Definitions for common telecommunications terms:
- ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)
Promotes competition and fair trade in the market place to benefit consumers, businesses and the community. It also regulates national infrastructure services. (www.accc.gov.au)
- ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority)
A statutory authority within the federal government portfolio of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The ACMA is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the Internet, radio communications, and telecommunications. (www.acma.gov.au)
- ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
A switching technology to increase transmission speed in a copper cable. It is called asymmetric because the download and upload speeds are not symmetrical. ADSL allows higher speed transmission downstream (1.5 Mbps – 9 Mbps), but has significantly lower speed (16 Kbps – 800 Kbps) in the other direction. As a ‘permanently on’ system, ADSL allows the multiplexing of voice data on the same bandwidth. This technology therefore allows a telecommunications carrier which has an existing telephone network to transmit data services including internet services and video services, by squeezing more data capacity through the copper wire.
Adds new features and functionality to ADSL that are targeted at improving performance and interoperability, plus it adds support for new applications and services. The changes include improvements in ADSL’s data rate, an increase in the distance ADSL can reach from the local telephone exchange, better resistance to noise, and a stand-by mode to save power.
Doubles the bandwidth used for downstream data transmission, effectively doubling the maximum downstream data rates, and achieving rates of 20 Mbps on telephone lines. ADSL2+ solutions interoperate with both ADSL and ADSL2.
- Answer Point
For Inbound numbers, the number(s) to which you want your calls routed. An answer point can be any mobile or fixed line number, including phones, fax machines, and live answering services.
- Auto Attendant
Telecommunications that provides multiple channels of data over a single communication medium. Broadband networks have the capacity to deliver services including television, video telephony, video mail and video conferencing, along with high speed transmission of data, text and graphics.
- Call Barring
You can block unwanted phone calls, for example from a specific person or location. This not only helps to save you time, by eliminating unwanted calls, it can also save you money on your Inbound Number by eliminating calls from locations that your business does not service.
- Call Centre
A centralised office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. Common call centre services include live answering, customer support, and telemarketing.
- Call Forwarding
A feature on some telephone services that allows incoming call to be redirected to a different phone number (either mobile or land line). Options often exist to forward the call only under certain circumstances (e.g. the line is busy or is not answered with xx seconds).
- Call Splaying
Incoming calls can be shared between multiple answer points (based on a pre-set ratio). This is a useful tool to help distribute calls, for example to share potential leads among the sales team, or to help free up customer service representatives by distributing work evenly.
- Call Waiting
An option that tells you if a new caller is trying to contact you while you are already on the phone (usually in the form of a discrete tone).
- Caller ID
An option that transmits the caller’s number to your telephone, and displays the number (and name if known) prior to the call being answered.
A telephone or other company that sells or rents telecommunications transmission services.
A communications path through the network that you can talk or send data over. It can refer to either a physical transmission medium such as a wire, or a logical connection such as a radio channel.
- CSP (Communications Service Provider)
A service provider of telecommunications services such as telephony and data communications access.
- DID (Direct Inward Dialing)
The ability for an outside caller to directly dial a PBX extension without the need to go through a receptionist or IVR/auto-attendant system.
- DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
A family of technologies that provides digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. ADSL is the most commonly used and best known variety of DSL.
- DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer)
Allows telephone lines to make faster connections to the Internet. It is a network device, located in the telephone exchanges of the Internet Service Providers that connects multiple DSLs to a high-speed Internet backbone line using multiplexing techniques. By placing additional remote DSLAMs at locations remote to the telephone exchange, telephone companies provide DSL service to locations previously beyond effective range.
- Duet Line (Phone/Fax Duet)
A service that allows you to add a fax number to your existing phone line, providing separate phone and fax numbers without installing a second line.
A “virtual” service that allows you to receive faxes without the need for a real fax machine. Faxes are received at a central server, and are then converted (usually to PDF) before being forwarded to your designated email address. (Email2Fax services work in the same way, allowing you to send faxes via email.)
Cable incorporating a number of very thin strand of glass on which information is conveyed in the form of pulses of light. Optical fibre can be used as a medium for telecommunication and networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications, because light propagates through fibre with little attenuation compared to electric cables. This allows long distances to be spanned with few repeaters. It has advantages over traditional copper wire, in that it carries more information, and is not affected by electromagnetic interference. The NBN is a fibre optic network.
