Telecom Jargon Buster FAQ

Jargon Buster

Last updated on July 28th, 2023 at 03:23 pm

Table of Contents

What is 2G?

2G means second generation mobile technology – The 2G standard introduced significant features from its predecessor, including digital encryption for calls as well as data services for mobile. This evolution allowed SMS text messaging to become popular along with their counterpart, MMS text messaging, which also allows for pictures and other media to be sent via the mobile carrier’s network.

2G has now been superseded by newer technologies such as 2.5G, 2.75G, 3G, and 4G; however, 2G networks are still used in many parts of the world.

What is 3G?

3G is short for third generation mobile technology. The 3G standard allows for higher rates of data to be sent via the GSM mobile network, finding itself useful with the emergence of smartphones & tablets. 3G allows mobile users to connect to the internet via the GSM network however it has been superseded by 4G, although 3G is still commonly in use.

What is 4G?

4G stands for fourth generation mobile technology, superseding 3G and allowing for even higher download/upload speeds for data, further expanding on the advantages of 3G. 4G allows more reliable bandwidth for applications such as video and streaming video on mobile devices.

What is 5G?

5G Stands for fifth generation mobile technology, superseding 4G and allowing for at present, the fastest download speeds via mobile network available up to a gigabit, to deliver reliable fast connections that enable high definition video calls, streaming and other high bandwidth applications.

What is ACD? (Automatic Call Distributor)

Automatic call distributors are part of an internal telephone system that directs external callers to the correct recipient, usually within larger organisations where call filtering is critical. ACD’s are commonly recognised by their automated messages to the recipient caller “Press 1 for sales, 2 for accounts…” etc.

What is ADSL? (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)

ADSL was the first iteration of broadband technology, allowing for high-speed data to be transmitted using existing copper telephone cables. Technically, existing copper cables only utilise a small proportion of their available bandwidth (in terms of the frequencies audible to the human ear) to deliver traditional voice calls, so the extra bandwidth (frequencies inaudible to the human ear) are used to deliver high-speed data to the customer’s premises. ADSL suffers from bandwidth loss at distance due to power loss over copper cable length and the way the system is arranged, the download speeds are also faster than upload speeds.

For faster connections than ADSL, see FTTC and FTTP.

What are Analogue Lines?

Traditional telephone lines, commonly used in homes throughout the UK and are normally required in order to have broadband. Telephone lines using copper cables and delivering the end voice signal using an analogue “wave” signal, rather than a signal converted to a digital format. This is commonly referred to as PSTN in the telecoms industry.

What Does Answer 1571 Mean?

Answer 1571 is a hosted answering machine service provided by your phone company. Messages are stored remotely on your phone company’s servers and are accessed by dialling “1571” from your telephone’s keypad.

What is APT? (Analogue Proprietary Telephone)

Telephones designed to be used on PBX systems that do not use or need the additional features that a higher specification, or more expensive system, will provide. APT’s are analogue telephones designed to work with certain telephone PBX brands, however, some models will work on standard home analogue lines as well.

What is Bandwidth?

The amount of data available at any given time via a method of delivery. To use a simple analogy, a thicker water pipe can deliver more water (bandwidth) than a narrower pipe at any given time. Lots of things can increase or decrease bandwidth between devices so when measuring the amount of bandwidth available between two devices it’s important to remember that there could be various factors affecting available bandwidth.

What Does BRI Mean? (Basic Rate Interface)

Basic Rate interface is the lesser of two types of ISDN services available and consists of two bearer channels and one data channel, sometimes referred to as 2B+D

What is Broadband?

Broadband is an umbrella term for any high speed internet access: ADSL, Fibre Optic, T1 etc.

What Does Call Forwarding do?

A feature where an incoming call is redirected (forwarded) on to a completely separate number.

What Does Call Hold Mean?

The ability to effectively pause a conversation with a caller without terminating the call, usually in order to further manage the call in a number of different ways. The user can make a further call on a separate line, transfer the caller to a separate internal extension, or simply place the caller on hold only to pick up the call again at any time, so long as the caller hasn’t hung up.

What Does Ceased Number Intercept Mean? (CNI)

After a telephone number has been declared as inactive there are services from some providers that will allow a forwarding message to be left on the ceased number, for example: “The number you have called has now changed. Please call xxx xxxx. Thank you.” This is Ceased Number Intercept (CNI).

