Glossary of Terms

When the world of Telephony and the internet meet it’s a perfect storm for the creation of enless jargon and acronyms. We’ve listed a few key ones below for you to reference.

VOIP Phone – This is another term applied to VoIP phones. This phone can convert voice into a digital signal called ‘packets’ which can then send the audio over an Internet connection. It can also convert digital packets of back into voice audio.

POTS – Plain Old Telephone System. This is the term applied to traditional or older phone systems that rely on analog (phone line) transmission. Many smaller businesses and homes still use this system.

ATA – Analog Telephone Adaptor. This is a small adaptor, usually about the size of a thumb drive, that you plug into a normal phone to allow it to connect to a VoIP network and send calls over the Internet.

PBX – Private Branch Exchange. Cloudphone is a Cloud PBX. Think of it as the system that controls everything related to your phones.

Bandwidth – Is the amount or volume of data that can be transmitted over an Internet or communication line in a given amount of time. It is measured in bits per second (bps) e.g., 100 mbps for Internet speed, and Hertz (Hz) for phone/analog systems. The higher the number, the faster communication will be.

DDI – Direct Dial In. Is a function of VoIP and some POTS, whereby a caller can directly call a phone on a desk instead of having to go through the PBX and answering system.

CTI – Computer Telephone Integration. This system allows your phones to interact with computers. An example is the ability to make a call directly from your CRM

QoS – Quality of Service. This is the ability of a VoIP network to deliver traffic with a minimal amount of downtime and the highest quality.

Find-me/Follow-me or Mobile Tethering– This service can find you wherever you are, and forward calls to that location or the phone closest to you, such as a mobile or home phone.

IVR – Interactive Voice Response. A verbal choice provided by a recording over the phone. Audio choice prompts for caller input. Audio menus can instruct you to speak commands or hit touch-tones as commands.

Softphone client. The software installed in the user’s computer to make calls over the Internet.

Codec. Codec is a term that arises from the Compressor-Decompressor or enCOder/DECoder process. It is used for software or hardware devices that can convert or transform a data stream. For instance, at the transmitting end codecs can encode a data stream or data signal for easy transmission, storage or encryption. At the receiving end, they can decode the signal in the appropriate form for viewing. They are most suitable for videoconferencing and streaming media solutions.

Internet congestion. Internet congestion occurs when a large volume of data is being routed on low bandwidth lines or across networks that have high latency and cannot handle large volumes. The result is slowing down of packet movement, packet loss and drop in service quality.

IP. This is the acronym for Internet Protocol, defines the way data packets, also called datagrams, should be moved between the destination and the source. More technically, it can be defined as the network layer protocol in the TCP/IP communications protocol suite.


IP address. An IP address, also known as Internet Protocol address, is the machine number used to identify all devices that are connected to the net. Each device has its own unique number which it uses to communicate. This number is fixed in the case of those computing devices that have a fixed IP address. The rest are allotted a dynamic IP address, which is valid for the period they are connected to the net.

ISP. Internet Service Provider. A business that provides subscriber-based access to the Internet. Subscribers can be individuals or businesses.

Jitter. It is a term used to indicate a momentary fluctuation in the transmission signal. This happens in computing when a data packet arrives either ahead or behind a standard clock cycle. In telecommunication, it may result from an abrupt variation in signal characteristics, such as the interval between successive pulses.

Kbps. Kbps is the acronym for kilobits per second and is used to indicate the data transfer speed. If the modem speed, for instance, is 1 Kbps then it means that the modem can route data at the speed of one thousand bits per second. Lag Lag is the term used to indicate the extra time taken by a packet of data to travel from the source computer to the destination computer and back again. The lag may be caused by poor networking or by inefficient or excessive processing.

Latency. Latency is the time that elapses between the initiation of a request for data and the start of the actual data transfer. This delay may be in nanoseconds but it is still used to judge the efficiency of networks.

Mean opinion score (MOS) A measurement of the subjective quality of human speech, represented as a rating index. MOS is derived by taking the average of numerical scores given by juries to rate quality and using it as a quantitative indicator of system performance.

Packet. A logically grouped unit of data. Packets contain a payload (the information to be transmitted), originator, destination and synchronizing information. The idea with packets is to transmit them over a network so each individual packet can be sent along the most optimal route to its. Packets are assembled on one end of the communication and re-assembled on the receiving end based on the header addressing information at the front of each packet. Routers in the network will store and forward packets based on network delays, errors and re-transmittal requests from the receiving end.

Packet loss. Packet loss is the term used to indicate the loss of data packets during transmission over a computer network. This may happen on account of high network latency or on account of overloading of switches or routers that are unable to process or route all the incoming data.

PSTN Public Switched Telephone Network. The combination of local, long-distance, and international carriers that make up the worldwide telephone network.

Router. A router is a network device that that handles message transfer between computers that form part of the Internet. The messages, which are in the form of data packets, are forwarded to their respective IP destinations by the router. A router can also be called the junction box that routes data packets between computer networks.