- Free Call
A number that is free for the caller to dial, where the business receiving the call pays the entire cost. (Also call a “reverse charge” and “toll free” calls.) 1800 numbers are examples of free call numbers.
A device connected to your network that allows it to communicate with other networks (that may use different protocols).
- Hosted PBX
A “virtual” PBX, in that the business using it does not need to purchase their own PBX equipment. Instead, they purchase the required number of lines from a telco that pays for and hosts the actual PBX in its own data centre. The benefit of this for small business is that they can get the benefits of a PBX for an affordable price, and can upgrade their service (and increase their number of lines) at any time.
- Hunt Group
A group of telephone channels configured so that if the first is busy (engaged), the call goes to the next channel, and if that channel is busy, it goes to a third channel, and so on. It is rotated through the pool of lines until a free line is found and the caller is connected. The caller hears a busy tone only when all lines are engaged.
- Inbound Number
These are “virtual” numbers that customers dial to call your business. These numbers are routed to real numbers at which the call is answered (e.g. land line, mobile, live answering service, fax machine). These numbers are portable, and can be moved from office to office, and from telco to telco, as your business needs change. 13 numbers, 1300 numbers and 1800 numbers are examples of Inbound Numbers.
- IP (Internet Protocol)
The protocol by which data is addressed to be sent from one computer to another on the Internet.
- IP Address
The identification for a computer or device on a network that uses the Internet Protocol (IP) for communication. It serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. The format of an IP address is a 32-bit numeric address written as four numbers separated by periods. Each number can be zero to 255.
- IP Telephony
- ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
A set of communications standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network. Prior to ISDN, the phone system was viewed as a way to transport voice, with some special services available for data. The key feature of ISDN is that it integrates speech and data on the same lines.
- ISDN 2/10/20/30
A service that provides multiple digital phone lines or channels. ISDN 2 is mainly used for businesses that need up to 8 phone lines (available with 2, 4, 6 or 8 phone lines or channels). ISDN 10/20/30 are larger capacity services that can carry up to 30 individual lines or channels. ISDN 10/20/30 is also known as Primary Rate PRA Digital ISDN service or On Ramp.
- ISP (Internet Service Provider)
A company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs connect customers to the Internet using copper, wireless or fibre connection.
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
An automated answering system that routes calls to the appropriate place, based on user defined steps and responses to prompts. For example, a typical IVR answers the call in the company name, and then provides a contact menu: “To speak to sales, press 1; to speak to support, press 2;” and so on.
- Land line
Also called fixed line, main line, and land phone. Refers to a telephone line which travels through a solid medium (e.g. copper wire) as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves.
- Live Answering
A service where live operators, located in an off-site call centre, answer calls for a number of businesses. They answer calls in the business name, and then take a message that is sent to a designated SMS number and email address. Calls can be answered at certain times of day (e.g. after hours) or under defined conditions (e.g. engaged or not answering).
- Local Exchange
The telephone exchange to which a customer is directly connected, usually the closest exchange to the customer. Many telcos show the location of their exchanges on their web sites.
- Message Bank
A “virtual” answering machine, where callers are given the option to leave a recorded message if your phone is busy or doesn’t answer. You then dial in to a central location to retrieve your recorded messages.
Short for Modulator-Demodulator, a modem is a device that allows your computer to communicate over the Internet. It converts your computer’s digital signals into specific frequencies to travel over telephone or cable lines. At the destination, the receiving modem demodulates the frequencies back into digital data.
- NBN (National Broadband Network)
A fibre network currently being built in Australia that will provide the infrastructure that will allow wholesale and retail service providers to deliver advanced digital services to the nation. The increased speeds and capabilities of the fibre network will allow new products and services to be delivered.
The name under which Telstra markets their ISDN 2/10/20/30 services. These services offer smaller businesses and individual users an economical way to access the benefits of ISDN desktop PC solutions, small phone systems, LAN interconnections, remote access to networks and video conferencing.
- Optical Fibre
- PBX (Private Business Exchange)
A telephone exchange that serves a particular business or office, as opposed to one that a telephone company operates for many businesses or for the general public. A PBX makes connections among the internal telephones of a private organisation (usually a business) and also connects them to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) via trunk lines.
- POP (Point of Presence)
An artificial demarcation point or interface point between communications entities. Usually refers to a local telephone number of an exchange. ISPs may have a number of POPs around the world to enable users to have local access.