What Does CDR Mean? (Call Data Record)

CDR is when data from each call is recorded for various purposes such as itemised billing. Call Data Records details such as host calling number, recipient number, call duration, ID number of the local exchange, call success or fail, type of call (I.e Voice or SMS), the route of the call through the exchange or any faults found.

What is CLI? (Calling Line Identification or Caller ID)

Allows the recipient of a telephone call to identify the number of the incoming caller.
In the UK, an outgoing caller can withhold their number to the recipient by dialling 141 before dialling their intended recipient’s telephone number. Also, some large companies & public services withhold their outgoing numbers for varying reasons.

What is CSTA? (Computer Supported Telephone Applications)

Computer supported telecommunications applications (CSTA) is an abstraction layer for telecommunications applications. It is independent of underlying protocols. It has a telephone device model that enables CTI applications to work with a wide range of telephone devices. Originally developed in 1992, it has continued to be developed and refined over the years. It is often the model that most CTI applications are built on and claim compliance with. It became an OSI standard in July 2000. It is currently being maintained by ECMA International. The core of CSTA is a normalized Call Control model. Additional to the core there are Call Associated features and Physical Device features amongst others. An implementation of the standard need not provide all features, and so Profiles are provided. For example, the Basic Telephony profile provides such features as Make Call, Answer and Clear Connection.
Source: Wikipedia

What is CTI? (Computer Telephony Integration)

Any process which allows a computer to be connected to a telephone system, allowing the user to dial using their PC’s phonebook, answer calls by clicking icons on their screen and even gather & manage voicemail messages directly from their PC.

What Does DDI Mean? (Direct Dialling In)

DDI is a feature where individuals within an organisation can have their own dedicated number which callers can dial to get straight through to that person, bypassing any switchboard or automated answer facility machine altogether.

What Does DECT Mean? (Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology)

DECT stands for Digital European Cordless Technology – the agreed standard across Europe that allows digital cordless phones to work over the 2.4GhZ radiofrequency. The Digital part refers to the encryption of the radio signal that secures data so that others cannot snoop in on calls, as was the case with original cordless phones which used an analogue method of transmission.

What is DHCP? (Dynamic Host Communications Protocol)

DHCP is a standardised networking protocol which allows devices to automatically configure network information as they are connected to a network. Most commonly this is used by routers to automatically supply connected devices with an I.P address which saves network administrators from manually configuring every time a device is plugged in.

What Does DIL Mean? (Direct In Lines)

See DDI.

What is DISA? (Direct Inward System Access)

Allows an authorised external caller to access the system features (dependant on system features and access levels granted by the system administrator) – common reasons for DISA are allowing users to utilise special call rates set-up by a provider via the system, or even to allow administrators to log in and amend system settings.

What Does DPT Mean? (Digital Proprietary Telephone)

Digital Proprietary Telephones are designed for use on a manufacturer’s own system; for example, Panasonic DPT’s will only work with Panasonic systems, Cisco DPT’s will only work with Cisco systems etc. DPT’s vary in feature sets but are commonly supplied with specific buttons to take advantage of common features such as “Hold”, “Conference” and “Call Transfer”.

What is DSP? (Digital Signal Processing)

Digital signal processing involves adding various filtering effects in order to fine-tune sound quality in certain devices. The first component of DSP is converting an analogue signal to digital before effects such as compression, tone adjustments and other effects specified either by the device or in some device cases user input.

What Does EPROM Mean? (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory)

EPROMS memory chips are used in electronic devices and allow information to be stored in non-volatile fashion, meaning that information isn’t destroyed on power down. EPROMS can be erased by exposing them to a strong ultraviolet light and as such are easily recognisable by their quartz window on the chip.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is a standardised method of connecting networked computers over Local Area Networks (LAN).

What Does FTP Mean? (File Transfer Protocol)

FTP is a standardised protocol for transferring computer files over a network from one machine to another.

What does FTTC Mean?

FTTC means Fibre to the Cabinet. Your telephone company will have run Fibre Optic Cables to a street telecoms cabinet giving you access to high speed internet, howver, your home would be connected to the cabinet via copper cable. This way customers can still access high speed internet without running a fibre to the premises – FTTP (see below)

What does FTTP mean?

