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ACD: (Automatic Call Distributor) A telephone system that manages incoming calls and distributes them based on caller commands or preferences. An ACD is a staple of call centers that need to direct calls to specific agent groups in sales, service, and support capacities.

ADSL: (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A version of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), ADSL allocates greater resources to transmit data from the Internet to the user than it does from the user to the Internet. ADSL is most common for consumers, since they generally use their service to browse the Internet and the faster downstream speeds more closely meet their needs.

Adjunct: Any device added to an existing telephone extension, such as a Caller ID unit or a headset.

Algorithm : A problem-solving technique. Algorithms are characterized by a specific formula, finite length, and a clear end result and termination.

Amplifier: In general, any device that increases the voltage, current, or power of a signal. In telecom contexts, it refers to any device placed along a phone line that strengthens a voice signal. Most telephone headsets include an amplifier that provides both signal boosting (volume and transmit control) as well as tone control to adjust sound quality.

Amplifier settings: The brains of any headset system, the amplifier houses all the controls for your headset. When you first connect your system, you may need to adjust the amp settings, so your headset works with your specific phone or phone system. On some systems you just push a button, and the amp learns your phone, then sets itself up automatically. Others require simple manual adjustment via small switches that are usually located on the back, bottom, or side of the amplifier.

Analog: Refers to a continuous, variable sound wave that is used to transmit signals from one location to another. Television, radio, and telephones have traditionally used analog signals as their carrier waves, transmitting signals via modulation in amplitude (AM) or by modulation in frequency (FM)

Authentication: The process of confirming that an individual or computer is who or what it claims to be. Authentication of a person is typically handled by a password in the user log-in process. Knowledge of a private password is considered sufficient to verify the identity of the user. Authentication of a computer is a little more involved. Typical methods include hashing (a specific numeric code that represents the message or data being sent and changes if the data is altered in any way); digital signatures (specific to a computer); and digital certificates issued by a certificate and registration authority that include public/private key encryption. A combination of these methods currently provides the best available security.

Automated Attendant A "robot receptionist" that answers and routes incoming calls. This feature is often coupled with voice mail in order to provide answering and recording capabilities for calls that cannot be connected.


Background noise: You'll most often see this term when reading about noise-canceling microphones that filter out background noise. It refers to the everyday sounds that are all around you…people talking, papers shuffling, computer equipment buzzing, and so on. If your Mic transmitted all those sounds along with your voice it would probably be hard for the person on the other end to hear what you were saying.

Backup files: We recommend making copies of files that you've stored to a second medium (a CD or an e-mail server, for example) as a precaution, should the first medium fails. Anyone who has ever lost data knows it's well worth the time it takes to back up files regularly.

Band: A specific range of frequencies in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. In the United States, the FCC regulates bands to minimize interference. Each band is assigned a range of transmission frequencies. For example, very high frequency (VHF), which is used for television and radio (AM and FM) transmission, may exist only on frequencies ranging from 30 to 300 MHz (Megahertz).

Bandwidth: 1) When used in reference to digital systems, bandwidth describes the amount of data that can be transmitted on a given path. The standard measurement in the digital transmission context is a multiple of bits per second. 2) In analog systems, bandwidth refers to the difference between the highest and lowest Frequency State (number of cycles per second or Hertz) used on any given signal within a band.

Belt Pack: A cordless headset style comprising 2 mobile components: a cordless pack that transmits and receives radio signals (transceiver), and a lightweight headset top. The radio pack generally has a clip that attaches to a belt or pocket, and is also attached by a cord that runs to the headset top. This headset style contrasts with the all-in-one cordless headset that has an integrated transceiver in the headset top.

Binary: A numbering scheme that only has 2 unique values: "0" and "1".

Binaural: A headset style that has 2 speakers—1 for each ear. Because having both ears covered allows the user to more fully concentrate on the caller without being distracted, a binaural headset is especially useful in noisy environments.

Bit: (Binary digit) - In digital signals, a bit represents the smallest piece of information that can be transmitted and is represented by either a "1" or a "0". A string of eight bits is commonly called a byte.

Bits per Second: (BPS or b/s) - A measure of how many digital bits ("1" or "0") that may be sent in the space of one second. These will be seen most commonly in measurements Kbps (kilobits, or thousands of bits, per second), Mbps (megabits, or millions) or Gbps (gigabits, or billions).

Bluetooth: A short-range radio specification that is used to network various electronic devices without wires. Bluetooth has been integrated into notebook computers, headsets, PDAs, and Local Area Networks (LANs) to enable interoperability, Internet access, and resource sharing.

Boot: The initial loading of a computer's operating system.

Bridge: A device that connects 2 Local Area Networks (LANs). Unlike a router, a bridge is used only in a LAN, never on larger networks. Another difference: a router sends packets to a specified location, whereas a bridge sends it to all destinations simultaneously.

Broadband: Any form of telecommunication that carries multiple channels over a single wired or wireless medium can be considered broadband. The term broadband is commonly used to describe high-speed access to multiple services, such as cable TV, telephone service, and data that are transmitted simultaneously.

Browser: A computer application that enables users to view and interact with information on the Internet.

Bus: In computer technology, a bus refers to a signal path that is shared by multiple devices or peripherals. Each device along the path only recognizes signals that are intended for that device, and effectively ignores any other signals along the path (see Universal Serial Bus).

