Jargon Buster


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3G - Third Generation (technology)
3G (or 3-G) is short for third-generation technology. It is used in the context of mobile phone standards. The services associated with 3G provide the ability to transfer simultaneously both voice data (a telephone call) and non-voice data (such as downloading information, exchanging email, and instant messaging). In marketing 3G services, video telephony has often been used as the killer application for 3G.


ACD - Automatic Call Distribution
An automated system for answering, queuing and distributing incoming calls to a number of agents. Popular in call centres, ACD systems also provide statistics, such as the number of calls waiting, average length of call queue etc, which can be incorporated into historical reports or displayed in real time on electronic wallboards.

ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
A broadband technology that delivers high data transfer speeds over existing phone lines

ATM - Asynchronous Transfer Mode
A transmission and switching technique capable of supporting voice, video and data (Multimedia) communications. It is unique in that each piece of information is addressed and is of the same length. This allows very high-speed communications.

Auto Attendant
An automated answering system that uses prompts to direct callers to the correct department or extension - e.g. "For Support press 1"


A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network. The term is relative since a backbone in a small network will probably be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.

How much you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits per second. A full page of English text is roughly 16,000 bits. A fast modem can move about 57,000 bits per second whereas full-motion, full screen video would require some 10,000,000 bits per second, depending on compression.

Basic Rate ISDN2 provides one D channel and two B channels, each of which is equivalent to a normal telephone line. These can provide up to two simultaneous calls and, as each channel can transmit data at speeds of 64Kbps, this represents a data transfer rate of 128Kbps.


Call Forwarding
A feature of telephone systems, call forwarding allows incoming calls to be diverted automatically to a different number, for example a mobile phone or a home office.

CEM - Customer Experience Management
Software solutions that improve the effectiveness and performance of employees within customer service and contact centre environments. Performance management and eLearning packages which identify individual learning needs and offer immediate eLearning solutions to enhance the customer's experience.

CLI - Calling Line Identity
One of the key ISDN features, CLI displays the phone number of the caller on the answering phone's display. CLI alpha tagging also shows the caller's name and company. CLI is the enabling feature of many computer telephony integration applications.

Contact Centre or Call Centre
A contact/call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers. Outgoing calls for telemarketing, clientele, and debt collection are also made.

A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a server software programme on another computer, often across a vast distance. Each client programme is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of server programme, and each server requires a specific kind of client. A web browser is a specific kind of client.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management
Generic term for applications designed to streamline interactions with customers. CRM software allows call centre agents to access a customer's service history from the back-office customer account packages. Small businesses are waking up to the advantages of CRM solutions that integrate with their PCs. The Internet, Email, IVR, voice and interactive TV have sparked a seismic shift towards web-enabled call centres, opening up a new dimension in offering good service.

CTI - Computer Telephony Integration

The term used to describe the linking of the telephone system with a computer or network. The classic CTI application is "screen popping", which uses CLI to identify the caller and display his/her database records on the screen before the call is answered. CTI also enables calls to be made directly from a contact management package by simply clicking the call button. There are two types of CTI: first party CTI, a standalone solution that requires each PC to be connected to a telephone, and third party CTI, a multiple terminal solution requiring a single link between the telephone system and the network.


DDI - Direct Dial Inwards

A key ISDN feature is the ability to assign individual phone numbers (DDI Numbers) to extensions and departments, enabling callers to dial them directly without having to go through the operator. 

DECT - Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephony 
DECT cordless handsets provide wireless communications within an office or company premises. The handsets can be fully integrated with the company phone system, allowing users to make, take and transfer calls securely as they move around the premises.

DPNSS - Digital Private Network Signalling System

A private networking standard developed by BT and other PBX suppliers which allows full feature access to be provided between PBXs in private networks.

DSL - Digital Subscriber Line

DSL provides digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. Typically, the download speed of DSL ranges from 128 kilobits per second (kbit/s) to 24,000 kbit/s depending on DSL technology and service level implemented. 