FTTP means Fibre to the Premises. In short, your telephone company will have run a full fibre optic connection from the exchange directly to your house. In a growing number of towns and cities across the UK, this is rapidly becoming the norm and is currently the fastest way of accessing internet connections currently up to 1000mbps (or one gigabit), ideal for medium to large businesses, where most home users at the time of writing will be fine to order a connection to 100mbps or 250mbps where both are currently more than capable of streaming multiple instances of 4k video at once.

What Does GAP Mean? (Generic Access Profile)

GAP Compatability is a a standardised and mandatory requirement for ensuring that DECT devices can communicate to one and other regardless of manufacturer.

What is Gb (Gigabyte)

1,000,000,000 bytes – A unit of measure for computing and memory storage.

What is a Gigabit?

1,000,000 bits – A unit of measure for computing and more specifically networking throughput.

What Does GPS Mean? (Global Positioning System)

A method for using orbital satellites to accurately triangulate the positioning of the GPS device on the surface of the Earth.

What is Hosted Telephony / Hosted VoIP?

Hosted VoIP means that whilst the phones at the user’s location are plugged in at the user’s premises the actual PBX itself is “hosted” off-site at the provider’s location.

What Does ICM (Intercom) Mean?

An intercom system refers to a stand-alone system of talking between two locations, for example, a door entry system in a block of flats.

What Does IP (Internet Protocol) Mean?

An IP address is a unique numerical address given to any machine on a given network.

What is IP Telephony?

Using computer networks (the internet) to make telephone calls as opposed to using other services such as analogue, ISDN or fibre calls.

What Does ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Networks) Mean?

ISDN is a set of communication standards for communicating digital voice, video, data and other services at a consistent rate over the traditional PSTN telephone lines.

What Does LAN (Local Area Network) Mean?

The name given to any small computer network within a small area such as home, office or business.

What is a Leased Line?

A private line rented by the user from the communications provider.

What Does Mb (Megabyte) Mean?

1,000,000 bytes – A unit of measure for computing and memory storage

What is a MCU (Multipoint Conference Unit)?

A multipoint conference unit, sometimes known as a bridge connects two or more video conference devices together. An MCU usually determines the capabilities of the lowest powered device and then matches all others to suit, so that conversation is as seamless as possible.

What is a MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)?

A standard messaging format allowing multimedia messages such as pictures and videos to be sent between mobile phones. MMS is (in short) an extension of the standard SMS format.

What Does MW (Message Waiting) Mean?

Message waiting is a feature on some telephones and phone system that gives the user a visual indication of the fact that a message is stored and waiting to be heard.

What is a PABX (Private Automated Branch Exchange)?

A PABX is a private telephone system that serves an organization or building – PABX systems serve internal extension numbers within the system and also provide more advanced features such as call transfer, DDI, Music on hold, message waiting, hunt groups etc.

What Does PBX (Private Branch Exchange) Mean?


What Does POTS Stand for?

An acronym for Plain Old Telephone System. Standard, copper wire, analogue telephone connections, still the prevailing technology for most home telecommunications to this day. Also see PSTN.

What is a PRI (Primary Rate Interface)?

PRI Is a standardised service level within the ISDN Framework for carrying multiple voice and data communications between a network and user.

What is a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)?

This is commonly referred to as Analogue in the telecoms industry. It Is an umbrella term for the public network of telecommunications, including copper wires, fibre optics, undersea cables etc… that go to make up the grid of telecommunications accessible to the public across the world.

What is the Phonetic Alphabet?

The Phonetic alphabet is a way of communicating specific letters of the alphabet using words as replacements for each letter so that messages can be communicated accurately where certain plosive letters sound similar such as b, p & v.

What Does Remote Call Forwarding (RCF) Mean?

Remote call forwarding allows a number to be forwarded from a remote location to the forwarded number. i.e The original call does not have to reach the designated number’s premises before it is forwarded to the new number as the remote forwarding is typically handled by the communications provider. This feature is useful for businesses with existing numbers changing geographic locations and therefore requiring a new number where calls to their previous number would need to be forwarded.

What is a Router?

A router is a piece of computing equipment that handles and directs packets of data to their required location across a network. The most familiar type of router would be the home broadband modem/router.

What is a SDSL – Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line?

Based on similar technology to ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line), SDSL allows for symmetric download and upload speeds as opposed to ADSL where download speeds are faster than upload speeds. SDSL isn’t a technology that was standardised so doesn’t have the popular uptake of ADSL.

What Does SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) Mean?

