Glossary of Terms

Need some clarification on some common technology terms and abbreviations? Take a look at our Glossary of Terms below:

Analog Line
This is what you normally have at home: A single telephone line used mainly for voice. 

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
This is the technology that enables businesses to receive broadband using extensive telephone networks. Essentially ADSL makes the line faster. 

An automated voicemail feature that transfers callers to extensions or departments by selecting options via dialling digits. For example, ‘press 1 for Customer Service, 2 for Returns’ and so on. 

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
An Automatic Call Distributor/ Distribution System is a device/system that intelligently routes incoming calls to the appropriate person based on certain factors. This is particularly suited to large companies with high volumes of inbound calls where a customer can speak to a number of people about a specific query.

 A high-speed network that connects several powerful computers. In the U.S., the backbone of the Internet is often the NSFNet, a government funded link 
between a handful of supercomputer sites across the country.

In a hierarchical telecommunications network the backhaul portion of the network comprises the intermediate links between the core network, or backbone, of the network and the small sub-networks at the “edge” of the entire hierarchical network. 

Bandwidth is defined as the amount of data which can be transferred over a connection, and is measured in bit/bytes per second. 

BRI- Basic Rate Interface
Also often referred to as ISDN2. BRI is a service level that provides a channel for data or speech and a channel for signaling information. A BRI circuit can carry two independent calls at the same time. It is suitable for smaller businesses, larger enterprises might use a PRI (Primary Rate Interface), which carries more.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
BYOD or “Bring your own Device” refers to the growing trend of employees bringing their own devices into the office to use for work purposes. It offers flexibility and remote working, therefore increasing productivity.

Byte, Kilobyte (KB) & Megabyte (MB)
How data is measured. One Kilobyte (1KB) equals 1024 bytes. One Megabyte (1MB) equals 1024 Kilobytes (KB).

Call Barring
Stops calls to certain destinations or premium rate numbers. Call barring can be applied to a whole telephone system or on a user level, affecting specific lines only.

Call Forwarding
Also often referred to as call diversion. Extension users can redirect calls to a different destination by dialing a code. The call could be forwarded to another extension, the operator, or an external number. There are different types of call forwarding, e.g. Diversion of All calls, Diversion if Busy, Diversion if no reply, etc.

Call Logging
Information collected about in or outgoing calls made on a telephone system. This data is often used for reporting and management.

Call Management
Involves a specialist software that analyses telephone system call records. This is often used to identify misuse, allocate calling costs to departments and verify if resources are adequately allocated.

A telephone service provider, for example, BT, Cable and Wireless, NTL etc. Carriers typically own their own infrastructure or Network.

Carrier-Neutral Data Center
A carrier-neutral data center facilitates interconnection between numerous telecoms carriers and colocation providers, thus enabling customers to switch providers without physically moving to a new site. Also known as a network-neutral data center.

 CCU – Central Control Unit
Where the equipment that controls the telephone system is housed, usually a box or a cabinet.

 CDR – Call Detail Record
Documents call details, CLI (Caller Line Identity), Date, Time, Number Dialed, Destination, Duration and cost. A CDR is often used for bill generation and analysis.

CLI – Calling Line Identity
Commonly known as a Telephone number. Several CLIs can be associated to one line, and several lines can be associated to one number.

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of software, storage, and other computing services via the Internet (the cloud), rather than being deployed on local hardware. Cloud services are typically charged on a monthly usage basis.

Cloud Hosting
In a cloud-hosted solution, customers rent virtual server space instead of physical servers. The virtual partitions draw resources from an array of underlying physical servers installed in a data center. The physical server itself may be shared with other applications or customers. This is generally considered less secure than a colocation or a VPS.

Cloud Server
A cloud server is a remote virtual server hosted by a cloud computing service. Cloud servers offer similar functionality to dedicated physical servers, but can be more reliable, scalable, flexible and cost-effective.

Cloud Service Provider
A cloud service provider is an organization that offers cloud-computing services such as IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. These services are typically offered to customers under an on-demand, pay-as-you-go model. 

Colocation Center
A colocation center (colo) is a data center where technology infrastructure connects to a range of telecoms and network service providers. Businesses rent floor space for their servers, storage devices and other IT hardware. Also known as a carrier hotel. 

When two telephone users or more join a single call. More sophisticated conference calls for larger groups of people can involve specialist software and dial-in codes.

Contact Center
A more sophisticated version of a call centre, using unified communications (i.e. telephony, email, messaging) in conjunction with CRM applications. 

Allows for both voice and data to run over the same connection.  

