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VOIP Terms and Definitions

Updated: July 17, 2013

There is a lot of jargon in business telecom, especially when it comes to VOIP. To help you get a handle on it all we’ve gathered the key terms in one place and defined them. For easy reference, feel free to bookmark this article.

VOIP Terms

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
A digital communication technology that allows faster transmission of data than a regular phone modem line. It is called ‘asymmetric’ because bandwidth is greater for downloading rather than uploading data.

The amount of data that can be transmitted in a given increment of time. it is measured in bits per second (BPS) or megabytes per second (MBPS).

Broadband Connection
A connection that can transfer for multiple kinds of data at the same time.

Cable Internet
A form of broadband Internet access that relies on cable television networks. Although faster than DSL, users share bandwidth within ‘neighbourhoods,’ and experience traffic bottlenecks.

A remote network of servers used to store, manage and process data. Many services use cloud-computing as an alternative to on-premise equipment or servers.

A device for decoding a stream of data or transmitting it for videoconferencing or streaming applications.

Occasionally, due to small technical issues, voice signals cross lines causing sound interference between calls.

Information encoded into signals for computational purposes.

DIA (Dedicated Internet Access)
A dedicated Internet connection with customizable performance and more reliability than regular connections.

The flow of data towards the user’s end.

Dropped Calls
Calls that are lost due to connection or Internet issues. Various problems can cause dropped calls including traffic bottlenecks, configuration or infrastructure issues.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
A type of Internet access that uses telephone lines to transmit digital data. it is most common among homes and small organizations where Internet use is marginal.

Ethernet Connection
The standard technology for creating a local network. It can transmit data at speed from 1 Mbps to 1000 Mbps.

A software or hardware link between two programs, computers or systems.

Hosted VOIP / Hosted PBX
A cloud-based voice over IP service. Phones and routers are provided and managed by a third-party. Rates are usually monthly, calculated by number of users.

IP (Internet Protocol)
A unique number that corresponds to each individual computer on the web, somewhat like an address or telephone number.

IP Telephony
The broad term for Internet-based communications that traditionally used telephone lines or other dedicated circuit-based networks.

MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching)
A way of directing data to network nodes through shorter pathways to avoid the longer, more complicated process of searching a routing table.

ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network)
The simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

The result of voice packets reaching their destination at slightly different times. It is usually caused by traffic bottlenecks, network latency or crosstalk.

LAN (Local Area Network)
two or more computers that are connected through an ethernet network.

Latency The time it takes between a signal’s entry point and its reception, usually measured in milliseconds for phone services.

MAC (Move, Add or Change)
Services that protect a client from changes in network structure, size or location. With MAC, clients receive management and support for any on-site moves or adjustments.

Mbps (Megabits Per Second)
A standard measure of connection bandwidth, but can also indicate connection speed.

Network Switch
A device that links segments or devices within a network, sending data to specific intended places.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange)
A private telephone network commonly used in large companies to avoid the cost and hassle of connecting a public line to each user.

POTS (Plain Old Telephone System)
A standard landline phone service or PBX.

Private Data Circuit
Also known as a Leased Line, it is a permanent, symmetric connection between a provider and a client. It allows for more privacy, unshared bandwidth and service guarantees.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)
The network of landlines, microwave towers, undersea cables and satellites that connect every telephone user in the world. The vast network is controlled by switch centers that determine the intended call destination.

QoS (Quality of Service)
In telecommunications, Quality of Service refers to the provider’s ability to guarantee certain levels of service performance including certain characteristics of call quality, bit rate, network uptime, number of calls dropped and more.

Network devices that forward data packets from one computer or network to another.

SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
A DSL-based data connection that allows for symmetrical upstream and downstream data flow.

Self-Managed VOIP
Self-managed VOIP is an on-site system managed internally by a company. It is also called On-Site VOIP, On-Premise VOIP and IP PBX.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
Signals that govern the initiation, control and termination of multimedia and conferencing programs.

SLA (Service Level Agreement)
A contract offered by service providers that protects clients from particular situations through service, support or repair guarantees.

Unified Communication
The full integration of an organization's communication technology including email, fax, messaging, data sharing, VOIP and conferencing. The user experience and interface is the same for each activity making it easier and more efficient to use the various outlets.

The flow of data towards the service provider’s end.

Voice Packets
Digitally encoded sounds that travel over the Internet and are converted back to sound at the receiver.

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
A communication technology that allows phone calls to be made over the Internet by converting sound into data packets.

VOIP Phones
The various kinds of phone equipment or phone software that allow voice communications over the Internet instead of over ordinary telephone lines. VOIP phones include IP phones that look like ordinary phones, or digital devices like computers or smartphones that can use VOIP software.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A private network of usually remote locations that is connected via the Internet.


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