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IP Telephony Glossary



Application Service Provider.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
A 53-byte cell switching technology well suited for carrying voice, data, and video traffic on the same infrastructure. It is inherently scalable in throughput and was designed to provide Quality of Service (QoS).

Application Service Provider (ASP)
A company that provides remote access to applications, usually over the Internet. ASPs are used when an organization finds it more cost-effective to have someone else host its applications than to install, implement, and maintain the applications at its own facility. The applications can be as simple as access to a remote file server, or as complex as an enterprise management system accessed through a standard browser. Most ASPs provide the servers, network access, and applications for a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

See Asynchronous Transfer Mode.

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
A specialized phone system that handles incoming calls or makes outgoing calls. An ACD can recognize and answer an incoming call, look in its database for instructions on what to do with that call, play a recorded message for the caller (based on instructions from the database), and send the caller to a live operator as soon as the operator is free or as soon as the caller has listened to the recorded message.


See Broadband Communications Provider.

Bell Communications Research, formed at divestiture to provide centralized services to the seven regional Bell holding companies and their operating company subsidiaries. Also coordinates national security, emergency preparedness, and other communications matters of concern to the U.S. federal government. Bellcore was acquired by SAIC in 1997 and renamed Telcordia Technologies in 1999.

High-speed voice, data, and video networked services that are digital, interactive, and packet-based. The bandwidth is 384 Kbps or higher, and 384 Kbps is widely accepted as the minimum bandwidth required to enable full-frame-rate digital video.

Broadband Communications Provider (BCP)
A new type of telecommunications company that combines the best attributes of three "traditional" voice and data providers - competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), integrated communications providers (ICPs), and Internet service providers (ISPs) - to deliver multimedia services over a ubiquitous broadband network.


Channelized Reserved Services (CRS)
A standards-based architecture enabling the auto-provisioning of next-generation IP applications in optical networks. The services are reserved by an on-the-fly channelization of bandwidth, which perfectly fits the requirements of the application. Designed to cost-effectively reduce a service provider's time to market, the CRS architecture integrates IP networking with intelligent optical transport, featuring dynamic bandwidth allocation and inherent multicast capabilities.

See Customer Interaction Management.

See Competitive Local Exchange Carrier.

Originally COmpression/DECompression. Now an overall term for the technology used in digital audio and video.

CompactPC (cPCI)
A new standard for computer backplane architecture and peripheral integration, defined and developed by the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) industrial computers manufacturers group (PICMG). Designed to provide rugged, high-density systems.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC)
Created by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a CLEC is a service provider that is in direct competition with an incumbent service provider. CLEC is often used as a general term for any competitor, but the term actually has legal implications. To become a CLEC, a service provider must be granted "CLEC status" by a state's Public Utilities Commission. In exchange for the time and money spent to gain CLEC status, the CLEC is entitled to co-locate its equipment in the incumbent's central office, which saves the CLEC considerable expense.

Computer Telephony (CT)
Adding computer intelligence to the making, receiving, and managing of telephone calls.

See CompactPCI.

See Customer Relationship Management.

See Channelized Reserved Services.

See Computer Telephony.

CT Server
A standards-based open telephony server for delivering services in a business enterprise or telephone central office. At its core is software that allows multiple applications and technologies from different vendors to interoperate on one server.

Customer Interaction Management (CIM)
The technology and processes associated with handling multiple customer communications touch points, including telephony, e-mail, and Web site interaction.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The way in which a company manages interactions with its customers. A successful CRM solution depends on an ability to interact with customers through any channel they choose, as well as a way to track and maintain real-time records of customer interactions so a complete view of the customer is always available.


See Double Data Rate.

Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)
A telephone service that identifies the number that the caller dialed for the receiver of the call. DNIS is a common feature of 800 and 900 services, and can identify the number originally dialed when multiple 800 or 900 numbers terminate on the same destination trunks. DNIS works by passing the dialed number to the destination device, which can act upon this data to control its routing, queuing, IVR, or other call behavior. DNIS is typically used to separate call treatment for different inbound campaigns or help desk numbers, whether in one enterprise or at a service bureau.

Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
A specialized digital microprocessor that performs calculations on digitized signals that were originally analog, and then forwards the results. The big advantage of DSPs lies in their programmability. DSPs can be used to compress voice signals to as little as 4,800 bps. DSPs are an integral part of all voice processing systems and fax machines.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
A technology that allows a provider to use the excess bandwidth found in a copper line for the provision of data services. While this technology was meant to make use of an enormous copper infrastructure until fiber optic cable was fully deployed, it has become an industry unto itself. xDSL is used to describe all of the "flavors" of DSL in general.

See Dialed Number Identification Service.

Double Data Rate (DDR)
A term used to describe a synchronous DRAM (see SDRAM), which transfers data on both edges of the system clock (rather than just one edge), thus doubling the data transfer rate.

See Digital Subscriber Line.

See Digital Signal Processor.

See Dynamic Synchronous Transfer Mode.

See Dual-tone Multifrequency.

Dual-Tone Multifrequency (DTMF)
A way of signaling consisting of a push-button or touch tone dial that sends out a sound consisting of two discrete tones that are picked up and interpreted by telephone switches (either PBXs or central offices).

Dynamic Synchronous Transfer Mode (DTM)
A dynamic circuit-switched technology that provides transport between routers through channels, and enables high-speed optical transport. In DTM, a channel has a dedicated bandwidth and forms a dynamic route between the sender and receiver, passing through the routers along the path. Quality of Service (QoS) channels are established on the fly and set up extremely quickly. Routers along a channel's path easily pass data from one link to the next, as no address information must be checked. No packets need to be stored in buffers, so no packet buffers are needed. Consequently, there is no risk of the buffer overflow, which could lead to packet loss and net congestion.


See Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum.

Edge Switch
A network-switching device designed to perform functions usually associated with a router in a LAN or WAN environment.

Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum (ECTF)
A non-profit, California-based organization that develops computer telephony standards.

eXtensible Markup Language (xML)
A coding system that allows any type of information to be delivered across the World Wide Web in a structured manner. As a meta-language, it contains rules for constructing other markup languages and allows the creation of tags that expand the type and quantity of information that can be provided about data held in documents. It shares with HTML the common heritage of the SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) standard. However, unlike HTML, XML is truly general purpose. The World Wide Web Consortium completed XML in early 1998, and the standard has quickly gained industry-wide, multi-vendor acceptance.


See Federal Communications Commission.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The U.S. federal agency responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.


A component of the ITU H.323 "umbrella" of standards defining real-time multimedia communications and conferencing for packet-based networks. The gatekeeper is the central control entity that performs management functions in a Voice and Fax over IP network and for multimedia applications such as video conferencing. Gatekeepers provide intelligence for the network, including address resolution, authorization, and authentication services, the logging of call detail records, and communications with network management systems. Gatekeepers also monitor the network for engineering purposes as well as for real-time network management and load balancing, control bandwidth, and provide interfaces to existing legacy systems.

An entrance into and out of a communications network. Technically, a gateway is an electronic repeater device that intercepts and steers electrical signals from one network to another.

A version of ADSL (see DSL) that delivers 1.5 Mbps downstream and 640 kbps upstream and is specifically tailored for the consumer market segment. G.lite reduces the need for phone companies to send out a representative to complete an on-site installation by decreasing the need for new wiring and for a special signal "splitter" that separates voice and data at the user's home. G.lite delivers "always-on" Internet access at high speeds using existing wiring and allowing the concurrent use of normal telephone service.


A physical-layer computer telephony or TDM bus specification, used for connecting board-level resources within a CompactPCI chassis. For example, an H.110 bus is used to bridge channels between a T-1/E-1 interface board and a DSP resource board. The H.110 bus supports up to 4,096 simultaneous channels. Within a CPCI system, the H.110 bus is physically implemented within a fixed mid-plane, greatly facilitating board removal and hot-swap when compared with older-style ribbon-cable overlays.

