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telecommunications jargon code
1st September 2017 0 Broadband

Telecomms Jargon: Decoded

The world of telecommunications is full of jargon and odd acronyms that even the most technologically-minded can’t get their heads around. If you struggle to remember what NTS stands for and can’t recall the difference between IP and VoIP, then check out our handy jargon-buster to ensure you can navigate the telecomms language with ease.

Common Acronyms:

ADSL: ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’. ADSL transforms the existing twisted copper pairs between the telephone exchange and the telephone socket into a high-speed digital line, allowing Broadband access. ADSL delivers fast download speeds but slow upload speed. Allows a standard telephone line to be used like a broadband line for transmission of large amounts of data.

BRI: ‘Basic Rate Interface’ (also see ISDN.) Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN offer two service levels. The lower capacity Basic Rate Interface is designed for home or small business use).

CDR: ‘Call Data Record’ – Daily and monthly call data files providing call information with associated charges.

CLI: ‘Calling Line Identification’ or Caller ID, allows inbound call number to be identified before answering (systems).

DDI: ‘Direct Dial Inbound’ – allows users to rent individual phone numbers without the need to rent individual lines. DDI’s are mapped onto specific ISDN lines and the PBX is then programmed to direct the incoming DDI call to the specific extension or hunt group as required. Customers can rent a large volume of DDI’s whilst benefiting from renting an optimum number of lines based on required usage.

DECT: ‘Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications’. A technology used to link cordless mobile handsets to a wired telephone system.

DEL: ‘Direct Exchange Line’ – see PSTN

FTP: File Transfer Protocol’ is the internet standard easing transfer of files between computers.

FTTC: ‘Fibre To The Cabinet’. This is a generic jargon term for any broadband service that uses fibre optic cable, in place of traditional copper wiring, to connect a telephone exchange to the ‘green cabinets’ in the surrounding roads. This means that copper wires are only used in the last few hundred metres between a green cabinet and a customer’s premises. Unlike copper, fibre does not suffer from signal loss over distance and so provides much faster download and upload bandwidth speeds.

GB: ‘Gigabyte’ -1GB is equal to approximately 1 billion bytes or exactly 1024MB.

HD: High Definition’, relating to screen resolution

ICM: ‘Intercom’, an internal communications system.

ICT: You’re likely to have heard of this one if you went to school and had ICT classes. ICT stands for ‘Information and Communication Technology.’

IP: ‘Internet Protocol’. standard governing transmission of data via the Internet. A standardised method of transporting information across the Internet in packets of data. It is often linked to Transmission Control Protocol, which assembles the packets once they have been delivered to the intended location.

IP Telephony: Using Internet Protocol as a method of carrying voice calls. With IP, voice communications (in the form of IP packets) are routed directly from the origin to destination devices.

ISDN: ‘Integrated Services Digital Network’. Digital telephony service that gives better call quality, quicker connection times and DDI facilities. ISDN is generally provided to connect to a customer’s phone. ISDN can also be used in Radio and was historically used for faster Internet connection before the advent of broadband.

LAN: ‘Local Area Network’. Data network that connects computers, servers, printers etc together, generally within one physical location.

MB: ‘Megabyte’ – A unit of digital information equal to 1,048,576 bytes or 1024 kilobytes.

MPLS: ‘Multi Protocol Label Switching’ – A flexible and cost effective way of providing a WAN.

NTS: ‘Number Translation Services’ – the service of routing a telephone call with a non-geographic number beginning with 07, 08, or 09 to a hidden geographic or mobile number.

POTS: ‘Plain Old Telephone Service’ (also see PSTN)

PSTN: ‘Public Switched Telephone Network’. This is the standard telephone service provided over basic analogue phone lines. Also referred to as the Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) it provides the Internet’s infrastructure.

SDSL: ‘Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line’. The same as ASDL but provides the same speed/bandwidth in both directions. Useful for companies needing to upload high bandwidth packets quickly. Common requirement with VOIP networks.

SIP: ‘Session Initiation Protocol’. It is essentially a communications protocol used to set up and clear down sessions with one or more users over the internet. Can be used in a multitude of scenarios, but most common is in the initiation  and termination of Voice over IP calls.

SIP Trunks: Basically an internet phone line. Part of the broadband bandwidth is allocated solely for a VoIP call.  Each VoIP call requires one SIP trunk but a good quality broadband service can accommodate multiple SIP trunks.  SIP trunks are much cheaper to rent than traditional phone lines.