DSS - Direct Station Select 
A button on a terminal that can be used to directly dial a person or extension associated with that button.

DTMF - Dual Tone Multi Frequency

Signalling which is the basis for the operation of pushbutton telephone sets. Dialled numbers are transmitted as tones rather than electronic pulses. This is particularly useful for access to supplementary services (e.g. voicemail and auto attendants).



A method used to secure data that is transferred over the Internet by scrambling it in such a way that only the intended recipient of the message can read its contents.


E-procurement (Electronic Procurement) is the business-to-business purchase and sale of supplies and services through the Internet as well as other information and networking systems.


A common method of networking computers in a LAN. There is more than one type of Ethernet (See LAN). 

Euro ISDN 
A name for ISDN as defined by the relevant European ETSI standards


An Intranet that is accessible to computers that are not physically part of a company's own private network, but that is not accessible to the general public - for example, to allow vendors and business partners to access a company web site.



A security system that prevents computers on a network from communicating directly with computers on another network. Instead, all communication is routed through a proxy server, which determines whether a particular message or file may pass to or from the host.



A hardware or software set up that translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example AOL has a gateway that translates between its internal, proprietary eMail format and Internet eMail format. Another meaning is to describe any mechanism for providing access to another system.


Hiper LAN

A wireless LAN protocol developed by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) akin to 802.11. There are two types of Hiper LAN, both operating in the 5GHz band. Hiper LAN/1 provides data-rates up to 20 Mbps and Hiper LAN/2 data rates up to 54 Mbps.


Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers. It is common to have one host machine provide several services, such as SMTP (eMail) and HTTP (Web).

Hosting/Hosted IP Telephony

This means that a reseller/supplier "host" all of the hardware infrastructure (I.e. Telephone PBX) in a secure central site and provide customers with access to this over a IP network. No hardware telephone system is required on the customer site. VoIP, Voicemail, Voice Recording, Video, Data and Website can all be hosted.


Abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language, a language used for creating documents for the World Wide Web. HTML uses special code that tells Web browsers how to display elements such as text and images in a document.


Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

An Internet service provider maintains a server that is directly connected to the Internet. You must connect through a service provider unless you are directly connected to the Internet. Connecting to a service provider entails calling the provider and setting up a PPP account.

IP - Internet Protocol

The signalling standard used to transmit data across the Internet and LANs. IP uses packet switching techniques to send data in small chunks (packets).

IPVPN - Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network

See IP & VPN.


A private network inside a company or organization that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet, but which is only for internal use.

IP Telephony

The use of IP signalling methods to send voice traffic across a data network. Voice signals are broken down into packets and reassembled at the receiving end. This eliminates the need for separate voice and data networks by converging all traffic on one network.

IP gateway - VoIP Gateway

A gateway for an existing telephone system, which converts normal circuit-switched telephony traffic into IP for transmission over a data network, such as a private data network between two sites.

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network

ISDN is a dial up digital public network for voice and data communications with charges based on line rental and usage 

ISDN provides a number of advanced telephony services, such as CLI and DDI, which form the basis of today's advanced telephony applications. It is available in two forms: Basic Rate ISDN2e (2 channels) and Primary Rate ISDN30e (30 channels). 

IVR - Interactive Voice Response 
IVR systems automate routine transactions, such as requests for literature or information by using voice recognition or phone keypad operations.



Programming language that is mostly used in Web pages, usually to add features that make the page more interactive. When it is included in an HTML file it relies upon the browser to interpret the JavaScript. When it is combined with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and later versions of HTML (4.0 and later) the result is often referred to as DHTML (Dynamic HTML).

JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEG is most commonly mentioned as a file format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.



A thousand bytes (Usually 1024 bytes)


LAN - Local Area Network

A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.