Busy indicator or busy light: This accessory makes it very easy for people to tell when you're on a call-even when you're using the most discreet headset. It lights up, so they can see at a glance that you're busy and on the phone. It's a way to prevent interrupting the headset user and it's helpful for the folks who monitor group phone activity. The indicator works whenever you're on the phone, with or without a headset.


CAT Cable: A twisted-pair wire that has been categorized to indicate maximum data rate and applications. CAT 1 cable is typically used for plain old telephone service (POTS) and has a maximum data transfer rate of under 1 Mbps; whereas CAT 5 cable is used for high-speed applications and can transmit over 100 Mbps on the twisted-pair cable. While superficially appearing similar, CAT cables are very different in capacity and it is important to determine planned use before selecting cabling.

CD-ROM: Compact Disc Read-Only Memory. An optical disc that looks just like an audio CD, but serves a different need. It stores approximately 680 megabytes of computer data. The data is written to and read from the disk via the light of a laser. Some people also refer to the computer drive that reads these discs as a CD-ROM.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access): A form of multiplexing that permits simultaneous use of a single channel by a number of users. CDMA employs digital spread spectrum technology to send the signal in a precise sequence (code) along multiple channels. The code is varied constantly, making it difficult to intercept or clone CDMA signals.

CLASS (Custom Local Area Signaling Service): A service provided by the phone company that sends an electrical signal to a receiving device when other phone company services (voice mail, for example) have been activated. The CLASS signal notifies the subscriber that a message is waiting to be retrieved.

CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier): CLECs compete with Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) and provide their own switching and networks, though they usually lease the lines and capacity from an ILEC. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 made this competition possible by regulating the prices that ILECs could charge CLECs for use of the ILEC’s network.

CO (Central Office): The phone company facility where subscribers’ lines are linked to switching equipment and connected to other subscribers. A CO will handle a local area, but can connect to a CO in any other locale or to a mobile phone.

CTI (Computer Telephony Integration): A series of applications and peripherals that enables the use of a computer for voice communications and call control. Implemented initially for streamlining call routing and call logs in call centers, CTI now describes any calls made from a computer, whether over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or via IP telephony.

Cable Modem: A device that allows users to connect a PC to a local cable TV line for data transmission. Cable modems provide high-speed connections at about 1.5 Mbps (megabits per second), comparable to a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and significantly faster than dial-up modems. This type of service is often referred to as broadband service.

Call Appearance: Any phone call that is received on a system-based telephone. Many phone systems allow for multiple call appearances on a single extension, particularly on receptionist telephones that allow one or more callers to be put on hold while other calls are answered.

Call Forwarding: A service provided by the Phone Company that forwards a call received on one phone number to an alternate number that has been designated by the user.

Call Waiting: A service provided by the phone company that allows a subscriber to answer a second call when already on another call on the same phone line. The recipient of the call is generally notified of the second call by a tone provided by the Phone Company’s Central Office (CO).

Caller ID (CID): A service provided by the phone company that sends the telephone number, date, time of the call, and in some cases the name of the calling party to the recipient of the phone call. Associated services include Caller ID Block, which prevents the call information from being sent from the caller's Central Office (CO) and Call Waiting/Caller ID which allows the call recipient to see the number of a second caller when already on another call.

Carbon Microphone: A microphone common to older telephones. Carbon microphones require no power source other than line power in order to operate. Cascade 1) Successive stages, processes, or functions that are directly caused by input from a preceding stage, process, or function. 2) A series of virtually identical interconnected electronic devices such as small telephone systems or stackable network hubs. Cell In wireless telephone applications, a cell refers to the geographical area within range of the transmitter/receiver antenna (or cell site) covered by a service provider’s cell site.

Cell Site: The physical location of the antenna or wireless telephony transmitter/receiver.

Cellular Telephone: A telephone that connects by wireless (radio) signal to a cell site. Originally, the terms "cellular" and "cell phone" referred only to analog service but the term has become a catchall reference to any mobile telephone.

Central Office Line (CO Line): A single analog telephone line sent directly from the phone company.

Centrex (Central Office Exchange Service) : A service package offered by the phone company. It gives standard phone users the ability to access key system or PBX features without having to purchase an expensive system. In essence, the PBX/key systems are maintained and operated by the Phone Company.

Channel: In telecommunications contexts, channel refers to any path between 2 devices. A channel can be anything from a wire linking 2 computers in a network to a specific radio frequency in a wireless application (radio or television, for instance). Client In a standard client/server relationship, the client is the user application that requests information. A common use of client/server is web browsing. The user’s browser acts as the client and the computer delivering the requested information is the server.

Clustering: The act of combining several smaller phone systems in concert to achieve larger-system functions. This method also minimizes downtime in the event of a system malfunction—only a portion of the clustered system is affected rather than the entire network.

Conductor: On a registered jack (RJ), the conductors are the copper pins in the plug of a handset cord and in the telephone jack that connect the telephone to the wall jack. For example, a RJ-14 jack, the standard jack for 2-line telephones, has 4 active conductors, 2 per phone line.

Cookie: A small text message that is placed in your web browser by the web server for a site that you've visited. The message is sent back to the server each time your browser requests a page from that server, so you are identified as a return visitor. This saves you from having to enter the same information about yourself each time you visit. It also provides the opportunity for the server to present you with a customized welcome page and other content.

Cordless Headset: A cordless headset allows you to talk hands free and cord free. However, a cordless headset does require a connection between the cordless headset base unit and the telephone.

