Telephony Jargon Buster

By | January 22, 2014

We’re all guilty of dropping  acronyms with clients, even more so in internal meetings. The telecoms industry is positively rife with three and four letter labels, so much so, it can be a minefield for those on the outside, looking in. If you struggle to separate your ‘SIP’s from your ‘ADSL’s, here’s a handy little guide to help make sense of it all.

Access Server
An Access Server or Network Access Server connects devices to a Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN). Internet Service Providers are able to provide customers with Internet connectivity using the Access Server. The server provides user authentication and permits the flow between the user host and hosts.

Active Directory (AD)
The Active Directory provides information on objects including services, resources and users. The AD allows the control of security settings and access to the objects.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) uses existing copper telephone lines to send and receive data at speeds that far exceed conventional dial-up modems. The technology is used to provide high-speed Internet access along the same line used for voice or telephony services. ADSL maximum data transfer rates differ for uploading and downloading data.

The backbone of a network refers to infrastructure that interconnects multiple networks and provides a route for the high-speed exchange of data between different networks. The backbone can interconnect different networks of dispersed devices in offices for example. Local Area Networks can be interconnected over a backbone to provide a Wide Area Network.

Bandwidth refers to the size of a data connection’s capacity. Bandwidth is usually measured in kilobits per second (Kbps), Megabits per second (Mbps) or Gigabits per second (Gbps). Circuit (access), a physical circuit is a wire or a part of a wire which provides a communications route between two or more points on a network. The circuit, sometimes described as a local loop connects a customer premise to a switch, router, multiplexer, or other device at the edge of a carrier or service provider network.

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing refers to a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet rather than a local server or computer which are used to process, manage and store data. Cloud Computing is broken down into three common service levels: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. See definitions.

Colocation is where an organisation houses its servers in a server room in a third party data centre and uses a service provider for the provision of network connections, such as Internet leased lines to several servers which are housed together in a server room.

IP convergence is the consolidation of networks (e.g. voice, data, video) into a single platform lowering the cost of networks and communications.

Direct Dial Inbound (DDI)
DDI allows users to rent individual phone numbers without the need to rent individual lines. A single phone line is allocated to a range of numbers saving the expense of having a separate phone line for each number.

Ethernet Demarcation Device (EDD)
An Ethernet Demarcation Device enables Ethernet services to enterprises and business subscribers. Owned by service providers and located at the customer premises, it provides a clear demarcation point between customer and service provider networks. As well as delivering managed services to customers with Quality of Service (QoS) control for each service, these devices have all the necessary carrier-class management and Operations, Administrations and Management functions essential for service providers to monitor network health and performance up to the demarcation point.

Ethernet describes the physical network that carries data traffic. The most commonly used technology for implementing Local Area Networks (LANs) Ethernet, is used to define how data is transmitted between computer devices. Computers, printers and devices are connected to each other through the hub/switch/bridge using cables in a star-like or a bus-like configuration. Ethernet initially supported a theoretical data rate of 10 megabits per second but today can extend to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).

Ethernet VPN
Ethernet VPN is a group of technologies used to provide Virtual Private Network services over the Internet between the Ethernet LANs. One of the Ethernet VPN technologies is based on Virtual Private LAN Services (VLPS) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), which provides more benefits than other alternative Layer 2 or 3 VPN technologies.

Fibre Optics
Fibre Optics is a method for the transmission of data using optic fibre cable and light. Light is transmitted over high purity, hair-thin fibres of glass. The bandwidth capacity of fibre optic cable is much greater than that of conventional cable or copper wire.

A firewall is a protective security screen (hardware or software) that aims to protect network devices from hostile intrusion, viruses or malicious activity over the network. A corporate network’s traffic flows through the firewall and access to a corporate or private network is granted or denied.

Gigabits per Second (Gbps)
Gbps is a measure of the speed of data transfer in networking.

Gigabit Ethernet
Gigabit Ethernet is a transmission technology based on the Ethernet protocol with speed tenfold over the fast Ethernet supporting a theoretical maximum data rate of 1000 Mbps or 1 Gbps. Ethernet operates at Layers 1 and 2 of the 7-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) networking model, delivering its data packets to any device connected to the network cable.

Hosted Telephony
Hosted Telephony is an Internet Protocol (IP) based phone system which is hosted in a service provider’s data centre removing the need for phone system hardware. Customer profiles are controlled via web-based browsers and can be edited by the end-user from an Internet connection.

