of carrying a great deal of information in a short amount of time but are more expensive to use than technologies like telephone, which require less bandwidth.
Broadband (Wideband) distribution systems – A telecommunications medium that carries high-frequency signals; includes television frequencies of 3 to 6 megahertz. Broadband distribution systems work like cable TV, in that up to twenty channels are available from a single coaxial cable. A main trunk cable will originate at the control room and run down the hallways of the viewing area. Smaller cables can tie into the main cable at any point along its length. Any room that is near the main cable run can have access to all the channels on the system. Normal television sets are used, and a variety of channels can be received by simply changing channels on the television set.
Broadband Network – A local area network (LAN) residing on coaxial cable capable of transporting multiple data, voice and video channels.
BTN – Billing Telephone Number – The main phone number associated with a particular account with its service provider. Needed when porting any phone number to a different service provider.
Buffering – Buffering is the process of storing packets temporarily during the transmission of information to create a reserve of packets that can be used during packet transmission delays or requests. While a packet buffer is commonly located in the receiving device, it may also be used in the sending device to allow the rapid selection and retransmission of packets when they are requested by the receiving device.
Buffer Bloat – An excessive amount of latency caused when a router or switch is configured to use extremely large buffers. Packets in a first-in-first-out system become queued for long times causing higher latency which degrades VoIP quality as well as other time sensitive applications on a network.
Building Distributor – The international term for intermediate cross-connect. A distributor in which the building backbone cable(s) terminates and at which connections to the campus backbone cable(s) may be made.
Bundled Cable – An assembly of two or more cables continuously bound together to form a single unit prior to installation (sometimes referred to as loomed, speed-wrap or whip cable construction).
Burst Path – Some VoIP providers sell paths which are basically the equivalent of phone lines. When these paths are limited in number and there are more calls than paths, burst paths can be useful so that callers don’t get busy signals. Bursting allows a customer to “burst” over the total number of prepaid call paths they are subscribed to, so that inbound callers are able to get through, even if it is just to leave a message. There is normally a fee associated with this feature that applies only when it is used. Some providers charge once per month for this feature per path so once it is initiated, it can be used for the whole month without an additional charge.
Bus Topology – A linear configuration where all network devices are placed on a single length of cable. It requires one backbone cable to which all network devices are connected.
Busy Lamp Field – A set of LEDs found primarily on an attendant console that indicates which phones on the system are in use.
Busy Override – Allows the calling party to break into an ongoing conversation.
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – Some VoIP providers allow clients to supply their own equipment or ATA. Most have a list available detailing which devices will work best with their service.
Cabling – A combination of cables, wire, cords and connecting hardware used in telecommunications infrastructure.
Call Center – A communications solution centered on inbound and/or outbound calls that uses PBX features such as attendants, queues, predictive dialing, etc. to manage voice calls.
Call Logging – This feature captures, records and provides cost information for telephone usage. It can track both inbound and outbound calls, call ring outs, etc.
Call Blocking – A feature that allows recipients of calls from a specified number to no longer allow that number to call in. It is helpful when trying to stop a repeated annoyance caller from calling again and again.
Call Forwarding on Busy – Allows incoming calls to be redirected to a mobile or other number when your line is busy.
Call Forwarding on Absence – Also known as Forwarding on No Answer – Allows an incoming call to be redirected to a mobile number of other telephone number when you are away from your office phone.
Call on Hold – Allows incoming calls to be suspended and/or retrieve a call placed in suspension.
Call Park – Allows you to put a call on hold at one telephone set and continue the conversation from any other telephone set once you’ve entered the “park code”.
Call Pick-Up – Allows you to answer someone else’s telephone from your extension.
Call Queuing – Allows calls to be placed on hold without handling the actual call or transferring callers to a desired party. Callers are placed in line and can be played pre-recorded music or greetings while waiting, as well as be given updates on their place in line and or likely time until an agent will be with them.
Call Recording – Automatic or agent-controlled recording of phone conversations generating a permanent audio record of phone calls. There are several ways to do this and save the recordings. Accessing the recordings can be the most difficult part but is getting better all of the time. The recordings can be used to settle disputes, train staff and provide individual feedback to agents. Call recording is also required by law for some industries like financial services.
Call Routing – This is a system that can route callers to specific people or departments based on input from callers.
Call Screening – The process of identifying an incoming caller and designating a specific response to that call. At a basic level, the call can be accepted, rejected, or sent to voicemail.
Call Threshold Monitoring – Real-time monitoring of calling or called numbers with large amounts of call attempts.
Call Timer – Clocking phone conversation connection time.
Call Transfer – Sending an existing call to another telephone extension.
Call Waiting – A feature that provides audible or visual indicators to let a single-line-phone user know that there is another call waiting.
Caller ID – Transmits a phone number and possibly name to the called party’s telephone equipment during the ringing signal.
Camera – In television, an electronic device utilizing an optical system and a light-sensitive pick-up tube to convert visual images into electrical impulses. Camera Control Unit # CCU: An electronic device that provides all the operating voltages and signals for the proper set up, adjustment and operation of a television camera.
Camp-On – In PBX and hybrid environments, a method of putting an incoming or outgoing call intended for a busy extension or line into a hold-like state where it remains until a line becomes available.
Campus Backbone – Cabling between buildings that share telecommunications facilities.
Campus Distributor – The international term for main cross-connect. The distributor from which the campus backbone cable emanates.
Card – A flat piece of rigid material bearing electronic components and the printed circuitry that interconnects them. Cards typically have one point where connections to other cards or components are made.
Carrier – A company that provides telecommunication circuits. Carriers include the local telephone companies and larger providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Level 3.
Category – The North American standards for cabling describes mechanical properties and transmission characteristics of unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cables and screened twisted-pair (ScTP) cables and assigns a unique number classification (Cat 3, Cat 5e, Cat 6).
Category – The international standard for cabling and local standardization documents define cabling component categories based on transmission performance parameters such as attenuation and NEXT loss, over a specified frequency range. Component categories are Cat 5, Cat 6 and Cat 7.
Central Office (CO) – A facility of a telecommunications common carrier where calls are switched. In local area exchanges, central offices switch calls within and between the 10,000-line exchange groups that can be addressed uniquely by the area code and first three digits of a phone number.
Channel – The end-to-end transmission path connecting any two points at which application specified equipment is connected. Equipment and work area cables are included in the channel.
Circuit – Means of two-way communication between two or more points. In communication systems, an electronic, electrical, or electromagnetic path between two or more points capable of providing a number of channels.
Class of Service Restrictions – This feature can prevent callers from placing certain types of calls such as long-distance, international or 900 numbers.
Classification – Application classes for cabling have been identified for the purpose of ISO/IEC 11801 standard:
• Class A: cabling is characterized up to 100kHz
• Class B: cabling is characterized up to 1 MHz
• Class C: cabling is characterized up to 16 MHz
• Class D: cabling is characterized up to 100 MHz
• Class E: cabling is characterized up to 250 MHz
• Class F: cabling is characterized up to 600 MHz
• Optical Class: optical fiber links are characterized from 10 MHz and above.
CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) – Your local telephone service provider who is one of the new-generation providers rather than an RBOC or Independent. A CLEC is really just an Independent, albeit one formed after the divestiture of AT&T. See LEC.
CLID – Calling Line ID – Also known as Clip ID, this contains information about the billing telephone number from which a call originated. The CLID may be the entire phone number, the area code only, or the area code plus the local exchange.
Cloud – Cloud refers to the Internet. Cloud Communications is the latest technology where software isn’t just hosted on a single computer, but in a large array of computers located in a single or many data centers around the world. This allows for software to scale larger without added investment in computer hardware. It can also provide redundancy – in case one computer fails, another can pick up the work without interruption.
