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telecom glossary

In the telecom industry, we like to talk in acronyms, mixtures of letters and numbers, high-tech speak and whatever else makes us feel like we’re smarter than we actually are. That sometimes makes it difficult to read through an industry article, product fact sheet or vendor website and get any real information or understanding out of it.

With that in mind, we decided to put together a telecom glossary. We’ll start with a few common terms and expand from there, so keep checking back to learn the new lingo. The list is ever-growing and never-ending, so if you have terms you would like us to define, send them over and we’ll be happy to include them in our telecom glossary.

Bonded T1
Bonded T1s allow you to combine or “bond” multiple T1s together to provide a total throughput of 3 to 12 MBPs of bandwidth. This allows voice and data to be shifted from one T1 to the other in order to not overtaxing one of the T1s bandwidth. It also provides built-in redundancy in the event that one of the T1s fails.
CAS (Channel Associated Signaling)
A form of digital communication signaling that uses routing information encoded and transmitted in the same channel as the payload of voice or data it is directing.
CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier)
A category of phone service providers that offer services similar to the former monopoly local telephone company, as recently allowed by changes in telecommunications law and regulation. A CLEC may also provide other types of telecommunications services (long distance, Internet access, etc.).
Colocation
Hosting mission-critical equipment or applications in a third-party datacenter, saving the company the time and cost of building their own datacenter infrastructure. By sharing resources, colocation gives companies the advantages and security of a large-scale data facility without the high costs.
DS3 (Digital Signal 3, T3 Line)
DS3s, also known as T3 line, are digital transmission links equivalent to 28 T1 lines (44.736 Mbps). DS3s have enough bandwidth to handle very large database transferring and can handle 672 simultaneous voice conversations.
DSL Providers
DSL Providers provide digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) which carry data at high speeds over standard copper telephone wires. With DSL, data can be delivered at a rate of 1.5 Mbps (around 30 times faster than through a 56-kbps modem). DSL providers offer users the ability to receive voice and data simultaneously, so customers can use computers on the Internet without interrupting phone connections
Ethernet Broadband
Ethernet broadband is a protocol that defines how data is transmitted to and received from LAN's. It is the most prevalent LAN protocol, with speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Ethernet over Copper (EoC)
EoC often offers both higher bandwidths and lower prices than conventional T1s. Part of that is due to the efficiency of the technology involved in transmitting higher bandwidths over common copper wiring.
MPLS (multiprotocol label switching)
A technology designed to speed up network traffic and manage flow, in which each packet is given a label that designates its network path. This helps to unclog networks because routers simply pass the packet on, instead of determining a route. MPLS is called multiprotocol because it works with multiple standards.
PBX (private branch exchange)
A telephone switching system that interconnects telephone extensions to each other in-house as well as to the outside telephone network.
ISDN PRI (Primary Rate ISDN)
A high speed 1.544 Mbps circuit that most commonly is channelized into 24 64Kbps channels. The 24th channel on the PRI is utilized for out of band signaling, which enables the delivery of the calling party's telephone number, name, etc when the PRI is used to serve dial tone to a PBX.
SIP Service (session initiation protocol)
A standard protocol for initiating an interactive user session that involves multimedia elements, such as video, voice, chat, gaming and virtual reality
T1 Access
A digital transmission link of 1.544 Mbps. It can be used as a point-to-point circuit to transport information at a high speed, or can be channeled into 24 channels to handle voice conversations. Each of these channels is digitized at 64Kbps.
TDM (time division multiplexing)
Transmits data by breaking the signal down into multiple segments, which are transmitted separately over a single signal. Data then is reconstructed at the receiving end using a method based on the timing of the transmissions.
Trunk
A communications line between two switching systems.
VoIP (voice over Internet protocol)
The technology used to transmit voice conversations over a data network using IP. This is done by digitizing voice into discrete packets that are transferred independently over the network, instead of traditional circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network.
VPN (virtual private network)
A network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet. Encryption is used to protect data, making the network "virtually" private. Companies that want to set up their own private data networks can use the public Internet, instead of leasing lines.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
An Internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.
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