SLA: ‘Service Level Agreement’ – part of a service contract where the level of service is formally defined. In practice, the term SLA is sometimes used to refer to the contracted delivery time (of the service) or performance.

SMS:Short Message Service’, protocol enable brief text communication between mobile telephones.

SMTP: ‘Simple Mail Transfer Protocol’. The standard Internet protocol for transferring electronic mail from one computer to another.

VC:Video Conferencing’, a combination of voice, video and data collaboration in one solution.

VLAN:Virtual Local Area Network’ where PC location is not defined by physical location but, say, user type or application, allowing administrators to better manage loading and bandwidth.

VPN: ‘Virtual Private Network’ – A way of creating a private communications network over a public network (mostly the internet) using secure protocols (passwords, authentication methods etc).

VOIP: ‘Voice Over Internet Protocol’ – Voice translated into data packets and transmitted across an internet connection or network – just like any other file or email you might send. Upon reaching the other end data is transformed back into its original form and emerges like a regular phone call.

WAN: ‘Wide Area Network’ – Connects multiple LAN’s together, typically via VPN’s over broadband and/or Leased Lines – (The Internet is actually a WAN itself)

2G: The name usually given to original GSM, CDMA, and TDMA networks. It uses the spectrum more efficiently than analog (1G) systems, and offers digital encryption of conversations. 2G networks introduced data services for mobiles starting with SMS.

3G: 3G is loosely defined, but generally includes high data speeds, always-on data access, and greater voice capacity.

4G: 4G is the fourth faster generation of mobile phone mobile communications standards.


Other useful terms:

Auto Attendant: An automated system designed to guide a caller through the options of a voice menu. Typically set to answer and route incoming calls.

Bandwidth: The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. FCC rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.

Broadband: A term used to describe fast internet access. Wide bandwidth which can be either ADSL or SDSL. ADSL can suffer from vast bandwidth changes (see also Contention Ratio).

Call Barring: Stops certain calls being made from your phone.

Call Deflection: Enables incoming calls to be identified and then forwarded to another destination before answering the call. Alternatively, incoming calls can be automatically forwarded to selected destinations dependent on their calling line identity.

Call Forwarding: Automatically transfers incoming calls to a different location, e.g. if moved to a different exchange area. Can either be admin provided or customer controlled.

Call Hold: A service feature that enables a user to retain an existing call, while accepting or originating another call using the same handset or phone device. The held call is tied to the handset that placed the call on hold and, therefore, can only be taken out of hold from the same handset.

Call Park: A service feature that allows a user to place an active call on ‘hold’ at one telephone handset and then retrieve the call, from any other handset within the same phone network. The call is effectively placed in a ‘parking bay’ and is allocated a parking bay number, e.g. 101. Users can then pick up another handset on the same network and type in the bay number to retrieve the held call.

Call Transfer: A service feature that allows a user to place a call on hold whilst, simultaneously, transferring the call to another destination. The destination can typically be both an internal or external telephone.

Convergence: Historically, Voice & Data networks were kept entirely separate. However in recent years, changes in technology have meant that many businesses can now run both voice and data over the same LAN, thereby causing them to ‘converge’. Cost savings are one benefit of Convergence but far more importantly there are significant productivity and efficiency gains to be achieved. VOIP, IP Telephony, Unified Messaging, Remote Working etc all come under the ‘Convergence’ umbrella.

Ethernet: A very common method of networking computers in a LAN. An ‘Ethernet’ describes the physical network that carries data traffic.

Leased Line: Dedicated private internet access circuit – provides secure, fast and un-contended internet access.

Presentation Number: Enables the option of “masking” the main outbound number of a telephone line with a different number. This option is useful for call centres or companies that are located in obscure locations and don’t want end users to know their physical location or if they want to present a non-geographic number to the customers they are calling. For example, a company has a simple 0207 number but they want an 0845 number to be displayed to every end user that they call.

Roaming: Refers to using a mobile phone outside of your service provider’s coverage area i.e. outside the UK. Typically, service providers charge higher fees for calls, messages and access to the Internet.

Router: A device (or, in some cases, software on a computer) that directs IP packets to the next point toward their destination.

Three Way Calling: Allows you talk to two people at the same time – even if one of them is abroad!

Unified Messaging: Enables you to access voice, fax, and text messages via one single email or telephone account.

Do you have a question about telecommunications jargon or think you might like to know more about one of our services? Get in touch with the Just Telecomms team today!