Cloud Phone – A phone that uses SIP or VoIP to connect to the “brain” of its system, rather than a local PBX.
Cloud Phone Service – The communication pathways that use a phone system that is managed, and off-premises and the “lines” are your Internet connection, rather than traditional phone lines that connect to the public switched network. There is no maintenance for you to worry about, everything is done off-site and at the providers data centers. Only the phones, and possibly a network or PoE switch are at your location.
Codec (Coder/Decoder) – This is usually used to refer to converting analog signals to digital or vice versa. It can also be used in conjunction with compression software to compress and decompress these signals to varying degrees.
CO Lines – The lines connecting your office to the CO (Central Office or telephone company).
Collapsed Backbone – A centralized network contained in one device. The network is said to be collapsed and made to fit into a box. Individual networks are connected to this central device and can then communicate with one another.
Combination Trunk – A trunk (channel) which can both make and receive calls. This generally refers to analog ground start or loop start trunks, although the term can be applied to ISDN BRI or PRI channels as well. Each combination trunk normally has a telephone number, although they are frequently part of a hunt group and only one number may be published for that group. Also called a Both Way Trunk. This is not the same as a Two-way DID trunk.
Common Carrier – A government-regulated private company offering telecommunications services or communications facilities to the general public.
Computer Conferencing – Allows individuals at different locations to communicate with each other through computers. This could be through a chat room, e-mail, a classroom environment created by software. It might include text, audio, video, or shared work-spaces on which all participants can type or draw.
Conference Bridge – Allows callers to call in and enter a code to join a conference. There is usually a host who has control over the functionality of the conference and can do things like mute attendees or separate attendees out into sub-conferences.
Conference Call – Having more than 3 people on the same call, depending on the type of business telephone system or Conference Bridge this can be up to hundreds of people.
Consolidation Point – A location for interconnection between horizontal cables that extend from building pathways and horizontal cables that extend into work area pathways.
Consult Hold – Allows you, while on an established call, to place the original call on hold & call any other station inside or outside the telephone system.
Contact Center – A communications solution to manage voice calls and other types of communications, like chat, SMS, and social media apps. Along with advanced PBX features, it offers integration with CRM solutions and other tools that offer instant information to agents so that they can provide better customer service.
Convergence – Referred to in the telecom and IT worlds as the integration or connection of different systems. It allows for communication and “meeting” of separate systems to allow greater efficiency.
Computer Telephone Integration – Voice, dialing, e-mail, web, CM, call information display, phone control (answer, hang up, hold, conference, etc.), phone and data transfers, call center phone control (logging on; after-call work notification). Call recording and fax.
CPE – Customer Premise Equipment – Usually any equipment located at the customer site that the telephone company isn’t responsible for. This can include a PBX, routers, switches, etc.
CRM Integration – Most businesses use some type of software to manage their customer relationships. Some of the more known examples are Salesforce, SAP and Zendesk. A CRM integration connects your Customer Relationship Management software to your phone service so that client information is readily available whenever a known client calls your office. The connection can also take the data from the clients call and update your account for the client with that information.
Cross-Connect – A facility enabling the termination of cables as well as their interconnection or cross-connection with other cabling or equipment. Also known as a distributor.
Cross-Connection – A connection scheme between cabling runs, subsystems, and equipment using patch cords or jumpers to attach to connecting hardware on each end.
Crosstalk – Noise or interference caused by electromagnetic coupling from one signal path to another.
CSD (Circuit Switched Data) – A dial-up data communications channel, which, once established, looks like a transparent data pipe. Also, the type of ISDN service required to utilize this capability of an ISDN circuit. In contrast to CSV.
CSR – Customer Service Record – A document required for all phone numbers that shows which information is tied to the phone number including services, billing information, associated address and service orders.
CSV (Circuit Switched Voice) – A dial-up communications circuit for voice-grade communication. Also, the type of ISDN service required to use this capability of an ISDN circuit. In contrast to CSD.
CTI – Computer Telephony Integration – The use of computers to manage telephone calls, allowing for automation possibilities and the integration for texting and faxing as well as other services.
Custom Greetings – Separate greetings for internally originated calls or by caller ID, record & save multiple greetings, voice mail greetings, dialing instructions, out of the office, on vacation, personal greetings, etc. Allowing you to quickly switch default greetings.
Custom ISDN – An ISDN protocol which pre-dates National ISDN-1. In most cases, National ISDN-1 is also available. The Northern Telcom DMS-100 switch supports “Custom DMS ISDN”. The AT&T/Lucent 5ESS switch supports “Custom Point-to-Point” (PTP) and Custom Point-to-MultiPoint (PMP). The ISDN protocol has no relation to where one may call. The Telos Zephyr and TWOx12 do not support PMP.
Data – Normally a synonym for information, but in the case of networking, it refers to all traffic that isn’t voice traffic.
Data Compression – Techniques to reduce the amount of computer memory space or transmission resources required to handle a given quantity of data usually achieved through the application of mathematic algorithms to the data transformation process.
D Channel – The signaling and data transmission channel (specified in ISDN standards) used to transmit network control signals for setting up phone calls.
Daisy Chain – A way to connect computers – one after another along a single line.
Data Communications – The movement of encoded information by means of electrical or electronic transmission systems. OR The transmission of data from one point to another over communications channels.
Data Network – These are important for computers, acting as network access points known as nodes, to send and receive data packets across network connections, and for multiple users to access, use, store or encrypt data.
Data Transfer Rate – The speed of travel of an amount of data from one place to another.
Dedicated Line – Leased telecommunications circuits that are devoted to a specific application; a circuit designated for exclusive use by two users; i.e., for interactive portion of a teleconference.
Dedicated System – Videoconferencing equipment, transmission circuits, and teleconferencing facilities that are permanent and used on a regularly scheduled basis as opposed to rented for a one-time or ad hoc event.
Delay Skew – The difference in propagation delay between the fastest and slowest pair in a cable or cabling system.
Demarcation Point (DP or Demarc) – A point at which two services may interface and identify the division of responsibility. Normally the point to which the phone company will deliver service to within a building.
Desktop Click-to-Dial – Computer telephone integration allowing you to click on the person or number in your computer that you wish to call & the call being placed on your telephone.
Desktop Client – Software that allows you to utilize an interface on your desktop computer to place and receive calls, rather than using a more traditional telephone set.
DHCP / DNS Phone Activation – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol – A communications protocol that lets network admins distribute IP addresses from a central point to each device on a network. Often VoIP phones will be assigned a specific DHCP range to utilize. Only one device per DHCP address may be used.
Dial-Up Teleconferencing – Using public phone line to connect with a teleconference, either with or without operator assistance.
DID Extension or DID Station – A specific phone within a PBX which can be called from the public telephone network without going through an attendant or auto-attendant.
DID Number – A phone number used to route calls from the telephone network to a specific phone in a PBX (the DID extension). DID requires special DID trunks or ISDN PRI “two-way DID” trunks. Blocks of DID numbers (typically 10 or 20) are purchased from the LEC or CLEC for use on the PBX. The number of DID numbers usually substantially exceeds the number of trunks in the system.
DID Trunk – A Direct Inward Dialing Trunk. A trunk (channel) which can only receive calls. A group of telephone numbers (DID numbers) are associated with a given trunk group, however, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the individual channels and these numbers. The PBX uses the DID number given it by the phone company to route the channel to the correct DID extension within the PBX extension. This allows some or all PBX stations to receive calls directly without going through an attendant (or auto-attendant) Note that there are almost always more DID numbers than there are DID trunks.