An ITU-T standard for packet-based multimedia communications systems. This standard defines the different multimedia entities that make up a multimedia system - Endpoint, Gateway, Multipoint Conferencing Unit (MCU), and Gatekeeper - and their interaction. This standard is used for many voice-over-IP applications, and is heavily dependent on other standards, mainly H.225 and H.245.


See Integrated Access Device.

See Integrated Communications Provider.

See Internet Engineering Task Force.

See Internet Fax Routing Forum.

See Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier.

See Internet Messaging Application Protocol.

See International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium.

Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC)
Typically the carrier that was granted the right to provide service as a result of the breakup of AT&T. These providers are also referred to as RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) or Baby Bells.

Integrated Access Device (IAD)
A customer premise device that processes voice and LAN traffic for a single local connection to the wide area network.

Integrated Communications Provider (ICP)
A communications carrier that provides both network facilities and tailored packages for business including voice, data, and secure applications. These services are provided simultaneously through the same channel (such as a POTS, DSL, or cable line). Through an ICP, users are able to secure all their communications services from one provider and receive one, all-inclusive bill.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
A new network designed to improve the world's telecommunications services by providing an internationally accepted standard for voice, data, and signaling; by making all transmission circuits end-to-end digital; by adopting a standard out-of-band signaling system; and by bringing more bandwidth to the desktop.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Links callers with information in databases. This technology allows callers to complete transactions or queries over the phone. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is fast replacing the DTMF method of activating IVR services and is one of the most important recent innovations in telephony-based self-service.

Interexchange Carrier (IXC)
A long distance carrier such as AT&T, MCI, or Sprint.

International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium (IMTC)
A non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting standards for audiographics and videoconferencing.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
An organization established by the United Nations to set telecommunications standards, allocate frequencies to various uses, and sponsor trade shows every four years.

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
One of two technical working bodies in the Internet Activities Board. It meets three times a year to set the technical standards for the Internet.

Internet Fax Routing Forum (IFRF)
A group that published a specification that allows companies to interconnect their Internet fax servers so that service providers can route faxes for them.

Internet Messaging Application Protocol (IMAP)
An Internet protocol that allows a central server to provide remote access to email messages.

Internet Protocol (IP)
A unique, 32-bit number for a specific TCP/IP host on the Internet, normally printed in decimal form (for example, Part of the TCP/IP family of protocols, it describes software that tracks the Internet address of nodes, routes outgoing messages, and recognizes incoming messages.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A vendor who provides direct access to the Internet.

See Internet Protocol.

IP Gatekeeper
An H.323 entity that defines the policies that govern a multimedia system (e.g. dialing plans, user privileges, bandwidth consumption, etc.). The gatekeeper also provides the means to extract information from such a system for various purposes. (e.g., billing information, users that are logged in, etc.). The gatekeeper is also a focal point for the introduction of supplementary services.

IP Gateway
Most commonly, a network device that converts voice and fax calls, in real time, between the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and an IP network. Primary IP gateway functions include voice, fax, compression/decompression, packetization, call routing, and control signaling. Additional features may include interfaces to external controllers, such as gatekeepers or soft-switches, billing systems, and network management systems.

An enterprise-based IP data network device that switches VoIP telephone traffic.

IP Telephony
Technology that allows voice phone calls to be made over the Internet or other packet networks using a PC via gateways and standard telephones.

An extension of the Ethernet LAN standard proposed by IBM and National Semiconductor, which has the potential to carry both live voice or video calls together with LAN packet data on the same cable.

See Internet Service Provider.

See International Telecommunications Union.

See Interactive Voice Response.

See InterExchange Carrier.


See Local Exchange Carrier.

Lifeline POTS
A voice telephone line that works even if electricity is cut off at the customer premises, since the line is powered from emergency backup at the central office. Multiple lifeline POTS lines can be delivered on one copper pair with the use of a digital line powered pair gain system.

Local Exchange Carrier (LEC)
A company that provides local telephone service.


