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VoIP and Other Acronyms: What They All Mean

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shutterstock_164411315There’s been a lot written about VoIP and just as with other Internet technologies, a range of acronyms have sprung up to summarise the systems and procedures surrounding it. This article looks at some of the main ones and attempts to explain them in basic layman’s terms.

VoIP

If you don’t know what this means by now, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and it means just that; voice or speech that is transmitted over the Internet.

POTS

This is a tongue-in-cheek acronym for the traditional landline telephone system that has been in use since Alexander Graham Bell. It stands for Plain Old Telephony Services, which are the forerunners of VoIP and will no doubt be replaced by it.

PSTN

This is the slightly more reverent term for the traditional analogue phone network. It stands for Public Switched Telephone Service and encompasses the local, national and international carriers that together comprise our worldwide telephone network.

ISDN

This stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, which is a telephony system that uses the copper wires of the traditional landline network to transmit voice and data.

ATA

This means Analogue Telephony Adapter and is a device that converts sound waves into digital signals, allowing you to access VoIP from an analogue handset.

LAN

This is an acronym for Local Area Network. This is a computer network that encompasses any local area such as a home or office environment.

SIP

Not a small drink, but a Session Initiation Protocol. This is a signalling protocol (standard) that governs the establishment, termination and other important elements of a voice or video call over the Internet.

PBX

This stands for Private Branch Exchange which, as its name suggests, is a telephone switching system that is privately owned and operated by a business. This technology is now being replaced in many businesses by a virtual or hosted PBX.

You might be excused for thinking IT professionals love acronyms for their own sake, but it has to be said they can also be a good way of working out what a device or system actually is or does, which makes them useful.

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