Digital Switch – Equipment used to set up pathways between users for transmission of digital signals.
Direct Inward Dialing – Call routing directly to the desired telephone extension without the need for an operator or attendant.
Direct Inward System Access – The ability to access internal features from an outside telephone line.
Disposition Codes – Codes that are used by call centers to track the results of customer calls so they can analyze the results. These codes can help quantify questions like “What percentage of calls to tech support result in maintenance agreement sales?”
Distributor – The term used for the functions of a collection of components (e.g. patch panels, patch-cords) used to interconnect cables.
DNS – Dynamic Name Service – An IP standard hierarchical naming system to translate a name into a numerical IP address for the purpose of locations and addressing these devices worldwide.
Do Not Disturb – Prevents calls from ringing an extension, sending calls directly to voice mail or another phone.
DSL – Digital Subscriber Line – Phone technology that allows broadband internet to be carried over copper phone lines at the same time as analog phone signals.
DTMF – Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency – Also known as touchtone, it is the signal generated when you press a phone’s keys that is sent to the telephone company.
Ducting (Pathway) – A facility (i.e. conduit) for the placement and protection of telecommunications cables – same as raceway.
Duplex – simultaneous transmission in both directions; sometimes referred to as full duplex to differentiate it from half-duplex, which is alternating transmission in each direction. Transmission in only one direction is called simplex transmission.
E911 – Enhanced 911 service is a system dedicated to connecting mobile and Internet phone users to emergency services.
E-Fax – Phone system software that can turn a user’s computer or mobile device into its own fax machine. The software can automatically detect a fax tone from the caller and begin receiving and processing the image of the incoming document. The software then can generate an image or PDF and place it into the receiver’s e-mail inbox. Outgoing faxes are handled by scanning images or taking photos with a mobile device and uploading them to email which can dial fax numbers and electronically transmit the image to the recipient.
E-mail/Voice Mail Integration – This function allows you to receive e-mail containing your voice mail messages in sound .wav files.
Echo Cancellation – The process of eliminating echo from voice communication to improve call quality. The two types are acoustic echo and hybrid echo. It improves the quality of VoIP calls and reduces the bandwidth needed due to suppressing part of the sound.
Encoder/Decoder – A device used to transform signals from an originating terminal into groups of digital pulses representing letters, numerals, or specific symbols, and transform incoming digital pulses into the form required by the receiving terminal.
End Carrier – The local carrier who terminates a call to an end user.
Entrance Facility – An entrance to a building for both public and private network service cables (including antennae), including the entrance point at the building wall and continuing to the entrance room or space. Entrance facilities are often used to house electrical protection equipment and connecting hardware for the transition between outdoor and indoor cable.
Equipment Cable – A cable or cable assembly used to connect telecommunications equipment to horizontal or backbone cabling.
Equipment Room, Telecommunications – A centralized space for telecommunications equipment that serves the occupants of the building or multiple buildings in a campus environment. An equipment room is considered distinct from a telecommunications room because it is considered to be a building or campus serving (as opposed to floor serving) facility and because of the nature or complexity of the equipment that it contains.
Ethernet – Baseband protocol and technology developed by Xerox and widely supported by manufacturers; a packet technology that operates at 10 Mbps over coaxial cable and allows terminals, concentrators, work stations, and hosts to communicate with each other.
Facilities – Transmission lines, switches and other physical components used to provide telephone service.
Fax – A method of transmitting graphics or text documents over a telecommunications facility. The image is scanned at the transmitter and reconstructed at the receiver to be duplicated on paper.
FC Connector – A type of optical fiber connector identifiable by its round, screw-operated locking nut. It is usually metal. Its ruggedness leads it to be widely used in test equipment.
FCC Recovery Fee – This can also be referred to as a Regulatory Recovery Fee, Regulatory Access Fee, or a Federal Program Fee. This fee is used to recover direct costs the provider incurs for complying with FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulations and taxes, such as lawyers, form filings, and the resources needed to stay compliant.
FDDI Fiber Distributed Data Interface – 1. Transports data up to speeds of 100 Mbps. 2. FDDI is a high-speed (100Mb) token ring LAN.
Federal Excise Tax – A tax mandated by the federal government that is levied on local and wireless telecommunications services.
Federal TRS Fund – Federal Telecommunications Relay Service Fund – Similar to the Federal USF, all providers have to contribute to this fund. It is used to fund services for allowing persons with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls. Some states may also have their own TRS funds.
Federal USF – Universal Service Fund – This fee is based on a percentage of interstate usage, although to make things easier the FCC provides a safe harbor calculation (a fixed percentage of overall usage). The fee changes quarterly and is used to directly fund things like rural bandwidth deployment, or access programs that bring phone and Internet service to poor and underserved communities, schools and libraries, and other similar programs. When initially authorized by the FCC in 1998 it was a factor of 3.91% and as of the 2nd quarter 2021 was a factor of 33.4%.
Fiber Optics – Technology based on thin filaments of glass or other transparent materials used as the medium for transmitting coded light pulses that represent data, image and sound. Fiber optic technology offers extremely high transmission speeds.
Fiber Optic Transmission – A communication scheme whereby electrical data is converted to light energy and transmitted through optical fibers.
Find-Me-Follow-Me – Setting up a list of phone numbers for which to have unanswered calls to your office phone sent to in a specific sequence until one of them is answered. Only if there is no answer at any of the numbers will the call go to voicemail. Often when this functionality is enabled, the caller will be advised that calls are being forwarded while the system runs through each of the attempts to reach you.
Firestop – A material, device, or assembly or parts installed in a cable pathway at a fire-rated wall or floor to prevent passage of flame, smoke or gases through the rated barrier (e.g. between cubicles or separated rooms or spaces).
Firewall – A network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It typically establishes a barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted network, such as the Internet.
Fixed VoIP – A VoIP phone number that is associated with a specific location, such as a company address. These are more reliable and secure than non-fixed VoIP numbers. These numbers can’t be purchased by anyone outside of the country and are less likely to be used for spam marketing or fraud.
Floor Distributor – The international term for horizontal cross-connect. The distributor used to connect between horizontal cable and other cabling subsystems or equipment.
FOC – Firm Order Commitment – Confirmation from a current service provider that a Service order to port a telephone number will be fulfilled, stating the date that the current carrier will comply with the request stated in the Service Order. It is provided by the losing service provider in response to a port order issues to them to move a number from their network to another.
Follow-Me – The phone extension is configured with a list of numbers for a person. When a call is received, the call routes to each number on the list until either the call is answered, or the list is exhausted.
Four-Wire Circuit – A circuit that has two pairs of conductors (four wires), one pair for the send channel and one pair for the receive channel; allows two parties to talk and be heard simultaneously.
Frame Relay – A high-speed interface between switches and T1 or T3 multiplexers. Frame relay is a connection-oriented interface that initially will be incorporated into private T1 and T3 multiplexers. T1 and T3 multiplexers equipped with frame relay will provide a packet-oriented, HDLC-framed interface to routers and X.25 packet switches. The packets will be routed to the proper destination by the multiplexers. Minimal protocol processing enables frame-relay multiplexers to achieve high throughput. Initially, permanent virtual circuits will be supported; later, it is likely that switched virtual circuits services may also be provided by frame relay. The major advantage of frame-relay-equipped multiplexers is that only a single connection is required from the customer premises equipment (routers or X.25 packet switches) to the multiplexer. Also, with frame relay support in multiplexers, users contend for bandwidth provided via the multiplexer, and thus line cost efficiencies can be improved.
FSX – Foreign eXchange Subscriber – An RJ11 port used to connect in premise to an analog office phone, fax machine or other analog device.