Moving your telecommunications services from one carrier to another.
- POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)
Regular old-fashioned analogue loop start phone service. The voice-grade telephone service that remains the basic form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in many parts of the world.
The process of preparing and equipping a network to allow it to provide (new) services to its users.
- PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)
Also known as Packet Switched Network. International telephone network of copper wires, originally designed to carry analogue voice data.
- QoS (Quality of Service)
An indicator of the performance of a transmission system on the Internet and other networks. QoS is measured in transmission rate, error rates, latency, and other characteristics, and can to some extent be guaranteed to a customer in advance.
A device intended to extend ISDN telephone service to site further from the central office than could normally be served.
A device that forwards data packets across computer networks. Routers perform the “traffic direction” functions on the Internet. When a data packet comes in, the router reads its the address information in the packet to determine its ultimate destination. Then, using information in its routing table, it directs the packet to the next network on its journey. Routers also perform other tasks such as translating the data transmission protocol of the packet to the appropriate protocol of the next network, and preventing unauthorized access to a network by the use of a firewall.
The process of selecting paths in a network along which to send network traffic. When referring to Inbound Numbers, routing determines the answer points to which calls are directed based on information such as caller location and time of day.
- SIM (Subscriber Identity Module)
Commonly referred to as a SIM or smart card. A SIM card is the part of a mobile phone that contains information about the subscriber, such as personal phone numbers and service details. Through use of the SIM, calls can be made from any valid mobile phone, as it is the SIM card that contains subscriber details and not the mobile phone.
- SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
SIP is a protocol that enables service providers to offer not just voice services over IP but also enhanced services, such as unified communications and ‘real’ phone numbers.
- SIP Trunking
Uses SIP to deliver phone services to your company’s PBX via the Internet. This allows your business to communicate over IP with anyone in Australia and around the world, while taking advantage of the cost savings provided by IP telephony. And by replacing your traditional telephone lines with SIP-based connections to your IP PBX, all of your communication needs (including voice, video and data) are on the same broadband Internet connection.
A 13, 1300, or 1800 Inbound Number that spells a word or contains a pattern that makes it easy to remember. SmartNumbers are available from the government through the www.smartnumbers.com.au web site.
- SMS (Short Messaging Service)
SMS is a service for sending messages of up to 160 characters to mobile phones. SMS messages can also be sent to digital phones from a Web site equipped with PC Link or from one digital phone to another.
The customer of a telecommunications company.
A network device that selects a path or circuit for sending a unit of data to its next destination. In general, a switch is a simpler and faster mechanism than a router, which requires knowledge about the network and how to determine the route.
The underlying technology behind the Internet and communications between computers in a network. The first part, TCP, is the transport part, which matches the size of the messages on either end and guarantees that the correct message has been received. The IP part is the user’s computer address on a network. Every computer in a TCP/IP network has its own IP address that is either dynamically assigned at startup or permanently assigned. All TCP/IP messages contain the address of the destination network as well as the address of the destination station. This enables TCP/IP messages to be transmitted to multiple networks (subnets) within an organisation or worldwide.
- Telco (Telephone Company)
Your local telephone service provider.
- TIO (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)
A free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia with unresolved complaints about their telephone or Internet services. (www.tio.com.au)
- Toll Free Services
Telecommunications services where the caller pays nothing and recipient of the call pays for the remainder of the cost of the service. A 1800 number is an example of a toll free service.
A communications path between two switching systems, for example between the Telco switch and your PBX.
- UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
A power supply you can use to continue to power your computers and phone system for a short time when the primary power source is lost. It also helps to provide protection from power surges.
- Value Added Services
An additional service delivered or accessed through the telecommunications system, which has involved the additional of significant value to the basic switching and transmission functions.
- Virtual Office Services
Virtual services include things like Live Answering (virtual receptionist), Inbound Numbers and Fax2Email. These services provide a business with all of the benefits and professional appearance of a large company, for a price that a start-up can afford.
- Virtual Receptionist
See Live Answering.
A “virtual” service that allows you to receive voicemail messages without the need for an answering machine. Messages are received at a central server, and are then converted (usually to a WAV file) before being forwarded to your designated email address.
- VoIP (Voice over IP)
Also called IP telephone, Internet telephone, and broadband telephony. VoIP is the two-way transmission of audio over an IP network. The technology uses the Internet’s packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax and other forms of information.
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