Cordless Telephone: A telephone that does not require a wired connection between the base of the phone and the handset (or receiver). Cordless phones may use digital or analog signals between the base and receiver of the telephone. Cordless telephones are designed to work directly from Central Office (CO) lines as opposed to wireless phones, which employ cell sites for operation.

Cramming: The practice of some telecommunications service providers of adding services and charges to a customer’s bill without notifying the customer.

Crosstalk: Crosstalk occurs when an undesired signal from one channel interferes with the signals of a separate channel. Analog cordless phones generate crosstalk when they are tuned to adjacent or identical radio frequencies.


DID (Direct Inward Dial) : A feature offered by key and PBX systems that allows callers to connect directly with PBX users without having to navigate menus or speak with a receptionist

. DIP Switch (Dual In-Line Package Switch) : A small switch usually attached to a circuit board. This switch is used to activate or deactivate the pathways of the circuit board at a specific junction.

DND (Do Not Disturb) : A user-activated function within some telephone systems that makes an extension unavailable to receive internal or external phone calls.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) : A network service that provides high-speed data transmission over standard twisted-pair copper wires. DSL service is up to 30 times faster than standard telephone dial-up lines.

DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency): The frequency tone pairs produced by the dial pad on a touch-tone phone. This signal sends instructions to the switching device to which it is connected. DTMF has all but replaced loop disconnects, or pulse, dialing.

Data compression: A technique for storing and transmitting data in a format that requires less space than usual.

Database: A collection of organized, retrievable data. The most common types are the relational database and the hypertext database. A relational database stores information in 3 levels: field (any single referenceable item), record (a collection of related fields), and file (a collection of related records). The conventional phone book is an example of a relational database: individual telephone numbers names and addresses are fields, a line listing is a record, and the complete phone book is a file. Relational databases on computers simplify record retrieval; a user is able to locate a complete record by searching for any of the fields contained in it. The hypertext database is used mainly on the Internet. Hypertext links allow you to point and click on selected words on a web page to link to other locations or pages on the Internet. A hypertext database is not organized in any specific relational format.

Dedicated Line: A phone line maintained for a specific purpose or function. For instance, a company that performs most of its sales by faxed orders will often have a phone line dedicated to receiving fax transmissions.

Demarcation Point (also Point of Demarcation): The point at which the lines from the phone company’s Central Office (CO) physically passes into a building.

Dial-up: A means of establishing an Internet connection through the analog Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Dial-up connections require the use of a modem to convert the digital signal from the computer to an analog signal that can be routed by the PSTN.

Dialpad: The numbered keys on the telephone. Pressing the number on a dialpad sends instructions to the Central Office (CO) for routing a telephone call.

Digital: 1) In telecommunications contexts, digital refers to the method of storing, retrieving, and transmitting data in a sequence of discrete symbols, usually binary. 2) In common usage, digital may refer to a readout that uses numbers rather than scale positions (i.e., digital display, digital clock, etc.).

Digital Adapter: A device used to convert a digital phone line to a format compatible with an analog product. Typical uses of a digital adapter include teleconferencing and data transmission through a PBX.

Directory: In general, any list that provides access to retrievable contents. On a telephone, a built-in directory is a saved phone list accessible through one or a set of function keys. On a computer, a directory stores retrievable information in an "inverted tree" system. Directories on PCs are also commonly referred to as folders. Duplex Adapter An accessory that connects to a 1- or 2-line jack that splits the signal and allows more than 1 phone to be connected to the jack. A duplex adapter does not provide an additional connection to the Central Office (CO), but it does permit connection to a second device.

dB (Decibel) : 1) A logarithmic expression that provides a relative measure (or ratio) of 2 or more electrical states. The decibel is used to describe differences in signal power and voltage in electronics. 2) Absolutes measure for the relative intensity of acoustic sound per unit of area.


EMI: (ElectroMagnetic Interference) : Electromagnetic fields are produced by the passage of electrical current through a power line or device. As current passes through, it creates a magnetic field that varies in intensity and size in proportion to the electrical charge being carried by the conducting medium. Electromagnetic fields can interfere with the function of telephones, radios, and other communications devices.

Electret Microphone: The most common microphone for new telephones. Electret microphones require an external power supply.

Encryption: The alteration of information into a code or cipher that can be read only by someone who has the decrypting key. Encryption is intended to make it difficult for people who do not have the decryption key to intercept and decipher the information. While not 100% secure, encryption is one of several measures used to provide secure communications over the Internet. Encryption is further enhanced by regular changes to the encryption/decryption key, a process common for secure transactions on the web.

Ergonomics: The study and application of user-friendly equipment design. Ergonomics is intended to maximize productivity by minimizing repetitive stress factors, discomfort, and fatigue of equipment users.

Ethernet: Ethernet is the most commonly encountered Local Area Network (LAN) protocol. Ethernet originally supported data transfer rates of 10 Mbps, but newer versions, such as Fast Ethernet (100Base-T or 100 Mbps) and Gigabit Ethernet (1000Base-T or 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps) have increased the capacity of Ethernet in LANs. Ethernet applications have recently become available to residential and home-business users using Ethernet-ready gateways.

Extranet: A shared information resource accessible to both internal and external users over standard Internet protocols. Extranets are generally provided by companies so that customers or partners may have access to select areas of the company’s internal network, or Intranet.