FXO – Foreign eXchange Office – Designates a telephone signaling interface (port) that receives POTS. And IP-PBX appliance requires the use of FXO ports to accept each active copper telephone line from the service provider.
Gain – An increase in signal power in transmission from one point to another; usually expressed in decibels.
Gateway – A network element interconnecting two otherwise incompatible networks, network nodes, sub-networks or devices.
Gross Receipts Tax – A tax imposed by some local jurisdictions in Washington state of up to 6% of the gross costs of utility services such as VoIP phone service.
Ground – A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, between an electrical circuit (telecommunications) or equipment and earth, or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.
Hands-Free Operation – Using a speaker or microphone built into the phone base instead of the handset.
HD Voice – High-Definition voice is a technology that delivers enhanced sound as compared to a typical voice call delivered on a landline through the PSTN.
Headset Options – Hands-free operation using a wired or wireless handset; some include hands-free lifting systems so that you won’t even need to lift the receiver off the phone base.
Hertz – A measure of frequency as defined in units of cycles per second.
Home-Run Cabling – A distribution method in which individual cables are run directly from the horizontal cross-connect to each telecommunications outlet. This configuration is also known as star topology.
Horizontal Cabling – The cabling between and including the telecommunications outlet and the horizontal cross-connect.
Horizontal Cross-Connect – A cross-connect of horizontal cabling to other cabling, e.g. horizontal, backbone or equipment.
Hosted VoIP – Also known as Cloud Based PBX and/or Hosted PBX is where the PBX hardware and software that handle calls for a business resides with the provider off-site on the Internet. Through signaling, calls and other communications are initiated and routed to other parties.
Hot Desk (Hotelling) – A method of supporting unassigned seating in an office environment or temporary physical operation of a workspace.
Hub – Equipment that serves as the centralized connection point for a network or portion thereof. Hubs are used for multiplexing, multi-port bridging functions, switching and test access. They can be either passive or active and are not considered to be a part of the cabling infrastructure.
Hunt Group – When a line called is busy, this system sends the call to the next available line. This is used to distribute calls from a single telephone number to a group of phone lines.
Hybrid – A combination of two or more technologies or a multiline business telephone system combining the manual line selection of a key system and the automatic line selection of a PBX system.
Hybrid Cable – An assembly of two or more cables, of the same or different types or categories, covered by one overall sheath.
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IAD – Integrated Access Device – Equipment that is used to convert digital signals back to VoIP that is usually used with a DSL connection.
ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier) – A local Exchange Carrier that entered the marketplace before the enactment of the 1996 Telecom act; i.e. a telephone company which is neither an Indie nor an RBOC.
Inbound – The direction of a signal relative to the hub of a local area network (LAN) or other telecommunications system. Inbound signals would be traveling from originating points other than the primary hub in the reverse direction to the hub.
Intelligent Hub – A hub that performs bridging and routing functions in a collapsed backbone environment.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – A generic term for transaction systems allowing phone callers to use an ordinary tone-dialing telephone to interact with a computer through speech or dialed instructions. Each response by the caller triggers another recorded message until the transaction is completed.
Interbuilding Backbone – Telecommunications cable(s) that are part of the campus subsystem that connect one building to another.
Intercom – Two-way talk paths over a phone base speaker with or without announcement, for group announcement or limited public dialogue with everyone in the group.
Intercom Groups – Two-way talk paths over a phone base speaker with or without announcement, for group announcements, or limited public dialogue with everyone in the group.
Inter-Exchange Carrier – IXC – Carriers that can carry inter-LATA traffic. Long-distance telephone companies such as AT&T.
Jack – A connecting device to which a wire or wires of a circuit may be attached, and which is arranged for the insertion of a plug.
Jumper Wire – An assembly of twisted-pairs without connectors on either end used to join telecommunications links at a cross-connect.
Intermediate Cross-Connect – The connection point between a backbone cable that extends from the main cross-connect (first-level backbone) and the backbone cable from the horizontal cross-connect (second-level backbone).
Interconnect – A company or vendor selling customer premises equipment, generally PBXs and other types of office telephone systems. An interconnect company is typically an independent distributor of products from more than one manufacturer.
Interconnection – A connection scheme that provides direct access to the cabling infrastructure and the ability to make cabling system changes using equipment cords.
Internet Protocol – IP is the communications system that routes data packets from one computer to another over the Internet.
IP Address – An Internet Protocol address is a fixed of dynamic number ranging from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255 and is required for every device connected to the Internet.
IP Telephony – Another term for VoIP. Refers to using the Internet to carry multiple forms of communication information, not just voice. It also encompasses faxing over the Internet.
IP-PBX – Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange – A hosted PBX that is able to send a VoIP voice stream over a LAN/WAN circuit.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) – Integrated Services Digital Network – A circuit-switched telephone network system designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in better voice quality than an analog phone line.
ISP – Internet Service Provider – A company that provides Internet access to consumers and businesses.
IVR – Interactive Voice Response. This is a version of an Auto-Attendant allows the caller to interact with the system using the keys on their phone and or voice responses to pre-set questions set up by the receiving party. This has most often been used by permitting departments for building and construction trades.
Jitter – As data load fluctuates, routers on the Internet can create slightly different times that individual packets take to travel from one point to another. This variation in that time is called jitter.
Kari’s Law – Outlined in FCC 19-76 effective 2/16/20, the law places obligations on MLTS and the companies who manufacture, import, sell, and/or lease them. It requires users to be able to dial 911 without the use of any additional digit (typically a 9) or code to make the call.
Key Telephone System – A multiline telephone system offering a limited range of features; key systems are popular among smaller businesses as their main telephone system. They are also found in large businesses as a form of extension to their big primary phone system. Key systems are characterized by manual selection of outgoing lines, their small size, and relatively low price.
LAN – Local Area Network – A network in the same premise or small geographical area uses to connect computers and other devices together through the use of cabling or wireless connections so that data can be sent from one point to another.
Last Number Redial – Placing a call to the last number dialed by pressing a reduced number of keys.
LATA – Local access and transport area of a telephone company.
Latency – The time it takes for a packet to reach its destination, normally measured in milliseconds. Higher delay times can be an issue for VoIP, where the voice delay can make conversations difficult.
Leased Lines – A term used to describe the leased or rented use of dedicated lines from point to point. Lines could include fiber optic cables, telephone cables, microwave or other transmission systems.
LEC – Local exchange carrier of a telephone company. Carriers that can carry only intra-LATA traffic. Local telephone companies such as CenturyTel, Verizon, Integra, etc.
LERG – Local Exchange Routing Guide – A database of the first six digits of telephone numbers that provides routing information for sending calls over the PSTN as well as identifying which local company owns the number.
Line – An electrical connection between a telephone service provider’s switch (LEC or CLEC) and a telephone terminal or Key system. An electrical connection between a telephone service provider’s switch and another switch is called a trunk. Note that some type of physical line offers more than one channel. I.E. a BRI circuit has 2 channels, called B channels.
Line Appearance – A button/lamp on the telephone base linked to a phone line that indicates availability. You can see the status of the line by looking at the phone. When the lamps are lit, they indicate lines are in use, on hold, ringing, or available.
Line Appearance – Shared – Allows multiple stations to share line appearance(s), extension number and manage calls as a group. Everyone in the group can see the status of their select incoming lines.
Line Card – The circuit in the Telco switch to which your line is connected. On an ISDN circuit, the line card performs a role analogous to the NT1 in adapting and equalizing the circuit.
Line Echo – Echo that is common in the PSTN network created as a result of voice traveling over hybrids or 2 wire to 4 wire conversions.