LAN Interconnection

Using ISDN an organization can connect LANs at different locations into a WAN (Wide Area Network) on a dial up basis, without the need for a permanent, expensive, leased data link.

LAN telephony

The convergence of voice and data on a LAN, eliminating the need for separate voice and data networks within an organization.

LCR - Least Cost Routing

Least cost routing (LCR) is the process that provides customers with cheap telephone calls. Within a telecoms carrier, an LCR team could choose routes from between twenty to over one hundred suppliers for national and internal numbers on a weekly or even daily basis to maintain a competitive cost base and acceptable call quality. The LCR team also has to take route and call quality into account. The quality of route to a destination can vary considerably between suppliers and even from week to week from the same supplier.
Leased Line 
Lines such as a telephone line or fibre optic cable that is rented for exclusive 24/7 use from your location to another location. The highest speed data connections require a leased line.


MPLS - Multiprotocol Label Switching

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a data-carrying mechanism which emulates some properties of a circuit-switched network over a packet-switched network. It can be used to carry many different kinds of traffic, including IP packets, as well as native ATM, SONET, and Ethernet frames.



Any time you connect two or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network.

NGN - Non Geographical Number

The United Kingdom dialling code (08XX, 09XX) is defined by OFCOM as Special Services: Higher Rate. When originally introduced, it was to be charged at no more than BT's standard national rate. A non-geographic number does not relate to any particular location in the United Kingdom like a standard geographic (01 or 02) telephone number does.

NIC - Network Information Centre

Generally, any office that handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet was InterNIC, which was where most new domain names were registered until that process was decentralized to a number of private companies. Also means "Network Interface Card" which is the card in a computer into which you plug a network cable.


Open Source Software

Open Source Software is software for which the underlying programming is available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software to incorporate those changes. There are many types of Open Source Software, mainly differing in the licensing term under which (altered) copies of the source code may (or must) be redistributed.

OTA - Over the Air

Over the Air (OTA) is a programming method of distributing new software updates to cellphones or provisioning handsets with the necessary settings with which to access services such as WAP or MMS. Some phones with this capability are labelled as being "OTA capable."


Packet Switching

The method used to move data and voice around a network. In packet switching, all the data is broken up into chunks - each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the same lines and be sorted and directed along different routes by special machines along the way. In this way many people can use the same lines at the same time.

Point of Presence

A Point of Presence usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often with dial up phone lines.

Poe - Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet or PoE technology describes a system to transmit electrical power, along with data, to remote devices over standard twisted-pair cable in an Ethernet network. This technology is useful for powering IP telephones, wireless LAN access points, webcams, Ethernet hubs, computers, and other appliances where it would be inconvenient or infeasible to supply power separately.


Usually used as a marketing term to describe a web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when they are using the Web. Typically, a Portal site has a catalogue of web sites, a search engine or both. A Portal site may also offer Email and other services to entice people to use that site as their main "point of entry" to the web.

Predictive Dialling

A third party CTI application, predictive dialling removes all dialling responsibilities from an agent. Once a call has been completed the software automatically dials the next number on the agent's call list.

Primary Rate

ISDN (ISDN30e) provides up to 30 'B' channels, giving users 30 lines that can be used for any combination of voice, data and video.

PBX - Private Branch Exchange

A Private Branch exchange (also called PBX, Private Business exchange or PABX for Private Automatic Branch exchange) is a telephone exchange that is owned by a private business, as opposed to one owned by a common carrier or by a telephone company.

PSTN - Public Switched Telephone Network

The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the network of the world's public circuit-switched telephone networks, in much the same way that the Internet is the network of the world's public IP-based packet-switched networks. Originally a network of fixed-line analogue telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital, and now includes mobile as well as fixed telephones.


QoS - Quality of Service

Used to provide acceptable voice quality across IP networks 

The protocol for networking telecommunications systems from different manufacturers.



A special purpose computer or software package that handles the connection between two or more packet switched networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the source and destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.