CRM – Customer Relationship Management
A database that contains customer records and information relating to their accounts, e.g. contact details, current and past orders, payments made etc. Examples are: Salesforce, Oracle. 

A cross-connect is a hardware connection between separate racks/cabinets/infrastructure provided by a data center. For example, a link between a network and an Internet service provider.​

Dark Fiber
Dark fiber is unused optical fiber. Companies that lay cables can gain economies of scale by installing more than is immediately needed, with the excess fiber remaining dark (unlit) until purchased by future customers.

Data Center
A data center is a building that hosts servers, storage devices, network equipment and other IT infrastructure. These facilities typically include backup power supplies, redundant communications links, cooling systems, fire suppression and security protection.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
DSL stands for “Digital Subscriber Line” and is the technology which enables the transfer of data over a phone line without interference. 

DDI – Direct Dial Inward
Also often referred to as an extension. This number assigned to a specific handset and will be associated to the main number (CLI), i.e. a company’s general contact number.

Dedicated Server
A dedicated server is a form of Internet hosting where the customer leases an entire server not shared with other customers. This gives the organization complete control over the server’s operating system and hardware. Also known as a dedicated hosting service.

Disaster Recovery (DR)
Disaster Recovery is a strategy that mitigates the impact of negative events (such as fire, flood or power failure) by enabling an organization to quickly resume operations following the event. Examples include switching mission-critical functions to a backup location.

Ethernet is a standard for using various transmission media, such as coaxial cables, unshielded twisted pairs, and optical fibers.

Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM)
Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) is a cost-effective alternative to a leased line; it uses fixed-band connectivity to provide a high-speed service capable of exchanging large volumes of data. 

The Exchange relates to a telephone Exchange located in a central office that services a certain geographical area and denotes the service area that your connection is associated with. It is essential that the exchange has the capability to provide you with your required data line. i.e. an EFM or leased line.

Fiber / Fiber Optic Cable 
Transmits light signals along glass strands, permitting 10-100 times faster transmission than traditional copper wire.  What this means to the consumer, is faster, more efficient cell phones and Internet connections.  FTTH (fiber to the home), FTTP (fiber to the premises) -these terms simply mean – how close the fiber comes to a building, house…end user.  The closer it comes, the faster the connection. 

Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC)
“Fiber to the Cabinet” or “FTTC” offers high bandwidth at an affordable price. From an end-user perspective, FTTC works in much the same way as ADSL-based broadband, except that it is much faster. 

Fixed Line
The term fixed line usually refers to a solution or product that uses the public telephone network such as a telephone line. 

Fiber to the Premised (FTTP)
A broadband solution that delivers fibre-optic communication all the way to the premises of the subscriber, thus being even faster than FTTC.

A firewall is a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting authorized communications. It is a device or set of devices which is configured to permit or deny computer based application upon a set of rules and other criteria. 

Follow the Sun
This is a reference to a type of workflow in which tasks are communicated daily between work sites located globally, that are many time zones apart. The idea is to minimize project delivery timelines and improve response times.

Generic Ethernet Access (GEA)
Using existing Broadband and Ethernet networks, GEA is delivered over the copper wires connecting your building with the cabinet in the street. The connection to the exchange is then carried by fibre. The last part of the connection is carried by Ethernet.

High Definition Video Conferencing
High Definition Video Conferencing enables real-time, face to face conferencing either through an existing compatible telephone system infrastructure or via an external HD Video Conferencing system. High Definition offers users a much better experience, with enhanced sound and visuals, and is perfect for encouraging collaboration across geographical areas and reducing the costs traditionally associated with organizing meetings and conferences. 

Hosted Telephony
A cloud service solution where your phone system is hosted elsewhere in a data center in the cloud.
A hosted telephone system will be delivered through user licenses paid by subscription. The handsets will be kept in the customer premises, but the equipment running the system will be hosted in the data center. 

Hunt Groups
A system of finding a free extension to answer a call. There are different types available, First Free or Terminal Hunting will search for the first free extension in the group, so one person gets most of the calls. Circular or UCD (Uniform Call Distribution) Hunting will share calls equally amongst the group.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is a cloud-computing model that delivers virtualized computing resources over the Internet, with the hardware (servers, storage, network devices etc.) being provided and managed by an external service provider.

Internet Protocol (IP)
The process of routing information from one network to another. 

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
ISP stands for “Internet Service Provider” and is defined as the company that supplies your connection.

Internet Exchange (IX)
An Internet exchange is a physical facility through which Internet service providers transfer traffic between their networks using a direct connection, rather than through a third party network. The advantages are reduced cost, lower latency and more efficient bandwidth utilization.

Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT refers to the global network of smart devices, vehicles, buildings and other objects embedded with intelligent software and sensors that enable these items to communicate and collect data.

Internet Protocol Transit (IP Transit)
Internet Protocol Transit is a service that enables traffic to traverse an ISP’s network and connect to the wider Internet. 

IP Address
A unique number that identifies the equipment sending or receiving data. 

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network
The simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the public telephone network. There are two types of ISDN lines:

ISDN2 – Offering 2 voice channels, if more are required, several ISDN2 bearers can be presented over one number

ISDN30 – Ultimately a 2mb circuit divided into 30 channels. At least 8 channels must be open, you can then increase the capacity 2 channels at a time without installing any more bearers until you reach 30.
  SIP trunking is a viable alternative to this service. 

ITSP – Internet Telephone Service Provider
Service Providers offering digital telecommunications services based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

LAN – Local Area Network
Allows PCs to communicate with each other and common devices, such as printers or servers also connected to the network. 

Latency Network
latency is the delay that occurs in transmitting data over a network. High latency can adversely impact the function of many applications.

Leased Line
A Leased line is the most reliable type of Internet connection and is often referred to as a premium line. It is usually delivered via fibre-optic technology. Using a leased line guarantees that your business will be the only one using that line (also known as one-to-one contention), thus providing a guaranteed high level of service. High-speed connections of up to 1Gbps are available via lease lines.

A popular free and open-source computer operating system (OS).

Linux Server
A variant of the Linux open-source operating system,  designed to deal with the more demanding requirements of business applications, e.g. network and system administration, database management and web services.

Managed Hosting
Managed hosting is a provisioning model whereby the hardware is owned by a service provider and leased to a single client, who also pays for ongoing management and maintenance of the infrastructure.

Managed Services Provider (MSP)
Delivers network, application, system and e-management services across a network to multiple enterprises, using a “pay as you go” pricing model. MSPs can also include offerings from other providers — including application service providers (ASPs), Web hosting companies and network service providers (NSPs) — that supplement their traditional offerings with management services.

Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS)
Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a means of directing data which involves assigning packets of data distinct labels. How data is distributed is then dependent on these labels.

A network is a group of computer systems linked together. Types of networks include Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Storage Area Network (SAN) and Metro Area Network (MAN). Networks may be further categorized based on topology, protocol and architecture.

Network Switch
Allows multiple devices to access the same network. 

NGN – Non Geographic Number
Usually 0300, 0500, 0800, 0808, 0844, 0845, 0870, and 0871 numbers that are not geographically bound. This also includes premium rate numbers that are priced a lot higher. These numbers are inbound only and cloud-based.

Network Operations Center (NOC)
A network operations center (or NOC, pronounced “knock”) is one or more locations from which control is exercised over a computer, television broadcast or telecommunications network. 

This acronym stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Many types of technicians need to be familiar with products from various manufacturers.

Outside Plant
Refers to all of the physical cabling and supporting infrastructure (such as conduit, cabinets, tower or poles), and any associated hardware (such as repeaters) located between a demarcation point in a switching facility to another switching facility or to a customer premises. 

PAC or PAC Code – Porting Authorization Code
A code that allows you to change mobile phone network providers and transfer a phone number from one phone to another. 

PBX – Private Branch Exchange / Private Automated Branch Exchange
A telephone switching system that connects telephone extensions with each other, as well as to the outside telephone network.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
A PBX is a telephony system within an organization that switches internal calls between users and allows users to make and receive external calls over shared phone lines.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)
A proprietary security standard for the handling of major branded credit cards, administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, and designed to reduce fraud and improve the control of personal card data.

Physical Server
A physical server is a hardware-based computing device that provides data to other computers. The term is used to differentiate from software-based virtual servers.

Point of Presence (PoP)
A PoP is an interface or demarcation point between communicating entities such as telecoms carriers or Internet service providers. In a colocation data center, the PoPs will often be situated in a Meet-Me Room.

Point- to- Point (P2P)
This is a type of communications connection which is a dedicated data link between two designated sites, systems or processes. 

Port or Number Porting
Porting means changing Network providers without changing your number.  

POE – Power over Ethernet Switch
A device that passes electrical power along with data on Ethernet cabling.

Power Redundancy
Power redundancy involves the duplication of critical power systems so that power will always remain available in the event of failure of one component. High availability power supplies are often configured as N+1, N+2 and 2N.

At a customer’s location/premises.  This could be anything from an office to a factory to a home. 