Line Hunting – Line hunting for POTS lines involves the telephone service provider programming their equipment to ring phone numbers in which order when each number is in use. In a VoIP setting, line hunting involves setting up groups for simultaneous ringing in which anyone in the group can answer incoming calls.
Link – An end-to-end transmission path provided by the cabling infrastructure. Cabling links include all cables and connection hardware that comprise the horizontal or backbone subsystems. Equipment and work area cables are not included as part of a link.
LNP – Local Number Portability is the ability of a US telephone customer to retain their phone number if they switch to another phone service provider.
LOA – Letter of Agency – A legal document in which the executing party makes certain assertions to a service provider about their authorization to switch (port) services and telephone numbers from one provider to another. Traditionally, this would be a paper document requiring an actual signature. However, the telecom industry currently supports LOAs which may generate from a variety of electronic and verbal methods.
Local Area Network (LAN) – A geographically limited data communications system for a specific user group consisting of a group of interconnected computers, sharing applications, data and peripheral devices such as printers and CD-ROM drives intended for the local transport of data, video, and voice.
Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) – The local regulated provider of public switched telecommunications services.
Local Loop – The telephone line that runs from the local telephone company to the end user’s premise. It can be made up of fiber, copper or wireless media.
Local Utility Users Tax – A telecom tax imposed by some states or localities in the US that varies by jurisdiction. Depending on the state it can be between 0 and 11% of your fees. In Oregon and Washington, it is most often 6% or less of the cost of services.
Loop Back – A diagnostic test in which a signal is transmitted across a medium while the sending device waits for its return. It is helpful in isolating problem devices.
Loop Start – A method of demanding dial tone from the central office by completing an electrical pathway between the outbound and return conductors of a telephone line. Single-line telephone instruments employ Loop start, for example.
LRN – Local Routing Number – A 10-digit code that represents a specific carrier. This code is “attached” to each phone number to indicate which carrier the phone number currently is subscribed with for routing purposes.
MAC Address – Media Access Control Address – A unique identifier usually assigned by the device manufacturer and sometimes referred to as the hardware or physical address. It enables VoIP traffic to be routed to a specific device, such as an ATA or IP phone.
Main Cross-Connect – A cross-connect for the first level backbone cables, entrance cables, and equipment cables.
Measured Service – Term generally associated with providing local telephone service on a usage-sensitive basis with calls priced based on two or more of the following usage elements: distance, duration, frequency, and time of day. It is the opposite of flat-rate pricing.
Meet-Me Bridge – Meet-Me Teleconferencing – A type of telephone bridge that can be accessed directly by calling a certain access number; provides dial-in teleconferencing. The term “meet-me bridging” refers to the use of this type of bridge.
Message Rate – A form of usage-sensitive pricing for local telephone service where usage charges are figured by counting the calls and multiplying the number of calls made by the established per-call charge. An alternative to flat-rate and measured pricing.
Message Waiting Indicator – A lamp on the telephone set base indicating you have received a phone call and have received a new voice mail message.
Messaging – Refers to voicemail, fax, and/or broadcast messaging. Messages can vary in content and media type–the distinction being that they are recorded or stored for pickup in the future.
Metadata – Can tell you the time a call took place, the sending and receiving parties, the ANI (Automatic Number Identification), the DNIS (Dialed Number Identification Service) number, how long the call was and more. This information is most useful when using a CRM Integration.
MLTS – Multi-Line Telephone Systems – The phone equipment that is typically used in businesses and some very large homes that have two or more phone lines and multiple extensions (handsets) attached to them.
MMS – Multimedia Messaging Service – This is the media variant of an SMS message that allows users to send images, videos, or audio via traditional cellular networks.
Mobile Client – An app for your cell phone that allows you to utilize an interface to place and receive calls on behalf of your business, rather than using a more traditional telephone set. This allows you to call out as your business so that those you are calling don’t get your personal cell phone number as well as callers to reach you on your cell phone when the client is activated.
Modem (Modulator-Demodulator) – An electronic device that allows computers to communicate over standard telephone lines. It transforms digital signal into an analog signal and transmits to another modem which then reconstructs the digital signal from the analog signal.
Modular Jack / Plug – A telecommunication outlet/connector for wire or cords. Modular jacks can have 4, 6 or 8 contact positions, but not all the positions need to be equipped with contacts.
MOS – Mean Opinion Score provides a numerical rating of the perceived voice transmission after compression and/or transmission between 1 and 5. 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest perceived audio quality rating.
Multiple Mailbox Greetings – Ability to create separate greetings for internally originated calls and externally originated calls, or by caller ID. You can record and save multiple greetings, welcome greetings, voice mail greetings, dialing instructions, out of the office messages, on vacation notifications, personal greetings, etc.
Multiplexed Channel – A communications channel capable of serving several devices, or users, at once
Multiplexing – An electronic or optical process that combines a large number of lower-speed transmission lines into one high-speed line by splitting the total available bandwidth of the high-speed line into narrower bands (frequency division), or by allotting a common channel to several different transmitting devices, one at a time in sequence (time division). Multiplexing devices are widely employed in networks to improve efficiency by concentrating traffic.
Music On Hold – Playing recorded music or messages to fill the silence for callers placed on hold.
Name Announcement – A method to audibly announce an identified caller. The caller name is determined by making a query to a database with phone numbers and corresponding line owners.
NANP – North American Numbering Plan Administration – An organization that oversees the NANP for Canada, the US and it’s territories as well as some Caribbean countries.
NANPA – North American Numbering Plan Administration – An organization that oversees the NANP for Canada, the US and it’s territories as well as some Caribbean countries.
NAT – Network Address Translation – An Internet standard allowing a local network to use one public IP address to connect to the Internet and a set of local IP addresses to identify each PC or device on the local network.
NCC – Network Control Center – A central location on a network where remote diagnostics and management are controlled.
Network – Any system designed to provide one or more access paths for communications between users at different geographic locations that may include designs for voice, data, facsimile images and/or video images.
Network Architecture – A set of design principles defining the protocol, functions and logical components of a network and how they should perform.
Network Demarcation Point – The point of interconnection between the local exchange carrier’s telecommunication facilities and the telecommunications systems wiring and equipment as the end user’s facility. This point is located on the subscriber’s side of the telephone company’s protector or the equivalent thereof in cases where a protector is not required.
Network Interface – The physical point in a telephone subscriber’s home or place of business where the telephone devices and/or inside wiring of the subscriber are connected to the transmission lines of the local telephone service provider.
Night Service – After hours incoming calls are automatically redirected by the switchboard to telephones or central voice mail.
Non-Fixed VoIP – These VoIP phone numbers are not associated with any specific location or address and are usually easier to register or sign up for online. They are more portable than fixed VoIP number and can be purchased internationally. They are sometimes referred to as disposable numbers.
NPAC – Number Portability Administration Center – A venter, which supports the implementation of Local Number Portability (LNP).
Off-Hook – A telephone set in use – the handset is removed from its cradle, thus sending an electrical signal to the central office that a circuit needs to be opened.
Off-Line – The condition where a terminal or device capable of active connection with the facilities of a computer or communications networks is in the disconnected or idle state.
Off-Premises System – Refers to a teleconferencing room or equipment located outside of a user organization’s facility; e.g., a video teleconferencing room operated by a vendor and available to the public for a fee.
On-Hook – The normal state of the phone in which the handset rests in the cradle and the circuit to the central office conducts no electrical signal.
On-Line – The condition where a terminal or device capable of active connection with the facilities of a communications network or computer is in the active or connected state; a unit functioning under the continual control of a computer.
Open Source – A licensing mechanism whereby users are allowed to use, modify, re-distribute, and even sell copies of software. If a program is redistributed with modifications, the source code of the modifications must also be provided.