SIP is a signalling protocol used for determining and defining messages sent between endpoints on a network, more commonly used for multimedia applications such as voice & video calls.

What Does SMDR Mean? (Station Message Detail Record / Call Detail Record)

An SMDR or CDR is a record of an individual telephone call that is initiated, details recorded include; telephone number of the initiator, telephone number of the receiver, connection status, call length, billing, routes taken through the exchange and if any faults occurred on the line.

What Does SMS (Short Message Service) Mean?

SMS was developed as a way for mobile phone users to send short data (text) messages to one and other. SMS is a standardised service and is widely used across many different networks.

What Does SMTP Mean? (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

SMTP is a standardised set of protocols that allows a user’s device to connect to a mail server in order to send e-mails.

What are Speed Dials?

Speed Dials are a set of pre-set numbers added to a handset or system that allows users to call certain numbers at the push of a single (or very few) keystrokes, allowing users to very quickly access commonly used numbers. Speed Dials are often user defined, meaning that they are set by the user, but in some applications such as taxi cab phones, devices are set up by the vendor to only dial one number at the push of a button.

What Does TAM (Telephone Answering Machine) Mean?

Telephone Answering Machines are designed to automatically answer a ringing telephone line after a pre-set period of time, either an amount of rings, or by a pre-set period of time. Once the machine answers the call, a greeting message is automatically played, typically inviting the caller to record a message to be retrieved by the intended recipient at a later date. It is quite common for Telephone Answering Machines to enable remote access allowing the user to call in and retrieve messages left from a remote location.

What is Three Way Calling?

Essentially a conference call where two callers are on the line at the same time can invite in another caller from a separate, external line on to the call. Three way calling is only available where the user or business has extra lines to facilitate and “host” the third caller on the line. This functionality is usually handled by the PABX system.

What Does UMTS Mean? (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)

The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.

UMTS specifies a complete network system, which includes the radio access network (UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network, or UTRAN), the core network (Mobile Application Part, or MAP) and the authentication of users via SIM (subscriber identity module) cards.

The technology described in UMTS is sometimes also referred to as Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access (FOMA)[1] or 3GSM.

Unlike EDGE (IMT Single-Carrier, based on GSM) and CDMA2000 (IMT Multi-Carrier), UMTS requires new base stations and new frequency allocations.

Source: Wikipedia

What Does USB Mean? (Universal Serial Bus)

USB is a standardised set of designs for cables enabling devices and computers to communicate and power each other. USB was designed to standardise connection of common peripherals such as keyboards, mice and printers, but has since gone on to be utilised in thousands of different applications.

What Does VC Mean?(Video Conferencing)

Video Conferencing is a method of allowing multiple parties to talk seamlessly with each other with the advantage of being able to broadcast and receive video and images at the same time.

What is Voice Mail?

VoiceMail is an umbrella term to describe answering machine services, but it is more commonly used to describe messaging services included on PABX systems which are far more versatile than standard, home answering systems.

What Does VoIP Mean? (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

VoIP is a group of technologies designed to deliver voice data via internet connection – the term VoIP is used commonly to separate in description internet based communications from traditional POTS calls.

What Does VOX Mean?

VOX is a voice operated switch. In telecommunications it allows the user to activate a switch simply by speaking, rather than having to push a button to speak. VOX is commonly used in two-way radios with headsets where users need to keep their hands free for other tasks, so to communicate, they simply start speaking and the device or radio automatically switches on to transmit the data.

What is a VPN? (Virtual Private Network)

A virtual private network allows two separate, private networks to be connected together using a public network such at the internet. The two networks are connected together, yet behave as if they are one, single network. Traffic sent over a VPN is usually (although not exclusivey) encrypted for privacy.

What Does WAN Mean? (Wide Area Network)

A WAN is a way to describe a computer network which covers a larger area (than a Local Area Network) such as a regional, or national boundary. A WAN could be used by a large organisation, for example to allow their users to communicate and share information with each other. The internet itself could be considered a WAN since it breaks international boundaries.

What is WAP? (Wireless Application Protocol)

WAP is a technical standard for accessing information over a wireless network such as mobile phones. WAP allows mobile phones to access information via web browser, or allows networks or applications to “push” notifications to the mobile device with minimal user input.

What Does WLAN Mean? (A Wireless Local Area Network)

WLAN is a method of allowing devices to connect to a network using radio technology, most commonly known as Wi-Fi and based on the IEEE 802.11 standards.