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 queue until a station becomes available.

Acoustic Coupler

This is a special cradle in which you place the handset of a phone. This is connected to a modem, and the modem accesses the phone line through this coupler. Modern modems connect directly to the phone line.


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. Analogue data often comes from measurements, like a sine wave. The opposite of analog is digital.


A transmission method in which information is transferred one discrete character at a time and is delineated by a start and stop indicator at the beginning and end of the character. This way, if there is line noise, the modem can find out right away where the next byte should start. The opposite of asynchronous is SYNCHRONOUS transmission.

ATM (Asynchronous transfer mode)

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 standardised packets which can be managed uniformly within the network.

Auto Attendant

An AA will often include a directory which will allow a caller to dial by name in order to find user on a system. There is no standard format to these directories, and they can use combinations of first name, last name, or both. The following lists common routing steps that are components of an automated attendant :

Transfer to Extension

Transfer to Voicemail

Play Message (i.e. "our address is ..." or advertise a promotion or special offer)

Go To a Sub Menu

Repeat Choices Attendant

An operator of a PBX console or telephone switchboard.


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.

Baud Rate

A term referring to the speed at which modems communicate.


The smallest unit of digital information utilised by electronic or optical information processing, storage, or transmission systems. Bit is short for binary digit.


Bits Per Second. The transmission speed of most modems is measured in baud or bps. Bps is literally the number of bits sent by the modem every second.

Business Broadband

Usually associated with provision of Broadband to business customers as opposed to providing a service to residential customers.


The smallest unit of information that a computer system can locate within its data storage or memory. A byte consists of eight bits and represents an amount of information roughly equivalent to a single printed or typewritten character.

Call Forwarding

A feature permitting the user to program a phone to ring at an alternate location; call forwarding may be in effect at all times or just when a particular phone is busy or doesn't answer.

Call Hold

A feature allowing the user to put one caller on hold while other calls are made or answered.

Call Park

A feature allowing a call for a busy extension to be put into a hold-like state until someone at that extension or another extension becomes free to answer it. The call is brought out of "park" by dialling a special code.

Call Transfer

A feature allowing a call to be transferred to another phone

Call Waiting

A feature that provides audible or visual indicators to let a single-line-phone user know that she has another call waiting for her.

Caller ID

A telephone company service allowing the subscriber to view the phone number and/or name of the calling party on a display device before answering the phone. Caller ID usually requires some kind of hardware phone interface to provide the displayed information.


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.

Carrier Detect

The information as to whether or not the modem senses a carrier, like a fixed-line dialling tone or a data/fax services enabled on a GSM subscription.


In communications and networking, a fixed-size packet of data. In cellular telephone systems, a geographic area.


Refers to communications systems, especially the Advance Mobile Phone Service (AMPS), that divide a geographic region into sections, called cells. The purpose of this division is to make the most use out of a limited number of transmission frequencies. For digital communications, several competing cellular systems exist, including GSM and CDMA.


A number that represents a larger group of numbers in order to check for errors in data transmission. It is commonly used when downloading a program, as well as in error control protocols. The checksum is the result of a mathematical equation, such as adding all the numbers in a block together (although it is usually more complex than that).

Chip Set

A group of important IC chips on a modem (or other computer peripheral) that are all made by the same manufacturer. While there are many companies that make modems, there are only a few that make the chips for them.


Caller Line ID Presentation. A code that is sent over the phone lines in some areas when a person makes a phone call. This code includes the phone number of the person making the call. Some modems are able to understand this signal, and let you know who is calling you before you answer the phone.


Caller Line ID Restriction. The ability to block someone who you're calling from seeing your number.

Codec (Coder/Decoder)

A device that transforms analog input into a digitally coded output and transforms digital signals into analog output. They are most commonly found in videoconferencing systems because of videoconferencing's intensive ISDN usage.

Common Carrier

A government-regulated private company offering telecommunications services or communications facilities to the general public.


To make data take up less space. Archiving programs do this, which means that files will take less time to transfer with modems. Many modems now have the ability to automatically compress the information they send and receive.

Conference Call

A telephone call among three or more parties. The sound quality of conference calls is typically degraded by a loss of sound over the telephone lines unless bridged and amplified before re-transmission.

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.

Data Transmission rate

The speed at which data travels. For example, data may be sent at 115,200bps. Same as transmission rate, transmission speed, data rate.

D Channel

The signalling and data transmission channel (specified in ISDN standards) used to transmit network control signals for setting up phone calls.

Dedicated Line

A communications circuit or channel provided for the exclusive use of a particular subscriber - also known as a private line.

DID (Direct Inward Dialling)

When a call is received over the DID circuit it is preceded by a packet of information containing the number that was dialled. The on premises phone system decodes this information and routes the call to the extension that has been programmed to coincide with the number dialled. The benefit to the consumer is a pooled access group for incoming calls so that dedicated lines are not required to provide numerous individual telephones with direct access availability.


A system using discrete numbers to represent data.