Oregon USF – A universal service fund surcharge that ensures high quality and affordable phone service is available to all Oregonians, especially those living in rural areas where the cost to provide telecommunications service may be higher.
Outbound – Direction of a signal relative to the hub of a local area network (LAN) or other telecommunications system. Outbound signals would be traveling away from the primary hub in the forward direction to the extremities of the system.
Outbound Caller ID number DID or Company – Feature allows control over what’s displayed on the outbound caller ID with certain types of telephone lines.
Outbound Caller ID Selection – A feature that allows selecting a specific caller ID number to show when you place calls. It is most helpful for companies that work in multiple markets or are starting to work in a new area and want to appear local.
Outbound Call Restrictions – Prevents callers from placing certain types of calls such as long-distance, international or 900 numbers.
Outlet / Connector – A connecting device in the work area on which horizontal cable terminates.
PABX – Private Automatic Branch Exchange: A private automatic telephone exchange, usually located at the user’s site, that routes and interfaces the local business telephones and data circuits to and from the public telephone network.
Packet – A packet is a logically grouped unit of data containing the information to be transmitted as well as information regarding the originator, destination and synchronization.
Packet Loss – During a transmission some of the data that is sent in packets are lost due to latency, congestion at a router or other network problems. It is specifically problematic to VoIP and even a small amount can result in significant voice degradation.
Packet Switched Network – A digital data transmission network that uses packet switching technology.
Packet Switching – A digital data transmission method that divides messages and files into standard-size pieces – called packets – that are switched across networks individually and then reassembled at their destination.
Paging – A service designed to deliver numeric or alphanumeric messaging to a person whose location is uncertain – paging services make use of radio communications.
Patch Cord – A length of cable with connectors on one or both ends used to join telecommunications links at a cross-connect.
Patch Panel – Connecting hardware that typically provides means to connect horizontal or backbone cables to an arrangement of fixed connectors that may be accessed using patch cords or equipment cords to form cross-connections or interconnections.
PBX – Private Branch Exchange – A private telephone system that allows phone lines from a phone service provider to connect to extensions within the systems control. PBX is often used as the short term for a phone system.
PCAP – Packet Capture – An application programming interface (API) that allows for capturing network traffic. It can be useful in diagnosing connectivity issues on VoIP networks and equipment.
Pending Orders – If there are any active orders on the account that you are porting phone numbers away from, carriers will reject new port orders with this error. These orders can include things like recent feature adds or disconnects, address change, authorized name change, etc.
Plenum – A compartment or chamber to which one or more air ducts are connected and that forms part of the air distribution system.
PoE – Power over Ethernet – A technology used to transmit electrical power along with data to remote devices over standard ethernet cabling in a network. It is used to power some IP telephone and network cameras where it could be expensive to run power separately.
Point-to-Multipoint – A teleconference broadcast from one location to several receiving locations (also known as downlink sites.)
Point-to-Point Teleconference between two locations. Point-to-Multipoint – one location to many sites.
PON – Port Order Number – A system generated order number assigned to port orders to easily identify individual requests. The PON is how the carriers schedule and track the number transfers or ports. It can be helpful for customers to know the PON when inquiring about the status of a port order.
PoP – Point of Presence – A physical place where a carrier has their presence for network access.
Port – An interface location on a computer or communications system that provides a point of access for peripheral equipment, such as printers, voice mail, C.O. Lines, etc.
Porting – The procedure of transferring a DID (phone number) from one carrier to another.
POTS Lines (Plain Old Telephone Service Lines) – Basic telephone lines whose primary purpose is the transmission of human speech.
Power Back-Up – Provides power to the phone system during power outages.
Predictive Dialer – An automated telephone dialing system that dials from a list of phone number and turns the call over to agents when someone answers.
Presence – Used to communicate the status of workers so others on the system can see who is available at a given time.
PRI – Primary rate interface – PRI is a CCITT-defined ISDN trunking technology that delivers 64 kbps clear channels and standardized out-of-band signaling. PRI can serve customer premise equipment (CPE) such as a PBX, LAN gateway, or host computer or can serve as a trunk interface between central offices.
Priority Queuing – Allows some clients to have a higher priority in the ACD queue so they can be routed more quickly to an available agent and or be routed to a higher-level agent for their support. For example, larger VoIP carriers will prioritize calls from clients with many seats over small businesses.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) – A private switching system usually serving an organization, such as a business, is located on the customer’s premises. It switches calls both inside a building or premises and outside to the telephone network and can sometimes provide access to a computer from a data terminal.
Privilege Tax – A tax imposed by some Oregon cities on telecommunications as defined in ORS 133.721. It may be collected only if the entity operates for a period of 30 days within the city and is for the use of public streets, alleys or highways, or all of them, in such city for other than travel on such streets and highways. It cannot exceed 5% of the gross revenues of the utility earned within the boundary of the city.
Prompt – When the host system asks you to do something and waits for you to respond. For example, if you see “login:” it means type your user name.
Propagation Delay – The amount of time that passes between when a signal is transmitted and when it is received at the opposite end of a cable or cabling.
PSAP – Public Safety Answering Point – The central point where the 9-1-1 call is received and responded to.
PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network – A circuit-switched telephone network that’s been in use for the last century. It is also referred to as Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS. It works using underground copper wires that are hardwired from homes and businesses to switching centers where calls are connected to one another. Maintenance is costly and challenging which is part of why VoIP has been growing in popularity.
Public Switched Network – Any switching system that provides a circuit-switched to many customers.
PUC Fee – A fee designed to recover the amount telecom service providers pay the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) to regulate public utilities. It is assessed on all intrastate revenues, including both local and toll services.
Punch Down – A method for securing wire to a quick clip in which the insulated wire is placed in the terminal groove and pushed down with a special tool. As the wire is seated, the terminal displaces the wire insulation to make an electrical connection. The punch down operation may also trim the wire as it terminates. Also called a cut-down.
QOS – Quality of Service – In networking terms this refers to the ability of a network to give guaranteed performance based on a metric usually by putting the priority on voice traffic.
Queue – A “holding room” for data or voice communications that are waiting to be processed by either the system or human intervention.
Rate Center – The geographic area used by local exchange carriers to set rate boundaries for issuing phone numbers and billing. They are important when considering porting of numbers through LNP and to VoIP providers.
Ray Baum’s Act – Under this act, MLTS’s are required to provide a “dispatchable location” when emergency calls to 911 are made. This must include a validated street address and additional information such as suite, apartment number, or similar details that would help locate the caller as quickly as possible. Additionally, it will apply to all mobile devices, including VoIP phones that are moved around, as of 1/6/22.
Redundancy – Having back-up systems available to provide continuous service in the case of a failure in the main system
Remote Access – Sending and receiving data to and from a computer through communications links such as phone lines.
Remote Call Forwarding – Similar to call forwarding. Calls from a local telephone number can be forwarded to long-distance numbers (in another city for example) without the caller be charged for long-distance fees.
Remote / Duplicate Extensions –Shared line presence on multiple phones with simultaneous ringing.
Remote Location – Ability to use phone system and access phone system features external to the physical phone system location.
Remote Phone – A telephone set in a location that is not in the same office or building as the PBX or other VoIP phones when most are in one location. It can be a phone that is normally in one location and is temporarily being used elsewhere, or in situations where companies have multiple offices and there is only one PBX it would be at a location where the PBX isn’t located.
Resporg – Responsible organization – A term that refers to the company providing the telecommunication services of toll-free telephone numbers.
Ring Conductor – A telephony term used to describe one of the two conductors in a cable pair used to provide telephone service. This term was originally coined from its position as the second (ring) conductor of a tip-ring-sleeve switchboard plug.