Hunt Group
Multiple phones allocated to a single extension number which enable a call to be answered by any one person within a group. Calls will generally ‘hunt’ from one phone to another until answered.

IP Address
Internet Protocol Address (or IP Address) is a unique address in number format which every computer device has. The IP address enables computer devices to communicate with each other over an IP network or the Internet. In order for data to be sent from one computer to another over the Internet, a data packet must be transferred across the network containing the IP addresses of both devices. The unique IP address allows data to reach the right destination.

IPv4 and IPv6
Internet Protocol Version 4(IPv4), is the most commonly used numbering system used to create IP addresses. IPv4 employs 32-bits of recombined digits and has a maximum of 4.3 billion possible addresses. IPv6 is a newer system for the creation of IP addresses. It uses 128 bits instead of 32 bits for its addresses, creating trillions of new IPv6 addresses, enough to support the demand for IP addresses for some expected time to come.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) a network technology that provides digital transfer of simultaneous voice and data traffic and works over ordinary telephone lines. Local Area Network (LAN) A LAN is a data network connecting devices including computers, printers and servers in one location for fast and secure internal communication.

Load Balanced
Balancing a workload amongst multiple computer devices, for example, virtual servers or servers.

Leased Line
A leased line is a service contract between a provider and a customer, whereby the provider agrees to deliver a symmetric telecommunications line connecting two or more locations in exchange for a monthly rent (hence the term lease). It is sometimes known as a “Private Circuit” or “Data Line” in the UK. Unlike traditional lines it does not have a telephone number, each side of the line being permanently connected to the other. Leased lines can be used for telephone, data or Internet services.

Megabit per second (Mbps) is a measure of the speed of data transfer in networking.

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a networking technology which is used to route data packets over an IP network. MPLS ensures that all packets in a particular flow take the same route over a backbone. When used for a corporate VPN/WAN, the technology eliminates the need to buy and manage multiple firewalls as traffic is routed within a secure virtual private network.

Network to Network Interface (NNI)
Network to Network Interface (NNI) is both a physical and logical point of demarcation defining how two networks interconnect and exchange information. The NNI serves the technical boundary where protocol issues are resolved and as the point of division between the responsibilities of individual service providers.

Private Branch Exchange (PABX or PBX)
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is a switch station for telephone systems. Serving as the exchange point for the routing of incoming and outgoing calls, PBX consists of several branches of telephone systems and switches.

Point of Presence (PoP)
A Point of Presence (PoP) is the point at which a telecoms carrier establishes a physical presence in a geographic area, and at which the local exchange carriers (LECs) terminate access services. The PoP can consist of the high-speed telecommunications equipment and technologies that enable users to connect to the Internet via their ISP. The PoP can include call aggregators, modem banks, routers, and high-speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switches.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the standard telephone service provided over basic analogue phone lines.

Quality of Service (QoS)
QoS is the ability to provide different priority to different applications, users, or data flows, or to guarantee a certain level of performance to a data flow. QoS involves prioritization of network traffic. QoS can be targeted at a network interface, toward a given server or router’s performance, or in terms of specific applications. A network monitoring system must typically be deployed as part of QoS, to insure that networks are performing at the desired level.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) enables calls to be routed via the internet rather than a telephone network.

Virtualisation refers to technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them. With virtualisation, an entire server (including processor and storage) runs as a software image, meaning multiple virtual machines can be run on one physical machine.

Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
VPN provides secure connections between private networks linked through private networks or public networks such as the Internet. It allows remote computers to act as though they were on the same secure, local network- ideal for linking multiple sites, home-based or remote workers. The main benefit of a VPN is the lower cost needed to support this technology compared to alternatives like traditional leased lines or remote access servers.

Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS)
VPLS is a class of VPN that supports the connection of multiple sites in a single bridged domain over a managed IP/Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network. The goal is to overcome the limitations of traditional protocols, any-to-any, full-mesh service across a Wide Area Network. All services in a VPLS appear to be on the same LAN, regardless of location. This removes complexity from enterprise networks, and lets carriers scale the networks.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
A WAN is a network covering a broad area and connecting multiple smaller networks across local, regional, or national boundaries. Multi-site organisations can use them to link LANs together (see LAN).

Thanks to our friends at Exponential-e for this little lot!

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