SAN - Storage Area Network

A storage area network (SAN) is a network designed to attach computer storage devices such as disk array controllers and tape libraries to servers.

S Bus

Device used to connect data terminals such as video conferencing units to ISDN lines.

SDSL - Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line

The main difference between ADSL and SDSL is that SDSL has the same upstream data transfer rate as downstream (symmetrical), whereas ADSL always has smaller upstream bandwidth (asymmetrical). It is quite expensive.


A computer, or software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software or to the machine on which the software is running. A single server machine can have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different services to clients on the network.

SIP - Session Initiation Protocol

An Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard, SIP is an open, Internet genuine protocol for establishing and maintaining multi-party, mixed media sessions over converged networks. SIP enables the creation and deployment of feature rich services that go far beyond simple VoIP calls.

Soft PBX

The term used to describe a software application that provides server based telephony. Performing similar functions to a hardware PBX, Soft PBXs offer a range of PBX functions, voicemail and integration with other server based applications such as Unified Messaging and contact management systems.


A softphone is a piece of software for making telephone calls over the Internet using a general purpose computer, rather than using dedicated hardware. Often a softphone is designed to behave like a traditional telephone, sometimes appearing as an image of a phone, with a display panel and buttons with which the user can interact. A softphone is usually used with a headset connected to the sound card of the PC, with a USB phone or with a "Plain Old Telephone" connected to the PC using an adapter.

Structured Cabling

A structured cabling system comprises standards-compliant components, such as wall outlets and connections, and the cable itself, which is likely to be Category 5e UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) copper cabling along the floor, often leading to multimode fibre-optic cable in the backbone or vertical riser of the building. 

Category 5 is currently installed in most buildings that have a structured cabling system. 

Category 5e is heralded as the solution guaranteeing access to broadband technologies and is fast becoming the cabling of choice. 

Category 6 is today's premium UTP cabling and supports even more bandwidth and even faster speeds.


TAPI - Telephone Application Programme Interface

Developed by Microsoft, 1st and 3rd party TAPI are the standard interfaces for CTI applications.


A work arrangement in which employees enjoy limited flexibility in working location and hours. In other words, the daily commute to a central place of work is replaced by telecommunication links. Telework is a broader term, referring to substituting telecommunications for any form of work-related travel, thereby eliminating the distance restrictions of telecommuting.


Unified Messaging

Unified Messaging (UM) systems provide one centralized mailbox for all eMail, voice and fax messages. All message types can be viewed, replied to, saved or deleted in the same Inbox using a familiar message management system such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. 

UPS - Uninterrupted Power Supply 
A UPS will protect your IT and comms when the power has failed or if there is a dip or temporary drop out, but in most cases that's all it’s designed to do. Unless there are other protection devices fitted to the UPS then it won't protect against surges or from damage that can be caused by harmonic distortion on the LV network.



The videoconferencing market essentially splits into three broad segments - endpoints, infrastructure and installation - with further segmentation in the endpoint (personal, set-top and group systems) and the infrastructure (i.e. H320, H323, gateways, gatekeepers) sectors. Increasingly, videoconferencing is being merged into a broader market, called digital video communications, with major manufacturers now moving to supply video, audio and data communications in integrated packages to companies and to move their offerings away from ISDN systems towards IP networks.

VLAN - Virtual Local Area Network

A virtual LAN, commonly known as a vLAN or as a VLAN, is a method of creating independent logical networks within a physical network. Several VLANs can co-exist within such a network. A VLAN consists of a network of computers that behave as if connected to the same wire - even though they may actually be physically connected to different segments of a LAN.

VPN - Virtual Private Network

Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the voice and data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is "virtually" private. Organizations with offices in more than one location can link phone systems in a VPN. Using a linked numbering plan, a staff member in one location can dial a colleague at another office just by dialling their extension number.


Voicemail systems allow callers to leave voice messages in individual mailboxes. Messages can be retrieved remotely.