Ring Network – A local area network in which devices are connected in a closed-loop or ring as opposed to a bus network.
Ring Tones – Customizable audible alerts, representing various telephone activities. Allows audible distinguishing of internal calls, external calls, and can be assigned to specific phone numbers or activities.
Router –A device connected to at least two networks that determines the nest network point to forward a packet to. Decisions are based on current understanding of the networks to which it is connected.
Routing – The way calls are passed through a telephone system as determined by the programming done when the system is set up.
ROW Fee – Right-Of-Way Fee – Assessed by some local jurisdictions in Oregon to fund improvements and service for utility rights-of-way. They are assessed to utility customers rather than passing the costs directly to the taxpayers. These fees also help repair and maintain public lands and other spaces for the designated jurisdiction. Other local jurisdictions may call this a privilege tax.
RSPF Surcharge – Residential Service Protection Fund – Used to fund relay services, specialized communication devices to qualifying Oregonians with disabilities, and discounted monthly phones or high-speed internet service for qualifying low-income Oregonians.
RTP – Real Time Transport Protocol – An Internet protocol that functions for end-to-end network connections for applications using audio or video.
SaaS – Software as a Service. With the SaaS model, software is no longer purchased and installed at your location. It is a service that another entity provides and for which you pay a recurring fee on a monthly or yearly basis. Costs are fixed, there is less risk, and there is little or no need to staff an IT department to ensure it is up and running as well as secure. New features are made available without your needing to do anything but adapt and start using them.
Scalability – How easily a business can add extensions, lines or integrate additional telecom equipment or features to their existing telecom systems.
SD-WAN – Software Defined WAN – A software-defined wide area network uses software-based management that tries to eliminate the complexity of packet routing by an understanding of applications, their performance and the policies that are placed. Bandwidth allocation can be prioritized to allocate dynamic path selection for critical applications, like voice and video.
Secretary Functions – Permits a station user to answer an internal or external incoming call on the Boss’ line, announce, consult, transfer back to the boss or Voice Mail by re-depressing the boss’ line. This is generally used to screen calls.
Seat – A seat is a phone or a phone user depending on the VoIP carrier. One person may have a phone at their desk in the office, use a soft phone on their laptop when at home, and use an app on their cell phone when they are out and about. Depending on the carrier, that might count as one seat or three even though the person would not be able to use all three devices simultaneously.
Secret Call Monitoring – Allows a call to be listened in on without interrupting. Neither the caller nor the agent is notified of the listeners presence. It is most often a feature that has to be enabled and only given to management level staff.
Serial Transmission – Sending pulses (information) one right after another. The opposite would be a parallel transmission.
Service Provider – A company that provides services to Internet, telephone and mobile phone users. In computing, this can be a telecom company that hosts network or storage servers. Internet and Internet Telephony Service Providers (ISPs and ITSPs) respectively offer connection to the Internet and voice communications.
Shared Lines – There are two features that do similar things for line sharing: busy lamp field (BLF) and shared line appearance (SLA). With BLF you don’t see missed calls, with SLA you will see the missed calls. BLF shows which lines are in use by callers and allows a receptionist to see if someone is available to receive a call; much like a free version of presence. If you need to make outbound calls from someone else’s DID, SLA is a better solution. It also allows you to check voicemail for the other user.
Shared Message Boxes – A group mailbox set up so any member of the group, usually the first available, can retrieve the message.
Shielded Twisted-Pair (SSTP) – A cable surrounded by a metallic braid, foil or both and bound in a single plastic sheath containing balanced twisted-pair conductors that are individually shielded.
Silence Suppression – A means of increasing the number of calls supported on VoIP by reducing the bandwidth for a single call.
Singlemode Optical Fiber – An optical fiber that will allow only one mode to propagate; this fiber is typically step-index fiber.
SIP – Session Initiation Protocol – A request-response signaling protocol for Internet conferencing, telephony, and instant messaging. Software applications use SIP to transmit voice and video over IP networks. It is used for creating, modifying, and terminating two- or multi–party sessions that can contain one or more media streams.
SIP Trunking – A protocol that allows you to connect your PBX system to your IP network so that you can send phone calls over IP networks instead of the PSTN.
Small Form Factor – An optical fiber connector and adapter that provides for two strands of fiber in a surface area similar to an unshielded twisted-pair (RJ-style) plug and socket.
SMDR (Station Message Detail Reporting) – Information recorded by a computer attached to the phone system, providing cost accounting information such as the number of calls, both local and long-distance, made from an extension during a certain time period.
SMS – Short Message Service – The most common form of text messaging used today. It is a text messaging service component of most telephone, Internet, and mobile device systems. It uses standardized communication protocols that let mobile devices exchange short text messages. Intermediary services can facilitate a text-to-voice conversion that allows sending to landlines.
Softphone –A software program for making phone calls over the Internet using a computer instead of a telephone set. The software can be installed on a desktop or laptop computer, mobile phone, or tablet. It is typically used with a headset and microphone.
Special Event Teleconferencing – Teleconference that uses facilities that are temporarily linked for a specific event; implies a temporary satellite network for one-way video and two-way audio.
Speed Dial – A feature on PBX phones allowing users to dial programmed numbers by simply pressing one button (or entering a two or three-digit code).
Speaker Phone – Speaker and microphone built into the telephone base, used for hands-free communication, paging and intercom communication.
Station – Simply another word for the telephone. For example, the telephone station may be one of many extensions on a PBX system.
Station Hunting – A feature allowing an incoming call to a busy phone to be routed to the next idle phone in a pre-determined group of phones.
Station-to-Station – Avoids carrier rate charges, calling internal extensions by pressing a reduced number of keys, usually the last 3 or 4 digits of a DID number.
Structured Cabling – A building or campus telecommunications-cabling infrastructure that consists of a number of standardized smaller elements (hence structured) called subsystems.
Stutter Tone – The type of dial tone sound created by some remote voicemail systems to alert users to the presence of a message waiting to be retrieved.
Switch – A device that keeps a record of the MAC addresses of all devices connected to it and then channels incoming data from any of multiple input ports to the specific output port that will take the data to its intended destination.
Switched Line – A circuit, which is routed through a circuit-switched network.
Switching – Connecting the caller to the called party.
T-1 – A digital transmission link capable of handling 1.544 Megabits per second.
T-3 – 28 T-1 lines (See T-1).
T.38 – A standard for sending faxes over IP networks in real time mode. The messages are sent as UDP or TCP/IP packets.
TCP/IP – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol – A networking protocol that provides communications across interconnected networks, between computers with diverse hardware and various operating systems.
Telecommunications – Any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds or information of any nature y cable, radio, visual, optical or other electromagnetic systems.
Telecommunications Room (TR) – An enclosed space for housing telecommunications equipment, cable terminations, and cross-connect cabling used to serve work areas located on the same floor. The telecommunications closet is the typical location of the horizontal cross-connect and is considered distinct from an equipment room because it is considered to be a floor serving (as opposed to building or campus serving) facility.
Teleconference – A conference, which links people by audio and/or video through telecommunications.
Telephony – The process of converting sounds into electrical impulses for transmission over a connecting medium such as wires, fiber optics or microwave.
Terminal – The point of connection between a telephone line and an operative device. Also, sometimes terminal refers to the operative device, such as a computer terminal.
Three-Way Calling – An option that allows callers to add a second outgoing call to an already connected call.
Tie Line – A telephone line which is dedicated to connecting two points and which requires a minimum human intervention to achieve communication.
Time & Date Display – LCD display of time, date and length of conversation.