FRS (Family Radio Service) - A short-range, 2-way radio service designated for recreation and other non-business applications. Due to its limited range, specific frequencies, and intended applications, FRS does not require FCC licensing, unlike the more powerful GMRS radios do. FRS uses Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands between 462 and 469 MHz.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) - A standard Internet protocol that enables a server to transfer files to a requesting client. The most common application of FTP is the process of downloading programs or other files over the Internet.

Facsimile (Fax) - Refers to the transmission of visual or text data relayed over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to an output device. Fax machines are usually dedicated devices assigned to a telephone number specific to its function.

Firewall: A set of related hardware or software products and programs designed to prevent access to or from a private network (Intranet) by unauthorized users. There are numerous screening methods, including passwords and higher-level encryption. Most companies will use a combination of hardware and software solutions.

Flash: Quickly pressing and releasing the hookswitch to signal the PBX/Central Office (CO) that another signal (Call Transfer or Call Waiting, for example) is desired. Most modern phones provide a flash button that performs the same function.

Flash Memory: A type of memory chip that is programmed, erased, and reprogrammed in memory segments called 'blocks.' Compared to standard memory, which is reprogrammed byte-by-byte, erasure and reprogramming in flash blocks takes considerably less time. Flash memory is popular for products and peripherals that need flexible, reprogrammable memory, and for products that offer upgrades via the Internet.

Follow-me Service: A unified messaging service that will call programmed phone numbers in succession in an effort to locate the user. For example, follow-me service may attempt—in sequence—an office phone, then a cell phone, followed by a home phone, before ultimately sending the call to a voice mail/paging service.

Frequency: A measure of the number of cycles completed per unit of time. In radio communications contexts, the common measure is Hertz, or cycles per second, of a radio wave. If a wave completes 10 cycles per second, it is measured as a wave of 10 Hz. Common multiples include the Kilohertz (KHz, or 1,000 cycles per second), Megahertz (MHz, or 1,000,000 cycles per second) and Gigahertz (GHz or 1,000,000,000 cycles per second). In computer processing contexts, frequency is a measurement of clock speed, or oscillations per second, that the processor completes. This measurement uses identical nomenclature as radio transmissions.

Full Duplex: A form of 2-way communication that allows users to receive and transmit voice signals simultaneously.


GMS: This is an international standard for digital cell phone communication. Originated in Europe, the initials originally stood for Groupe Spéciale Mobile, but now represent

Global System for Mobile Communications: Having such a standard ensures compatibility, so one can use the same cell phone for travel between countries. Today more than 105 countries, including the United States and Japan, have existing or planned GSM networks. These networks account for a large percentage of the world's cellular market.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) - GSM is the most widely used mobile telecommunications standard in the world. A form of Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) multiplexing, GSM is the standard in Europe and Asia.

Gateway Hardware, software or a combination of the two that acts as an entry point to a network. Gateway servers are also commonly used as firewall servers that guard against the entry of unauthorized users to a private network. In the client/server model, there is a gateway at the entry to both end points.

Gigabit (Gb) - 1) In terms of data transfer, one gigabit per second (Gbps) refers to 1,000,000,000 bits of information transferred per second. 2) In relation to data storage, one gigabit is exactly equal to 1,073,741,824 bits of stored data.

Gigahertz (GHz): 1) In radio frequency (RF) transmissions, GHz is used to describe 1,000,000,000 cycles per second, or Hertz. 2) In computing contexts, GHz describes 1,000,000,000 oscillations per second of the computer’s processor.


H.323 A standard approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the H.323 communications standard supports videoconferencing and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Theoretically, all devices using the H.323 standard can communicate with each other.

HPNA (Home Phoneline Network Alliance) - A standard for the creation of Local Area Networks (LANs) in residential or home-office environments. HPNA uses modified Ethernet technology to simultaneously transmit voice and data applications using a home’s existing copper wiring and jacks.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) - A set of markup symbols (or tags) that are used to describe the appearance of a page on the worldwide web when displayed on a web browser. The current version of HTML is 4.0, (a.k.a. dynamic HTML). HTML is constantly evolving to increase flexibility for web presentations. The next version is a marriage of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and HTML called Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) that will provide greater flexibility for new web applications.

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) - A set of rules for sharing files on the worldwide web. The most direct use of HTTP is the request for a web page by selecting a hypertext link. This HTTP request is sent to the selected Internet Protocol (IP) address. After it has been processed and authorized, the HTTP request is sent back to the client with the requested data.

Half Duplex: A form of 2-way communication that allows users to receive and communicate by voice, but not at the same time. Half duplex is common in speakerphones, intercoms, and 2-way radios.

Handset: The handheld part of a telephone that is used for transmitting and receiving voice signals. Also referred to as a telephone receiver.

Headset: An alternative device to a telephone handset. Headsets require a connection to a telephone, usually through the handset jack (RJ-9) on a corded phone, or via a built-in jack on a cordless or wireless phone.

Hertz (Hz) - The measure of the number of cycles per second of a waveform or system. It is used to 1) measure the frequency of a radio signal; 2) measure the frequency of sonic waves; or 3) measure the clock speed of a microprocessor by the number of oscillations the processor completes per second.

Home Run Wiring (also Star or Parallel Wiring) - A wiring topology that connects all phones or network devices directly to a central hub. Each device has a direct line (or "run") back to the central location (or "home").