Private Cloud
A private cloud resides on an organization’s intranet or hosted data center where all hardware, management, maintenance, security and updates are the responsibility of the organization.

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network
Also known as the traditional telephone network.

Public Cloud
A public cloud resides in a service provider’s data center and the provider is responsible for all management and maintenance. This reduces costs and improves scalability, however security may be less robust than a private cloud solution.

QoS – Quality of Service
The level of service defined by an agreement between a network provider and user that guarantees a certain level of bandwidth and data speed.

A metal framed chassis that holds, secures and organizes a vertical stack of network and server hardware, including routers, switches, access points, storage devices and modems. Also known as a cabinet.

Rack Unit
A standard unit of measure used to describe the height of a server mounted on a 19-inch or 23-inch rack. The height of one rack unit is 44.45mm. The common written form is expressed with a “U” eg. 1U = 1 rack unit.

Remote Hands
Remote hands is a service provided by colocation data centers that enables customers to outsource basic IT maintenance tasks to technicians employed by the data center, thereby allowing customers to focus on their own core business. Remote hands’ technicians assist with simple tasks like running cables, checking ports, observing indicators and rebooting servers. 

Routing / Router
The process of selecting paths in a network along which to send network traffic. Routers are the equipment used to make this happen.

SDSL – Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line
Like ADSL, but allowing the same upload and download speed. It enables more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines at rates of up to 3Mbps

Service Provider
Service providers offer a range of services to other businesses. Services may include networking, communications, legal advice, consulting, data storage, management, maintenance and more. Also refer to Cloud Service Provider. 

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
A form of VoIP used for controlling communications that are of a multimedia nature, such as voice or video calling via an IP network. Video Conferencing, File Transfer and Messaging can all be facilitated via SIP. SIP is also a good alternative to ISDN. 

SLA – Service Level Agreement
Guarantees a measurable level of service between receiver and provider.

Smart Hands
Smart hands is similar to a remote hands service but involves more complex tasks such as installing equipment, configuring firewalls, circuit testing and troubleshooting. While remote hands’ services are often offered at no additional cost, smart hands services are normally billed by the hour.

Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is a cloud-based software distribution model that enables customers to access applications hosted over the Internet (typically via a web browser) and licensed on a subscription basis. 

Switch – Switching
A device that channels incoming data from any of multiple input ports to the specific output port that will take the data toward its intended destination.

TCP / IP – Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol
The way data is transferred only, in very simple terms, how it is packaged, sent and unpacked again on the other end. 

A telephone exchange line that receives and makes calls.

Unified Messaging
A platform for the management of voice, fax and email from a single user interface. 

Unified Communications (UC)
Unified Communications (UC) is a business communications strategy that looks to combine various different strands of communication types, such as telephony, presence technology, instant messaging (IM, for example Facebook Messenger), email, voice mail, video conferencing and more into a single, integrated interface. Any UC strategy will be specifically designed with a company’s unique needs in mind, including the working habits and requirements of its employees. 

Unified Presence
This is the idea that a User’s availability can be seen at any time using Presence Technology, an application which can identify a device wherever it is whenever the user connects to the main network.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
A UPS is a device that provides emergency power when the primary power source fails, allowing equipment to continue to operate for a limited time. It can also provide protection from power surges.

Uptime is a measure of the time that a piece of equipment is active and operational. It is normally expressed as a percentage – for example, five nines reliability refers to a device that is operational 99.999% of the time.

Virtualization refers to the creation of a logical or virtual version of a computing resource, such as a server, network, operating system or storage device. Virtualization makes more efficient use of IT hardware, allowing for the provision of more flexible, scalable and lower cost services. Virtual Private Server (VPS) A VPS is a virtual machine that resides on a physical machine within a data center. The VPS runs its own virtual operating system and is offered as a service to customers who may install almost any software that is compatible with the OS.

Usually acts as a “centralized answering machine” for users of a telephone system. Callers will listen to a personalized message and have the option to leave a message for the person they tried to reach. Many voicemail systems will also offer a routing system that directs callers to the relevant departments and give information out to callers. 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
“VoIP” or “Voice over Internet Protocol” is the digital alternative to using conventional landlines for communication and collaboration. The low cost of VoIP is its biggest draw for many businesses. 

VPN – Virtual Private Network
Offers inter-site communications that can be implemented over fixed circuit connections but also via a dial-up connection, which can offer great cost benefits to the user.

WAN – Wide Area Network
Enables all users in different sites to access the same information as if they were all connected on one local area network (LAN).