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Business Phone System Glossary Terms


Landline: Landline telephone systems are traditional analog systems involving copper wires or fiber optic cables to transmit signals between speakers. The landline telephone lines (physical cables) are attached to a landline socket within your phone that the transmission travels across.


WiFi: A wireless networking technology that allows wireless devices to connect to the Internet across a high-speed online connectivity. It is also known as wireless fidelity. This is useful in the business telephone networking sense because it opens up the doorway to VoIP services across high-speed networks. A WLAN network can be used to connect WiFi-enabled devices to the Internet and share data within the network.


WLAN: Also known as wireless local area network, this is a network that uses WiFi technology to link devices together across the network and allow them to connect to a wider network of the Internet (across high-speed connectivity). WLAN and Wifi are often terms that get confused and they are related. The WLAN is the network while Wifi is the signal that the devices connect to across the network. A common standard for modern WLAN networks is IEEE 802.11. WLANS use hardware to connect to an access point such as a router and a wireless network adapter.


LAN: A LAN, or local area network, is a network that connects computers within a limited area to a single local network. This is useful in a small-scale setting such as an office or school because it allows computers and other office equipment to share data within the network and keep unwanted guests out. A LAN allows employees, for instance, to work together on a project without necessarily having to connect to the wider Internet in order to share files. You can send e-mails with only users within a LAN network, for instance, using a internal e-mail server.


VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol is a telecommunication technology involving the use of online connectivity to transfer information and allow communications among users or businesses. Unlike traditional landlines, VoIP phone services allow communication to occur with voice, text messaging, or video conferencing tools. Examples of popular VoIP software include Skype or Apple’s Facetime. There are also more business-oriented phone VoIP phones (plug-and-play certified) available that come with software or tools to take advantage of VoIP without much or any additional on-site hardware.


IP Phones: These are specialized phones that allow businesses to take advantage of VoIP and digital communication. The communication using these phones is done across the Internet rather than landlines. IP phones often are designed for the purpose of IP communications although look like ordinary landline phones. There is also a term, called a softphone, that refers to specialized software being installed on WiFi-ready devices turning them into a IP phones. IP phones can connect using either USB (United Serial Bus) or PoE (Power Over Ethernet) ports.


Dialup: Dialup refers to an Internet connection that allows machines to connect online with a dial-up phone line instead of a high-speed ethernet or WiFi connection. Dialup speeds evolved over the years to reach 56k modem speeds, however they are mostly being phased out today in favor of high-speed Internet connections such as cable and DSL. Although it is worth noting that there exist newer compression technologies that allow the 56k modem to transmit information faster than the rate implies. If you own only one landline in your office or home set-up, you will  not be able to answer or use your landline phone to receive and place calls while connecting to the Internet simultaneously.


PBX: A Private Branch Exchange is a private telephone network that enterprises or businesses can use for their telecommunication needs. Users connected to a PBX can share a limited amount of outside lines for making telephone calls outside of the PBX (like to customers or other businesses). This is an effective way to save costs for mid-sized businesses or enterprises with a lot of users telecommuting because sharing lines reduces the need to install telephone lines to every phone.


UM: Unified Messaging (UM) refers to the combination of various electronic messaging and communications media through a single interface that can be accessed from various devices. The messaging and communications media can include e-mail, paging, personal digital assistance, SMS, fax, voicemail, and video messaging. Often, UM services can be accessed over telephone landlines or across the Internet.


SME: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are businesses that are limited in personnel and size. There are many such smaller enterprises in existence than the huge corporations and enterprises we often hear about today. This means that overall, they employ a larger number of people in the total workforce than the major corporations.


SIP: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an Internet Engineering Task Force standard protocol used for interactive user sessions. These sessions may involve multimedia and communications such as video chat, voice chat, gaming, and virtual reality. It works in the application later of the Open Systems Interconnections (OSI) communications model. It is the layer that makes communication possible.


WISP: Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) are ISPs that focus on wireless technologies and service. When first taking off, the WISP services were generally only found in rural areas not covered by DSL or cable broadband services. Today, WISPS often offer features or services such as location based content, VPN (Virtual Private Networking) and VoIP built-in. They are finding ways to differentiate their services from competing Teleco and cable providers to stand out.


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