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The complete telecoms glossary

Do telecommunications terms have you in a state of confusion? Are you unsure of which services options you actually need for your business? Check out the complete telecoms glossary from TelcoCompare to help you determine your bonded T1s from your VoIP systems...


4G-5G wireless - A mobile telecommunications technology, with the number denoting the 4th generation. The capabilities of 4G-5G are defined by the ITU. 4G-5G applications include mobile web, IP telephony, HD mobile TV, 3D TV, cloud computing, and much more. at&t Verizon are leading the way with major metros opening by 2019.


ACD - This stands for Automatic Call Distribution. This feature is included in many premises-based phone systems as well as hosted phone systems.

ATM - Asynchronous transfer mode (also known as cell relay) is used in carrier grade communications technologies.

Audio Conferencing - A telephone call in which many people gather via multiple phone calls. This form of communication can support a one-to-many method or also a collaborative meeting. Attendees dial one number where all parties are congregated electronically.

Automated Attendant System - Also know as an 'electronic receptionist', this feature allows callers to be directed to selected people or departments via the caller’s selection of prompts on their phone without the need for a human receptionist.


Backup and Recovery - methods of duplicating valuable data both electronically and physically. Recovery is the process of restoring or replacing data from the backed up source once the original data has been lost or damaged.

Bandwidth - The rate of data transfer measured in bits in a time interval of one second. Bandwidth is associated with how fast information can be transferred. The more bandwidth you have the faster download speeds or upload speeds are. As an example, 10Mbps is < 100Mbps.

Bit - The smallest unit of measurement that quantifies digital computer data. A bit has a value of either zero or one.

Bonded T1 - The combining of more than one T1 bonding. T1s create added bandwidth in increments of 1.5.

Broadband - The transmission of high-speed data through a medium. Common modes of transmission include copper, fiber, coaxial cable, wireless and cellular transmission.

Byte - A unit of measurement that equals 8 bits of data. One byte originally represented one character.


Cable Internet - Broadband that is delivered typically (but not exclusively delivered) via coaxial cable. However, this is always from a cable provider.

Calling Cards - A service where consumers can buy access to long distance calling services via a prepaid card. This has access granted via tele-prompted access codes that authorize access.

CDN (Content Delivery) - a system of servers that are distributed. They allow the delivery of webpages and other web content to a user based on a geographic location that is near to the user of that content.

Cellular Communications - Communications that is delivered via wireless means in dedicated and registered spectrums

Centrex - Legacy service from phone providers which delivers the functionality and benefit of having a PBX without requiring a premises based system at the customers’ business. Features and functionality are delivered by the local exchange carrier, typically from the Central Office.

Cloud Computing - Computing power delivered via internet based computing. Cloud computing can be considered on-demand computing as it provides shared processing power to many. It also creates an incredible economy of scale and affordability to end-users that would otherwise not have access to that computing power if it needed to be individually procured.


Dark Fiber - Fiber that is available to be lit or utilized that is currently not being used.

Data Backup - Making a copy of your data, a backup has many formats, and many mediums, including cloud back-up. Many backup services on the internet are free up to a certain file size, and then charges can apply.

Dedicated Internet Access - Internet access that is not shared. It usually delivers committed download speeds and/or dedicated upload speeds. Also includes very critical business class dedicated internet services.


Ethernet Services - An Ethernet service is a broadband based service, and it can be delivered via copper or fiber and is provided by different carriers to individual businesses. speeds include 10Mbps, 100Mbps, etc.


Fiber Optics - A mode of transmission that is made of glass and conducts light to transfer data. It is the fastest mode of data transmission.

Fiber Internet - Internet service delivered over a fiber optic cable.


G711 - A common waveform of PCM that is commonly used in telecoms. G711 is uncompressed.

G729 - A compressed wave form algorithm for voice. Because of its low bandwidth utilization, it is used commonly in VoIP applications


High Speed Internet Access - Internet speeds that are very fast. Currently the fastest internet speeds available are gigabit speeds, such as 1000Mbs

Hosted PBX - A private branch exchange service that is delivered to customers via an internet connection. The cloud based PBX is the equivalent of having a phone system in the internet instead of in you phone closet. The features and controls are delivered solely through the internet connection.


Internet Access - Access to the internet typical delivered as a monthly service via internet service providers.

IP- This stands for 'Internet Protocol'. It is the method in which data is sent to one computer or another through the internet.

ISDN - Integrated Digital Signal Networks is a set of communication standards that transmit both voice and data traffic on the public switch telephone network ISDN. It integrats both voice and data signals in a digital manner via 23 b channels and 1 d channel for data. In the US, it was limited to a total of 64k per channel.


Local Area Network (LAN) - A network of computers in a small local area.

Local Voice Service - A voice service that does not incur inter-lata or intra-lata charges. Local areas were generally created by the governing bodies of telecoms.

Long Distance Service - A service that allows calls to be made outside of a defined local area.


Mbps - This stands for 'Megabits per second', a measure of data transfer speed.

Metro Ethernet - An Ethernet service in a metropolitan area.

MPLS - Multi Protocol Label Switching a protocol-agnostic routing technique. It allows companies to prioritize traffic over the network, speeding up traffic flows.


Optical Network - A network that utilizes optical equipment and fiber optics to transfer data.


Phone System - A system that consists of handsets and a central processor that interconnect all the handsets. This allows internal communications, as well as external communications to the PSTN via a traditional POTS service, T1-PPRI service and even SIP VoIP service.

Plain Old Telephone Service - Also know as 'POTS', it is the original and most traditional communications service. It's commonly referred to as 'wire line service'.

PRI - Primary Rate Interface is is based off of aT-carrier service, but it is a digital ISDN to be exact. PRI carries 23 DS0s voice, and 1 data channel for signaling.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) - The totality of the world's telephone networks that operate as circuit switched networks.


Routers - A computer network device that directs internet traffic functions. They join multiple computer networks together.


SaaS – This stands for 'software as a service'. It is where third-party providers host applications to them available over the internet.

SIP Services - A service that is delivered with Session Initiation Protocol.

SIP Trunks - Session Initiation Protocol trunks that are delivered to end users phone systems. A trunk must connect to a phone system that accepts SIP trunks.


T1 - Voice or data digital and/or both types of service delivered over twisted pairs of copper Bandwidth that is 1.5Mbs or 24 DS0s.

T3 - Voice or data digital and or both types of service delivered over twisted pairs of copper Bandwidth thatis 45Mbs or 792 DS0s.


Unified Communications (UC) - A set of features and services that allow communications over many different mediums in a complex array of devices, such as a call forwarding to voicemail. This then forwards via a wave file to email, which is then converted to a text file that is emailed.


Voice Mail - A solution that allows callers to receive or leave voice recording of their messages when call recipients are not able to answer the calls they are receiving.

VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol delivers voice communications over Internet Protocol networks, allowing you to make calls over the internet.

VPN - Virtual Private Network used to transfer data privately even in a public network.


Wide Area Networking (WAN) - A network that interconnects networks over large distances that would exceed physical and technical limitations of LAN based technology. WANs can be global in nature, or simply from one part of a city to another. WANs depend on telecom service providers and the public telecom infrastructures to exist.

WiFi - A wireless Local Are Network typically utilizing 802.11 standards.

January 10, 2019