Home RF (Home Radio Frequency) A standard created specifically for wireless networking in the home. Home RF is a competing standard with 802.11b (or Wi-Fi), though the applications do not necessarily overlap. 802.11 standards were developed with enterprise networking in mind.

Hookswitch: The mechanism that opens and closes the phone line to a phone. It is typically located at the top of the phone’s base (and therefore beneath the phone’s receiver) and is released by the act of removing the handset from the cradle, hence the term "off-hook." Host 1) A computer system that provides service features to other computers. Used in this context, any computer that acts as a server can be considered a host, whether on the Internet or a Local Area Network (LAN). 2) The provision of a computer to house a web server for one or several web sites.

Hub: A common connection point for computers or other devices in a network, usually a Local Area Network (LAN). There are several different types of hubs, many of which also perform switching and routing functions.

Hunting Service see Rollover Service.

Hypertext: A method for organizing and referencing information by associations and links. The creation of hypertext with its ability to instantaneously reference additional documents by "pointing and clicking" on a hypertext link ultimately made the worldwide web a viable enterprise.


ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier) ILECs are telephone companies that were already providing local telephone service at the time the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) - A standard protocol for retrieving e-mail from a local server. Unlike Post Office Protocol (POP), IMAP requires a constant connection to the e-mail server. IMAP does not forward e-mails directly to your e-mail inbox, as POP does. Instead, it allows you to house all e-mails on a server and retrieve them as desired.

IP (Internet Protocol) - A standard method by which data is sent from one computer to another. Each host computer on the Internet has one or more unique IP addresses used to distinguish it from any other computer. IP is used to transmit and receive data from the requested site through a series of gateway computers and routers that are responsible for locating specific IP addresses. IP is most often coupled with another protocol, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) which actually assigns the packets of data that IP then routes to a destination.

IP Telephony: An umbrella term to describe the use of Internet Protocol (IP) and packet-switching to provide voice, fax, and other services that once were solely accessible through circuit-switched networks such as a PBX or the phone company. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) - An international standard for digital transmissions over standard copper wiring. ISDN is delivered in 2 forms, Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI). BRI provides 2 digital lines (called B-channels) of 64 Kbps each, or 128 Kbps total, for a home or small business. PRI consists of 23 B-channel lines. Both BRI and PRI include a smaller D-channel (12 Kbps for BRI, 64 Kbps for PRI) that carries control and signaling information, but does not increase download speeds. ISDN is growing less common and has generally been supplanted by Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) - A service company that provides individual end-users or enterprises access to the Internet and worldwide web.

IVR: A software application that permits callers to interact with an enterprise telephone system or an automated information database. An IVR presents callers with verbal options that are responded to by touch-tone telephone or voice commands. Common applications are airline booking and flight information lines, banking and other financial services, and call center phone systems.

IXC (IntereXchange Carrier) - IXC is another term used to describe long-distance carriers such as MCI and AT&T.

In-use light: (See also, busy indicator or busy light.) This accessory makes it very easy for people to tell when you're on a call-even when you're using a discreet headset. It lights up, so they can see at a glance that you're busy. It's a simple way to prevent interruptions, and it's helpful for the folks who monitor group phone activity. The indicator works whenever you're on the phone, with or without a headset.

Internet: The Internet is most easily defined as a worldwide system of computer networks. Internet users obtain information from computers on various networks or communicate with other users on the network. The most commonly used segment of the Internet is the worldwide web.

Internet Telephony: A use of the Internet to complete voice communications. Internet telephony allows users to establish voice communications from their Internet connection to a telephone or another computer user. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one example of Internet telephony. Microsoft’s Telephone Application Protocol Interface (TAPI) is another.

Intranet: An internal private network usually owned by a business or other organization. Intranets are differentiated from other private networks by their use of the TCP/IP and hypertext protocols pioneered by the Internet. Like the Internet, an Intranet is designed as a means to easily share resources.

i-Mode: A wireless application protocol that is primarily used in Japan, i-Mode is based on a simplified version of HTML, permitting web browsing and other web-related functionality on a wireless device. The main competing standard is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).

Jack: In physical wiring connections, a jack is the socket that accepts a matching, fitted plug. The jack-and-plug connection is used in telecommunications and networking applications (see Registered Jack), with stereo and electronics equipment, and with electrical wire connections.


KSU (Key Service Unit) - The control switch of a business phone system that provides features such as call transfer, call routing, intercom, conferencing, and others.

KSU-less Phones: A KSU-less system uses telephones with built-in electronics for performing features similar to a KSU. A KSU-less system will require loop or series wiring topology in order to perform its various features.

KTS see KSU. Kilobit (Kb) - 1) In terms of data transfer, one kilobit per second (Kbps) refers to 1,000 bits of information transferred per second. A 56 Kbps (or, in standard usage, 56 K) modem then, is theoretically capable of handling up to 56,000 bits of data per second. 2) In relation to data storage, one kilobit is exactly equal to 1,024 bits of stored data.

Kilohertz (KHz) - In radio frequency (RF) transmissions, KHz (sometimes kHz) is used to describe 1,000 cycles per second, or 1,000 Hertz.


LAN (Local Area Network) - An electronic information network supported by a single resource or server designed to share information with a local group of users.

LATA (Local Access and Transfer Area) - In the United States, a geographic area covered by one or more local telephone companies.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) - The display commonly found on digital watches, calculators, telephones, and laptop computers. Older LCDs provided only grayscale images, but newer LCDs offer full color and graphics through a new LCD technology called Active Matrix.