Tip Conductor – A telephony term used to describe the conductor of a pair that is grounded at the central office when the line is idle. This term was originally coined from its position as the first (tip) conductor of a tip-ring-sleeve switchboard plug.
Token Ring -A method of controlling which of several work stations in a Local Area Network is transmitting at a particular time.
Toll Restriction – A method of controlling which employees, if any, have access to telephone lines for which a toll may be charged to the employer.
Topology – The physical or logical layout or links and nodes in a network. These include star, ring and bus configurations.
Traffic Pumping – A controversial practice by which some LECs in rural areas inflate the volume of incoming calls to their networks, and profit from the greatly increased intercarrier compensation fees to which they are entitled by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC permits rural carriers to charge substantially higher access fees than carriers in urban areas, based on the rationale that they must pay for substantial fixed infrastructure costs while handling lower call volumes. This is a danger of using toll free numbers in rural areas.
Transfer: Announce / Consult – Allows you to speak with the receiving party before executing a call transfer.
Transfer: Blind / Ringing – Allows you to transfer a call without intervention, without speaking to the receiving party.
Transition Point (TP) – A location in the horizontal cabling subsystem where flat under carpet cabling connects to round cabling.
Trunk – A communication line between two switching systems. The term switching systems typically includes equipment in a central office (the telephone company) and PBXs. A tie trunk connects PBXs. Central office trunks connect a PBX to the switching system at the central office.
Trunking – An IP PBX’s process of merging data from multiple calls into a single set of packets to reduce transmission overhead.
Trunk Group – A number of telephone channels, which are functionally related. Most common is the Hunt Group. Other common types include Incoming Trunk Groups and Outgoing Trunk Groups.
Turnkey – A ready-to-go telephone system installed by the vendor, including both hardware and software.
Twin-Axial Cable – Two commonly insulated conductors, covered by a metallic shield and enclosed in a cable sheath.
Twisted Pair – Two copper wires twisted around each other. The twists vary in length and reduce induction.
Two-Way DID Trunk – An ISDN PRI (or T1) line equipped for direct inward dialing. Most trunks are related to a given phone number, either alone or as part of a hunt group. In the case of a “normal” (i.e. analog) DID Trunk a group of phone numbers are associated with that DID trunk (or group of trunks) and incoming calls include the DID Number, so the PBX can route that call to the correct DID Extension. This is exactly how ISDN PRI functions, with the DID information coming in over the D Channel. There is a significant difference between a normal DID Trunk and a Two-way DID trunk over ISDN PRI. For one thing, ISDN PRI is digital. More importantly, you cannot dial out over a true DID trunk and you can dial out over a PRI.
UCAAS – Unified Communications as a Service – A category of an “as a service” in which unified communications are delivered by a cloud PBX service.
UDP – User Datagram Protocol – A communications protocol that does not provide sequencing of packets. The app must be able to make certain that the entire message has arrived and done so in the right order.
Underlying Carrier (ULC) – A third-party vendor/carrier that provides the facilities utilized by a reseller in the provisioning of its interexchange service to its customers. In some cases, these carriers are the ones providing the international, interstate, intrastate, and toll-free communication services to the carrier who resells them to the customer. Examples of ULC’s are Level 3, Bandwidth and sometimes they are the same as the service provider as in the cases of AT&T, Comcast & others.
Unified Communications (UC) – A concept describing the integration of enterprise communication services where each service is available from a single unified interface. Services usually include telephone calls, voicemail, e-mail, fax, video conferencing, data sharing and integration with CRM applications.
Unified Messaging (UM) – A term that refers to integrating different electronic messaging and communications media (e-mail, SMS, fax, voicemail, video messaging, etc.) technologies into a single interface, accessible from a variety of devices.
Unshielded Twisted-Pair (UTP) – A cable with multiple pairs of twisted insulated copper conductors bound in a single sheath.
Uptime – Uptime is a metric used to measure the overall performance of your service provider. It is a percentage and shows for how long the service is up and running. The higher the number, the better it is for you.
VAD – Voice Activation Detection – A software application, also known as silence suppression, that detects the absence of audio for a specified amount of time and then uses techniques to conserve bandwidth.
Videoconferencing – Video teleconferencing (See teleconferencing).
Video Teleconference – A meeting involving at least one uplink and a number of downlinks at different locations. Electronic voice and video communication between two or more locations. It can be a fully interactive voice and video or two-way voice and one- way video. It includes full-motion, compressed, and freeze-frame video.
Virtual Phone Number – A VoIP phone number that is for a different location than where the user or company resides. For instance, it could be a local telephone number from another state or country. Calls being made to the number from that local area are treated as local calls. The calls are routed to the user’s primary VoIP phone number.
Virtual Workers – Workers who perform their job functions from locations other than the company’s offices.
VLAN – Virtual Local Area Network – A logical subnetwork that groups a collection of devices from different physical LANs. Large business networks often set up VLANs to re-partition a network for improved traffic management. Several types of physical networks support VLANs, including ethernet and Wi-Fi.
VM Message Archiving – Ability to save a voice mail message past the normal retention period.
VM Forwarding – Enables users to forward received messages to another user’s voice mailbox.
VM Remote Access – Accessing your voice mail from another phone or a telephone that is outside your phone system.
VM Time / Date Stamp – System appends time and date messages to received and recorded messages.
Voice Mail – Answering machine where messages are digitized and recorded for future retrieval.
Voice Mail System – Voice messages stored in personalized mailboxes associated with the user’s phone number for future retrieval.
VoIP – VoIP is the acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is the transmission of voice over the Internet as digital packets using real-time protocol (RTP) to help ensure the packets are delivered timely.
VoIP Gateway – VoIP systems use gateways to convert voice calls and faxes received from the PSTN into digital packets that are then transmitted over and IP network.
Voice Digitization – Converting analog signals (voice) into binary bits for storage and transmission.
Voice Mail Broadcasting List – Sends one message to one or more other user’s voice mailboxes.
Voice Mailbox Group – Send or forward voice mail messages to multiple voice mailboxes or a voice mailbox group.
Voice Paging – A one-way path of announcement sent over a phone base speaker or external overhead speaker, with little or no announcement, for individual or group announcement.
Voice Response – A computer allowing users interaction via touchtone telephone. Users navigate the system with the help of digitally read menus.
VPN – Virtual Private Network – Using tunneling, IP traffic is typically securely encrypted between two endpoints so that the transmission travels securely over a public TCP/IP network. Instead of using a dedicated, real-world connection such as a leased line, a VPN uses “virtual” connections routed through the Internet from one end point, such as a business’s private network, to the remote endpoint site, typically a remote working employee.
WAN (Wide Area Network) – A network that extends LANs to other LANs, typically over a wide geographical area using communications lines provided by a common carrier.
WATS Line -Wide Area Telecommunications Service – A type of telephone service in which subscribers pay a base rate rather than a charge per call. An in-WATS line allows anyone in a designated area to phone an 800 number and pay nothing for the call. An out-WATS line allows users to place outgoing long-distance calls.
Whisper Messages – Automated messages that are played to agents as calls are being routed to them. They may identify a specific type of customer so that the agent can greet the caller with a specialized greeting possibly to make them feel special or appreciated.
Wi-Fi Phone – These phones provide voice and data communications over the Internet whenever a wireless signal is available.
WLAN – Wireless Local Area Network – A LAN that operates wirelessly.
Work Area Cable – A cable assembly used to connect equipment to the telecommunications outlet in the work area. Work area cables are considered to be outside the scope of cabling standards.
Work Order – Also known as a trouble ticket, this form is what identifies the work to be performed at a customer location by a technician.
Telecom Terminology and Acronyms in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
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