Digital Switch

Equipment used to set up pathways between users for transmission of digital signals.


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.


European Strategic Program for Research in Information Technologies.


A popular local area data communications network, originally developed by Xerox Corp., which accepts transmissions from computers and terminals.


Transmission lines, switches and other physical components used to provide telephone service.


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.

Fiber optic

A technology that uses glass (or plastic) threads (fibers) to transmit data. A fiber optic cable consists of a bundle of glass threads, each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated onto light waves. Fiber optics has several advantages over traditional metal communications lines. Fiber optic cables have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. This means that they can carry more data. Fiber optic cables are less susceptible than metal cables to interference. Fiber optic cables are much thinner and lighter than metal wires. Data can be transmitted digitally (the natural form for computer data) rather than analogically.

The main disadvantage of fiber optics is that the cables are expensive to install. In addition, they are more fragile than wire and are difficult to split. Fiber optics: is a particularly popular technology for local-area networks. In addition, telephone companies are steadily replacing traditional telephone lines with fiber optic cables. In the future, almost all communications will employ fibre optic technology.


A network element interconnecting two otherwise incompatible networks, network nodes, subnetworks or devices.


What occurs when a cell phone used in a car moves out of the range of one cell and needs to connect to the next available cell. The preceding cell then hands over the connection to the stronger cell.


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.

IP telephony network

Internet telephony is a reference to communications services such as voice, facsimile, and voice-messaging applications which are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

IP Network

An IP network is a computer network made up of devices that support the Internet Protocol.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)

Switched network providing end - to -end digital connectivity for simultaneous transmission of voice and/or data over multiple multiplexed communications channels and employing transmission and out-of-band signalling protocols that conform to internationally defined standards.


The International Standards Organisation, the body responsible for setting world technical standards. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.


International Telecommunication Union based in Geneva, Switzerland.

IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

A generic term for transaction systems allowing phone callers to use an ordinary tone-dialling telephone to interact with a computer through speech or dialled instructions. Each response by the caller triggers another recorded message until the transaction is completed.


A socket, hole or opening mounted on a wall, switchboard or panel, into which a plug connector can be inserted to complete a connection.

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 characterised by manual selection of outgoing lines, their small size, and relatively low price.

LAN (Local Area Network)

A transmission network encompassing a limited area, such as a single building or several buildings in close proximity; widely used to link personal computers so that they can share information and peripheral devices.

LED (Light-Emitting Diode)

A semiconductor light source that emits light in the optical frequency band or the infrared frequency band.

Local loop Unbundling (LLU or LLUB)

The regulatory process of allowing multiple telecommunications operators to use connections from the telephone exchanges to the customers premises.

Measured Service

Term generally associated with providing local telephone service on a usage-sensitive basis with calls priced on the basis of two or more of the following usage elements: distance, duration, frequency, and time of day. It is the opposite of flat rate pricing.

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.

Mobility Extension

A methodology by which a mobile handset can be integrated into a VoIP network.

Modem (Modulator-Demodulator )

An electronic device that allows computers to communicate over standard telephone lines. It transforms digital signal into analog signal and transmits to another modem which then reconstructs the digital signal from the analog signal.

Music on hold (Custom) allows the user to:

Control content

Control music genre

Use the on hold time to sell to a captive audience

Through a reputable on hold company be fully licensed and legal for on hold playback

Reduce hang-ups and make the business look more professional

Network Architecture

A set of design principles defining the protocol, functions and logical components of a network and how they should perform.

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.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

The manufacturer of equipment that is resold by another vendor who usually substitute their name for that of the manufacturer on the product.


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.


The condition where a terminal or device capable of active connection with the facilities of a computer or communications network is in the disconnected or idle state.


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.


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 Standard

A computer or communications standard whose technical specifications are readily available to equipment manufacturers and other parties that want to incorporate the standard into their products or systems.

Open System

A computer or communications system whose technical specifications are readily available to distributors, users and other third parties that want to add value to the system by developing their own customised versions for use or resale. Open systems are widely cloned.

Packet Switched Network

A digital data transmission network that uses packet switching technology.

Packet Switching

Refers to protocols in which messages are divided into packets before they are sent. Each packet is then transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message.


A service designed to deliver numeric or alphanumeric messaging to a person whose location is uncertain - paging services make use of radio communications.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange)

A device that enables switching of multiple incoming and outgoing lines between multiple internal phones. In addition, the typical PBX provides for the selection of outside lines per user defined criteria.

PBX functions:

Functionally, the PBX performs four main call processing duties:

Establishing connections (circuits) between the telephone sets of two users (e.g. mapping a dialled number to a physical phone, ensuring the phone isn't already busy)

Maintaining such connections as long as the users require them (i.e. channelling voice signals between the users)

Disconnecting those connections as per the user's requirement

Providing information for accounting purposes (e.g. metering calls)

In addition to these basic functions, PBXs offer many other calling features and capabilities, with different manufacturers providing different features in an effort to differentiate their products.