LEC ( Local Exchange Carrier) - A public telephone company in the United States that provides local service.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) - The small light on electronic devices indicating current state, such as On or Charging. LEDs are usually of one color and rarely offer more than three states: On, Off, or Flashing (intermittent On).

Land Line: The term ‘land line’ refers to a standard telephone connection provided by the local telephone company. Land line has become a much-used colloquialism ever since the advent and explosive growth of mobile telephones.

Lanyard A cord, usually worn around the neck, commonly used to attach and carry small items such as lightweight headsets and speaker mics.

Least Cost Routing: A feature offered by some telephone systems that examines the day, time, and call destination and compares it to a chart of set long-distance carrier rates. As the name implies, the least expensive option is chosen.

Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) Battery - A type of rechargeable battery providing roughly twice the capacity of the more common NiCd battery, but characterized by a shorter service life than a NiCd or NiMH battery. Li-Ion batteries are the lightest in weight of all rechargeable batteries.

Lifter: A headset accessory that takes your phone's handset off-hook, so you have access to the telephone line to place or answer calls. Some lifters-such as the Touch-N-Talk-function manually when you press a lever. Others-such as GN Netcom ReadiLine-operate automatically when you activate your headset.

Loop Wiring (also Series or Ring Wiring) - A wiring topology that connects one phone to the next in sequence. Loop topology differs from other topologies in that the series ends where it begins, completing a circuit.


MP3 (MPEG-1 audio layer-3) A standard created by the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) that compresses audio files by about one-twelfth of the original file size, making MP3 files more easily accessible over the Internet and reducing the memory required to store files. To reduce the size of files, MP3 uses an algorithm that eliminates sounds that are not ordinarily perceived by the human ear. MP3 is a controversial technology. Record companies and recording artists argue that the ease with which MP3 files are stored and shared encourages the violation of copyrights.

MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group) MPEG is an organization that creates standards for digital compression of audio and video. The collection of MPEG standards is constantly evolving. Perhaps the best-known, and most controversial, of MPEG formats is MP3 (MPEG-1 audio layer-3), which is used to record and store music files.

MTSO (Mobile Telephone Switching Office) - Similar to a Central Office (CO), an MTSO provides switching services to wireless telephones.

Megabit (Mb) - 1) In terms of data transfer, one megabit per second (Mbps) refers to 1,000,000 bits of information transferred per second. 2) In relation to data storage, one megabit is exactly equal to 1,048,576 bits of stored data.

Megahertz (MHz): 1) In radio frequency (RF) transmissions, MHz is used to describe 1,000,000 cycles per second, or 1,000,000 Hertz. 2) In computing contexts, MHz describes 1,000,000 oscillations per second of the computer's processor.

Mic boom: This component of a headset extends forward from the earpiece to position the microphone near your mouth. Many booms are set on a pivot mount, so they can be rotated down when you're talking on the phone, and back up, out of the way when you're not. Several different types of booms are used on today's headsets. A fixed boom is rod-like, solid and stationary. A telescoping boom slides out for use, and back into itself for compact storage, much like a radio antenna. A flexible boom can be twisted and bent to position the microphone precisely. A good-quality flexible boom will hold its position over time.

Microsite: A small web site, usually hosted on a larger site’s server, that has a different address (or URL) from the site’s home page and is generally related to, but not part of, the primary site. Microsites (also called minisites) are the form frequently taken by online promotions, marketing partnerships or special interests related to a primary web site.

Modem (Modulator/Demodulator) - Originally, a device that converted (modulated) the "1" and "0" values of a binary signal into a signal that could be carried by an analog telephone network. At the other end, a different modem converted (demodulated) the analog signal back into digital. The term "modem" is now used to describe the appliance that provides a computer with a connection to the Internet.

Monaural A headset that is configured with 1 speaker, and designed to be worn on either the right or left ear. This design permits interaction between the headset user and other people in the vicinity, while the user is simultaneously engaged in a phone conversation.

Multimedia The integration of several different types of media—text, graphics, animation, audio, or video—into a single presentation. A computer’s ability to handle all of these different forms of media makes it a true multimedia device. Single-medium formats include print, photography, and radio.

Multiplexing A method for sending multiple signals using a single pathway, whether in a wired medium, such as packet-switched data transmission, or in wireless communications. There are several techniques used to share bandwidth resources. The most common are Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in wireless phones, Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) for data transmission, and Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM) in analog systems.

Music-on-Hold A system that provides music, advertisement, or other audible information to callers when they are placed on hold.


Network In telecommunications contexts, a network is a series of connected voice, data, or media devices. This applies to all forms of networks, from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to the Local Area Network (LAN), the Wide Area Network (WAN), cable TV, and wireless telephones. While the mediums, capabilities, and intentions of these networks may vary, the purpose of connecting the various end points remains the same. Networks are the basis of virtually all modern telecommunications.

Network Interface Any device that permits connection to an external network. In telephony, a network interface is generally a locked box on the exterior of a residence in which connections may be established to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). In the context of a Local Area Network (LAN), a network interface is generally a device, such as a gateway, that serves as an interface to the external network for all devices on the LAN.

NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) Battery - The predominant standard among the several rechargeable battery types. NiCd batteries are used to supply power to cellular and cordless phones, portable computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other small battery-powered devices.

NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) Battery - A type of rechargeable battery. NiMH batteries provide greater storage capacity and longer service life than the more common NiCd batteries.

Noise Cancellation A function of some headset microphones that suppresses background noise for clearer voice transmission.


SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A version of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), SDSL provides identical upload and download speeds to and from the Internet. SDSL is typically used by enterprises that transmit data in both directions, usually between multiple sites.

SIM Card (Subscriber Identity Module) A SIM card is used in GSM mobile phones to identify the user for billing and other services.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) - The prevalent protocol for the transmission of e-mail on a TCP/IP network. SMTP cannot deliver e-mail directly to an inbox, so it is relied upon only to deliver e-mail to a server. A version of Post Office Protocol (POP) generally handles retrieving e-mail from a server.

SOHO (Small Office Home Office) - A term used to characterize a business run from one’s home, or any business environment with relatively few employees.

Serial A form of data processing that handles data one bit at a time, in a series. Serial processing is common to many computer peripheral devices such as keyboards and mice. Serial processing contrasts with parallel processing, which describes multiple processes happening simultaneously.

Server A server is a computer program that provides on-demand resources to other computers. Also, the term server is used to describe the computer that houses the server program.

Signal compression A technique for transmitting signals in a format that requires less bandwidth than usual.

Slamming: The practice of switching long-distance carriers without a customer’s permission or knowledge. This frequently occurs during promotional giveaways in which the fine print contains the only mention of the long-distance provider change, or in other service agreements that may or may not be directly related to long-distance service.

Sound Card A computer peripheral device for audio input and output. Sound cards contain the software necessary for audio processing and at least 2 jacks, one for a speaker output and the other for microphone input.

Sound Tube Technology Unique, patented headset technology that channels your voice through a slender metal tube to the headset’s microphone.

Speakerphone A telephone that uses a loudspeaker and an external microphone in addition to, or instead of, a traditional telephone handset. Speakerphones are excellent for simple hands-free conversations by an individual user. More advanced speakerphones, called teleconferencers, may be simultaneously used by dozens of people.

Speech Recognition A software application that understands speech as a means of data input, executes verbal commands, or converts speech into text. Most speech recognition programs are able to understand a limited vocabulary and must be 'trained' over a period of time for uncommon terms, phrases, the user’s accent, and vocal inflection. In time, speech recognition is expected to become a much more common computer interface, gradually replacing manual methods (keyboard, mouse, etc.).

Spread Spectrum A radio technology that sends radio signals over multiple channels, changing the transmission and receipt frequency at programmed intervals. This type of spread spectrum is known as frequency-hopping spread spectrum and is the prevalent method used in cordless telephones.

Streaming: The real-time transmission of sound, data, or video on the Internet. Streaming media is sent as a steady, compressed stream of data that is played as it is received. Streaming media is becoming increasingly useful as a means of obtaining sound and video without time-consuming downloads, and for point-to-point video conferencing.

Stutter Dial tone: A service provided by many phone companies that lets the user know when a message has been left in voice mail. The broken (stutter) tone is heard when you first pick up the handset, and usually lasts for a few seconds before the standard dialtone is restored.

Switch A network device that determines the pathways for a given signal or for data. 1) In telephony, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) provides circuit switching based on the data provided by the telephone number dialed and keeps a dedicated connection on that call for the duration of the transmission. 2) IP-based transmissions use packet switching. This type of switch sends small data packets to their destination over numerous pathways, where they are reassembled.


T-Carrier A digital medium originally introduced to expand the capabilities of the Bell networks’ analog telephone network. T1 lines are very commonly leased to Internet service providers (ISPs) or to businesses because of their capacity of 1.544 Mbps (the equivalent of 24 standard phone lines). T2 lines are capable of carrying 6.312 Mbps (96 standard lines) and T3, 44.736 Mbps (672 lines). Many small enterprises that do not require the full capacity of a T1 are able to lease partial T1 connections to suit their business needs.

T1 (also see T-Carrier) - A digital phone line used to carry the capacity of 24 standard telephone lines. Since it is digital and serves numerous analog applications, a T1 line employs a version of Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) and Time Division Multiplexing (TDM).

TAD (Telephone Answering Device) - Another term that describes an answering machine. A TAD may be tape-driven or, more commonly, driven by a digital chip.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) - The underlying protocol for the Internet. There are 2 layers to the protocol: TCP, which separates data into packets for transmission; and IP, which locates and directs the packets to their destination, or IP address. Once received, packets are reassembled by TCP. TCP/IP is used with other protocols on the Internet, such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) - A form of multiplexing used in wireless communications that divides a radio signal into separate time slots so that multiple signals may be sent on the same frequency. The time divisions are very small, and inaudible to users.

TTY/TDD (TeleTYpewriter/Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) - Solutions provided to assist hearing- or speech-impaired users to communicate on a voice telecommunications network. TTY/TDD solutions require a teletype display. The TTY user types in his or her message to a live operator who vocally relays the typed message to the person being called. Vocal responses are typed by the relay operator and sent back to the original person on the TTY device.

Telecommunications A general term used to describe any form of data transmission over a medium. Telecommunications (or telecom) includes voice, video, and text over the media of copper wire, radio frequency, cable or optical networks.

Telecommute: The use of telecommunications to permit employees to work from outside the office, usually at home. The term 'telework' is now used as often to describe remote working.