Media Gateway
A generic class of products grouped under the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP). A major function of the media gateway is simple IP/TDM conversion under the control of a softswitch. Media gateways include, but are not limited to, the following types of equipment: standalone, server-based gateways, RAS-based gateways, gateway switches, traditional CO switches, and ATM switches.

Media Server
A device that processes multimedia applications such as call distribution, fax-on-demand, and automated e-mail response programs. Media servers consolidate separate communications devices, often resulting in reduced start-up costs, simplified maintenance and administration, and increased application development flexibility.

Multi-Service Access Switch
The first point of user access and exit for processing and managing traffic over high-speed broadband networks.

Multi-Service Router
A type of router that examines calls in the PSTN before they are sent to a particular site. A special signaling link, which can send advance notification of incoming calls, can be obtained from the central office. A pre-call routing system can receive this information, look at the current state of all call centers, and then send a notification back to the PSTN indicating where the call is to go. Thus the call is routed before it is even picked up. Post-call routing is used in cases where the decision to redirect a call is not (or cannot be) made until some time after the call is connected at a particular location.


See Private Branch Exchange.

Policy Manager
An IP network element that enforces bandwidth assignment rules for classes of service and Quality of Service (QoS), as dictated by a user or a service provider.

The measure and status of a user's ability to communicate and be communicated with at any given moment. It includes the reception media (voice, video, instant messaging), the user's availability, and the user's willingness to communicate by various means and through various people (even if a phone is busy, for example). It also takes into account the capabilities and characteristics of each medium (whether a phone is for business or personal use, or which cell site a cell phone is in at that moment). Presence information can be distributed to interested parties through a presence service when it changes. Some specific types of presence services are "buddy lists" and "instant messengers."

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
A telephone switch owned privately, usually by a large company. If it owns a PBX, a company does not need to lease a telephone line for each telephone set at a site.


Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP)
The Internet-standard protocol for the transport of real-time data, including audio and video. RTP is used in virtually all voice-over-IP architectures, for videoconferencing, media-on-demand, and other applications. A thin protocol, it supports content identification, timing reconstruction, and detection of lost packets.

See Real-time Transport Protocol.


A standard bus for computer telephony hardware components. Its hybrid architecture consists of a serial message bus for control and signaling and a 16-wire TDM data bus.

See Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory.

See Symmetrical Digital Subscribe Line.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
An Internet standard specified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in RFC 2543. SIP is used to initiate, manage, and terminate interactive sessions between one or more users on the Internet. SIP, which borrows heavily from HTTP and the e-mail protocol SMTP, provides scalability, extensibility, and flexibility, and capabilities for creating new services. SIP is increasingly used for Internet telephony signaling, in gateways, PC phones, softswitches, and softphones, but it is not limited to Internet telephony, and can be used to initiate and manage any type of session, including video, interactive games, and text chat.

See Session Initiation Protocol.

Skills-Based Routing
Routing technique that takes into account individual agents' abilities as well as their skill levels when making real-time routing decisions. Blended agent-pool support insures maximum agent capacity is used during periods of peak call volume.

Skills-Based Scheduling
Scheduling technique that takes into account individual agents' abilities as well as their skill levels when forecasting and scheduling manpower needs. It accommodates agents with multiple skills. Skills scheduling allocates a number of hours per skill per agent, based on forecasted call center needs for that agent's particular skills. Abilities with different multimedia responses, including voice, fax, online chat, and email, are also taken into account.

Generic term for any open application program interface (API) software used to bridge a public switched telephone network and voice over Internet protocol by separating the call control functions of a phone call from the media gateway (transport layer).

Software PBX
A telephone system that converges voice and data on an industry-standard computing platform and uses computer telephony components that conform to industry standards. Because they conform to industry standards, software PBXs are interoperable with third-party systems and CT components. Conformance also allows software PBXs to run third-party enhanced applications such as desktop call control, graphical voice mail, automatic call distribution (ACD), IP gateways, follow-me call forwarding, unified messaging, and CRM integration.

Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)
A line in which upstream (customer premise to the network) speed is the same as downstream (network to the customer premise) speed. SDSL is found almost exclusively in business environments because, typically, residential customers do need high upstream speed.

Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory (SDRAM)
A DRAM that transfers data in synchronization with the system clock, performing one data transfer for each clock cycle. Earlier DRAM types such as FMP (fast page mode) and EDO (extended data out) were asynchronous (and slower), because they needed a carefully timed series of command signals to initiate a data transfer.


Trunk Level 1. A high-speed (1.544 megabits per second) digital telephone line with the equivalent of 24 individual 64Kbps channels, which are joined via time division multiplexing. A T-1 can be used to transmit voice or data, and many are used to provide connections to the Internet. Also known as a DS1 or Digital Signal 1.

See Telephony Application Programming Interface.

A telephony application service provider supplies companies with new telephony applications, technologies, and an infrastructure at little to no premise-based capital cost. A TASP hosts managed services and application solutions through the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), which customers can log into, and through open standard application development platforms such as XML and VoiceXML, which can integrate almost seamlessly with the Internet. The TASP delivery model enables rapid implementation, decreased cost of ownership, and reduces the need for on-site technical expertise.

Telcordia Technologies
See Bellcore.

Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI)
Enables developers to write PC applications that take advantage of services provided by telephony vendors. Applications can be developed to work with telephone systems ranging from a simple Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) connection to advanced PBXs. TAPI, for example, can enable an application to dial a telephone number, store commonly dialed numbers, record greetings, and even take dictation using speech recognition.

Traffic Shaping
The process by which IP flows are classified, queued, and delivered to a network to conform to the contracted service, in order to improve efficiency and minimize packet loss for traffic classified as time-sensitive or high priority.


Unified Messaging
An application that provides a single network-based access point from which users can manage all information and message types, using any number and variety of access devices (PC, web browser, phone, etc.), from anywhere, and regardless of connection path (LAN, Internet, telephone). Unified messaging solutions seamlessly integrate voice mail, e-mail, and fax in a single e-mail inbox on one server. From a central digital store, all of these message types are accessible via multiple devices and interfaces with a consistent set of features and capabilities.


Voice Browser
Similar in functionality to PC-based web browsers, a voice browser is designed to standardize the user interface and experience for consumers browsing voice-driven content and services on the Voice Web. In contrast to a "traditional" web browser, which resides as a client on a user's PC, a voice browser operates in a centralized server, which houses the voice resources to speak out or listen for VoiceXML-tagged content. The user's phone, in this context, is analogous to a keyboard and mouse in relation to a browser, and is used to transfer user responses.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
Technology used to transmit voice conversations over a data network using the Internet Protocol. VoIP primarily builds on and complements existing standards, such as H.323.

Voice Portal
Services that offer access to a range of information sources from one 800 number dialed from any type of phone. Typical information includes stock market data, weather, news, sports, business locators, and audio feeds of headline news and traffic reports.

Voice Web
An audible "network of networks" that links the telephone network with the world wide web, and allows Internet content and commerce to be accessed from any phone, anywhere in the world using spoken commands.

An emerging standard markup language that defines a common format for allowing access to web content via the phone. VoiceXML uses XML tags to represent call flows and dialog, and enables phone access, navigation, and content delivery from any website adhering to the standard. It also allows Web content to be delivered to wireless phone users, greatly expanding the audience for such services.

See Voice Over Internet Protocol


See Wide Area Network.

See Wireless Application Protocol.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
A communications network used to connect computers and other devices across a large area. The connection can be private or public.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
A protocol that enables wireless phones and other wireless devices to access data over the Internet and/or Intranets and to display that data on WAP-enabled devices. WAP is an open standard and is air-link independent, which means that it works across a wide range of devices, and a broad base of manufacturers and developers is creating products for it. WAP operates on the client server model and requires software on the handset and a WAP gateway/server on the network level.


See eXtensible Markup Language.

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