A common but not exhaustive list of capabilities include (manufacturers may have a different name for each capability):

Auto attendant

Auto dialling

Automatic call distributor

Automated directory services (where callers can be routed to a given employee by keying or speaking the letters of the employee's name)

Automatic ring back

Call accounting

Call Blocking

Call forwarding on busy or absence

Call park

Call pick-up

Call transfer

Call waiting


Conference call

Custom greetings

Customised Abbreviated dialling (Speed Dialling)

Busy Override

Direct Inward Dialling

Direct Inward System Access (DISA) (the ability to access internal features from an outside telephone line)

Do not disturb (DND)

Follow-me, also known as find-me: Determines the routing of incoming calls. The exchange is configured with a list of numbers for a person. When a call is received for that person, the exchange routes it to each number on the list in turn until either the call is answered or the list is exhausted (at which point the call may be routed to a voice mail system).

Interactive voice response

Music on hold

Night service

Shared message boxes (where a department can have a shared voicemail box)

Voice mail

Voice message broadcasting

Voice paging (PA system)

Welcome Message


An interface location on a computer or communications system that provides a point of access for peripheral equipment, such as printers, voice mail, etc.

POTS Lines (Plain Old Telephone Service Lines)

Basic telephone lines whose primary purpose is the transmission of human speech.

Private Line

A telephone line that is linked directly to a user and is used exclusively by that user.

Private Network

A network that is designed for use exclusively by a person or organisation and usually does not have points of access from users external to the company.


A format or set of rules and conventions that control the format and relative timing of message transmission between two points on a computer network.


Public Switched Telephone Network. This is the regular phone lines that just about everybody uses.

Public Switched Network

A switching system that provides switching and transmission facilities to many customers.

Pulse Dialling

A method that some phones use to dial numbers. It involves a series of "clicks." Most modems support this type of dialling, which is the only type available in some remote areas. The other method of dialling is tone dialling.


A "holding room" for data or voice communications that are waiting to be processed by either the system or human intervention.


Research and Development in Advanced Communication in Europe.


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 number (in another city for example) without the caller be charged for long distance fees.


A modem can be reset. This will change any options (such as parity and speed) to the values that they have when the modem is first used. This can be useful if you change some values for the modem and aren't sure what they do, and then you find that the modem won't work. Resetting the modem will fix everything for you.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

An IETF-defined signalling protocol, widely used for controlling multimedia communication sessions such as voice and video calls over Internet Protocol (IP).

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).


Simply another word for 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.

Switched Line

A circuit which is routed through a circuit switched network.


Connecting the caller to the called party.

Synchronous Transmission

Transmissions of data at a fixed rate, eliminating the need for start and stop bits, because the receiver and transmitter work at the same rate.


A digital transmission link capable of handling 1.544 Mega bits per second.


28 T-1 lines (See T-1).

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Program)

Protocols linking dissimilar computers across networks. TCP/IP was developed by the Department of Defence


Short for Time Division Multiplexing, a type of multiplexing that combines data streams by assigning each stream a different time slot in a set. TDM repeatedly transmits a fixed sequence of time slots over a single transmission channel. Within T-Carrier systems, such as T-1 and T-3, TDM combines Pulse Code Modulated (PCM) streams created for each conversation or data stream.


Sort for Time Division Multiple Access, a technology for delivering digital wireless service using time-division multiplexing (TDM). TDMA works by dividing a radio frequency into time slots and then allocating slots to multiple calls. In this way, a single frequency can support multiple, simultaneous data channels. TDMA is used by the GSM digital cellular system.


Process of converting sounds and data into electrical impulses that can be transmitted (See Telephony).


Using a communications link to perform work, rather than actually commuting to an office to do work.


A conference which links people by audio and/or video through telecommunications.


Using the telephone as a primary means of initiating and making sales of products or services.


The process of converting sounds into electrical impulses for transmission over a connecting medium such as wires, fiber optics or microwave.

Tie Line

A telephone line which is dedicated to connecting two points and which requires a minimum human intervention to achieve communication.

Token Ring

A method of controlling which of several work stations in a Local Area Network is transmitting at a particular time.


The line of communication between switching systems.


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.

Virtual PBX

A hosted PBX offering remote office users, small businesses, and home-based businesses an alternative to purchasing, installing and maintaining their own PBX hardware on site. This allows these companies to have access to similar features that a larger company would have without the high costs normally associated with the purchase of on-site PBX equipment.


Video teleconferencing (See teleconferencing).

Voice Response

A computer allowing users interaction via touchtone telephone. Users navigate the system with the help of digitally read menus.

Voice over IP (VoIP)

A general term for a family of transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications over IP networks such as the Internet or other packet-switched networks. Other terms frequently encountered and synonymous with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, and broadband phone.


World Wide Web.


World Wide Web. A hypertext system set up on the Internet.

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.


The Wireless Application Protocol is a secure specification that allows users to access information instantly via handheld wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smart-phones and communicators.


An ethernet connection that uses UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) wiring.

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