Teleconferencing: includes any technology that allows multiple users to conference simultaneously using a telephone or network connection. Teleconferencing encompasses voice, video, and data sharing.

Telephony A term used to describe the technologies of transmitting voice over electronic media. Telephony is a subset of telecommunications.

Telnet: The TCP/IP standard that permits users outside a private network to access the network as if they were directly connected to it, treating the remote user as a virtual terminal.

Traffic In telecommunications contexts, the total amount of data being moved on a network in a given time period.

Transmission Sending: a signal by wire or radio.

Triplex Adapter A jack accessory that provides 3 ports: 1 port to connect line 1 or line 2 individually, and a third port that supports both lines.

Trunk Line A communication line between 2 switching systems. For example, the communications channel between the Central Office (CO) and a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) switch, or the channel between a Local Area Network (LAN) and a T1 carrier line.

Twisted-Pair Cable Twisted-pair cable consists of at least 1 pair of copper wires. In order to reduce the occurrence of external interference, the copper wires are insulated and wound around each other. Twisted-pair cables are used for home connections to the Telephone Company (voice and data) as well as for many Local Area Network (LAN) connections as a low-cost alternative to coaxial or fiber-optic cable.


UHF (Ultra High Frequency) - A range in the radio spectrum that covers the frequencies between 300 MHz (megahertz) and 3 GHz (3 gigahertz or 3000 MHz). UHF is currently applied to television, cellular telephony, 2-way radios, satellite communications, and paging services.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) - The address of a file (resource) available on the Internet. A URL always identifies the protocol (HTTP, FTP) and the IP address of the requested resource. USB (Universal Serial Bus) - A plug and jack standard that significantly simplifies the installation of computer peripheral devices. USB supports up to 12 Mbps data transmission, so it is suitable for virtually all peripheral devices (mouse, keyboard, game controllers, printers, scanners, etc.). USB is expected to become the de facto standard for peripheral devices.

Unified Messaging Unified messaging provides a single mailbox to handle e-mail, fax, and voice messages. Users can check e-mail over the phone (a computer-generated voice reads the message to you) or voice messages by e-mail (in the form of audio attachments). Faxes can be printed from a PC.

V.35 The most common network interface standard approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The V.35 standard provides direct interoperability between digital voice and data lines on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and an onsite digital voice and data network.

VOX: This is a symbol for voice-activated operation. On 2-way radios, a VOX setting eliminates the need to press a push-to-talk button in order to transmit. Similarly, on digital or tape recorders, the VOX setting activates the recorder whenever sound above a certain threshold is sensed. VPN (Virtual Private Network) - A private, secure network that uses public infrastructure to connect users over a wide area. A VPN remains secure through a combination of encryption, authorizations, and other security measures.

Videoconferencing: A subset of teleconferencing that includes a video element. Videoconferencing has transitioned from relatively crude frame-by-frame video to fluid, real-time transmission. The more realistic videoconferencing systems require T1, DSL, cable, or another high-speed, large-bandwidth medium.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) - A software/hardware combination that uses the packet-switching methods of the Internet and other digital data communications to establish voice communications. Because the call is carried on the Internet, VoIP does not incur long-distance toll charges.

Voice Mail A service provided by the Telephone Company that records and saves messages left by your callers when you do not answer.


WAN (Wide Area Network) - A computer network that covers a dispersed geographical area. Because of the physical distance between users, a WAN frequently makes use of public infrastructure to connect the various end points (nodes).

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) - An attempt at an industry standard for wireless data communication. WAP is currently used in the United States for a number of wireless data devices, but it is just one of several competing standards.

WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) A local telecommunications network that uses high-frequency radio waves instead of wired connections as the channel between devices.

WML (Wireless Markup Language) A language developed for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) that provides text versions of web sites to wireless devices such as mobile telephones and PDAs.

Wav: The file name extension given to Wave audio files. This standard PC audio file format is used for everything from system and game sounds to CD-quality audio.

Wi-Fi: (Wireless Fidelity) Another name for the IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN standard.

Wireless 1) A term used to describe cellular phones, wireless modems, and other devices that operate on radio frequency (RF). 2) The general term used for all onsite RF communications and networking, whether based on data, voice, or multimedia.

Wireless Amplifier A cordless amplifier that transmits and receives radio signals to its base unit, which is connected to your phone. Unlike a conventional headset amplifier (which remains stationary on your desk), you attach a wireless amplifier to your clothing to carry along with you. It's not a completely cordless headset system, as you need a corded headset to plug into the wireless amplifier.

Y-cable A cable characterized by 1 connection to an input jack that accommodates 2 output jacks, resembling the letter "Y" when extended. A Y-cable is often referred to as a "splitter." Y-cables for headsets come in 2 varieties: conferencing cables that allow both users to hear and speak over their headsets, and training (observation) cables that permit both users to listen, but only one to speak.

2.4 GHz This is the newer spectrum of wireless frequencies that is used by wireless devices including cordless phones, headsets, and networking products. Devices that rely on 2.4 GHz technology typically experience less interference than those that make use of other frequencies. This technology also supports much higher data transfer rates.

802.11 802.11 is a group of standards created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). The version most common today is 802.11b—also known as Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi). It uses 2.4 GHz wireless signaling and provides up to 11 Mbps transmission.

900 MHz: This is the frequency band traditionally used in cordless telephones. It enables signals to penetrate walls and other physical barriers more easily than the lower frequencies that were used in earlier cordless phones.


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