(Voice Over IP)

The transmission of voice traffic over a wide area network or the Internet using the IP signalling standard (See IP Gateway


WAN - Wide Area Network

Any Internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or site.
Web Browser 
An application such as Microsoft Internet Explorer that enables you to view web pages on the World Wide Web, on another network or on your computer. A browser also enables you to jump from one web page to another by following links and to download files from the Internet to your computer.

WLR - Wholesale Line Rental

In 2002, Oftel required BT to provide a Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) product. WLR is intended to stimulate competition by allowing alternative suppliers such as Echo to provide an integrated service comprising calls and access, renting the exchange line from BT and sending customers a single bill. WLR service providers should have the same opportunity to compete in the marketplace as BT. This means that BT’s retail activities should not benefit from privileged access to select services and line features supplied by BT at the wholesale level if they are material to competition and BT has market power in these areas. These existing services and features should be made available to WLR providers.

WLAN - Wireless Local Area Network

The wireless extension to the wired LAN is a growing market. More organizations have people on the road that need touchdown areas in the office. Wireless is the easiest way to facilitate this. There is also the roaming factor where people need to roam within buildings and need access to central systems. The standard on which most WLANs are currently based is 802.11b. It is a revision of 802.11 standard allowing data rates up to 11Mbps in the 2.4Ghz ISM band. 

Wireless Standards 
802.11b - The standard on which most WLAN's are currently based. It is a revision of 802.11 standard allowing data rates up to 11 Mbps in the 2.4Ghz ISM Band. 

802.11a - A revision of 802.11 that operates in the unlicensed 5 GHz band and allows transmission rates of 54 Mbps. 802.11a uses orthogonal frequency multiplexing as opposed to FHSS or DSSS. Higher data rates are available by combining channels. Due to higher frequency, range is less than lower frequency systems and can increase the cost of the overall solution because a greater number of access points may be required. 802.11a is not directly compatible with 802.11b or 802.11g networks. Multi mode NICs will solve this problem. 

802.11g - An extension to 802.11b, 802.11g will broaden 802.11b's data rates to 54 Mbps within the 2.4 GHz band using OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology. An 802.11b radio card will interface directly with an 802.11g access point (and vice versa) at 11 Mbps or lower depending on range. Range at 54 Mbps is less than 802.11b access points operating at 11 Mbps.

WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy

A security protocol for WLANs. WEP was intended to provide the same level of security as that of a wired LAN. However, it has been found that WEP is not as secure as once believed. WEP is used at the two lowest layers of the OSI and it therefore does not offer end-to-end security.

Wi-Fi - Wireless Fidelity

Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliances (WECA) brand identity for the IEEE 802.11b standard; WECA certification that ensures a product's compatibility. 

Wi-Fi5 - refers to WLAN products based upon the 802.11a specification operating in the 5Ghz radio frequency band. Only products that have passed WECAA interoperability testing are allowed to display the Wi-Fi5 certification logo.

WiMAX - Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) is defined by the WiMAX Forum to promote conformance and interoperability of the IEEE 802.16 wireless networks standard, officially known as WirelessMAN. WiMAX is described by the forum as a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL. It performs in a similar way to Wi-Fi being interoperable implementations of the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN standard. WiMAX will provide fixed, nomadic, portable and mobile wireless broadband connectivity without the need for direct line-of-sight with a base station. In a typical cell radius deployment of 3 - 10 kilometres.

Wireless Wide Area Network

Companies with more than one building on a campus or in close proximity in a city can use Wi-Fi technology - or higher frequency, higher speed radio technologies - to build wireless "bridges" between sites.


XML - extensible Markup Language

A widely used system for defining data formats. XML provides a very rich system to define complex documents and data structures such as invoices, molecular data, news feeds and so on. As long as a programmer has the XML definition for a collection of data (often called a schema) then they can create a programme to reliably process any data formatted according to those rules.