VoIP Terms You Should Know

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With growing adoption rates around the world, VoIP technologies have become the most promising telephony solutions for both personal and business contexts. These are the most common VoIP terms to know about.


ATA stands for Analog Telephone Adapter. This device converts analogue voice signals into digital voice signals so they can be sent over the Internet. By using an ATA, users can connect a PTSN phone network to a VoIP service.

Audio menu

Audio menus are voice-based menus that guide callers through a set of options. Audio menus are commonly used in features such as auto attendants, interactive voice response, and fax-on-demand.

Call hunting

Call hunting is a VoIP feature that allows calls to be rolled past busy signals and try different numbers until the call is picked up.


The client (or softphone client) refers to any software installed in the computer to allow the user to make calls over the Internet.

Cloud communications

Cloud communications in the VoIP context refers to the way that VoIP users use the Internet to connect to host equipment locate on another site, which in turns allows users to connect to other users (make and receive calls).

Conference bridge

Conference bridges are devices that allow multiple users to connect to the same call. Conference bridges are can be stand-alone devices or be inbuilt features for PBX (Private Branch Exchange) systems.


CPE refers to customer premises equipment that located at the user’s site. The CPE is the hardware that converts digital signals to voice, and vice versa, so that VoIP calls can be made.


Delay results when packets of voice data take longer than usual to arrive. Delay can have a disruptive effect on calls.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

DSL technology is a type of technology that allows broadband Internet digital connections to be sent over copper phone lines, while allowing simultaneous analogue signals to be carried over the same line. DSL services are used to connect CPEs through existing copper phone lines.


Enhanced 911 or E911 is a version of the US 911 emergency service. This service is offered by conventional phone companies, and is included with VoIP services in the US.


Find-me/follow-me is a useful VoIP feature that allows callers to reach you wherever you may be located. It allows callers to ring multiple phones, including your home phone, work phone, and mobile phone at the same time.

Gateway in VoIP systems

Gateway in VoIP systems are network devices that in real time, automatically convert voice calls from a public switched telephone work (PSTN) to an IP network.

Interactive voice response

Interactive voice response (IVR) allows computer-based information to be accessed over the phone, through the phone rather than a computer. Applications include the translations of touch-tone selections by callers or voice commands used by users to select menu items.

Internet telephony

Internet telephony is a general term that refers to the transmission of voice signals over the internet. Internet-telephony systems typically include PCs with client software, an Internet connection, and similar equipment on the other connection.


Jitter is a term used to describe temporary fluctuations in the VoIP transmission signal, and jitters are typically used by slow data packets.


Kbps stands for kilobits per second, and it describes the speed of data transfer. 300 kbps means a connection can transfer 300,000 bits per second.


Packet refers to grouped units of data, and any packet will include the actual payload (the core information to be sent), as well as originator, destination, and synchronising information. Packets are designed to be sent along most optimal routes. They are assembled and re-assembled as they are sent and as they arrive.

Packet switching

Packet switching is a way of sending data over multiple network channels. It works by breaking down the data into packets of information and sending it over the network before re-assembling the information. Packet switching allows data to be send out of order before being rearranged upon arrival.


PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange (also known as Private Branch Automatic Exchange or PBAX), which refers to any telephone exchange that serves an organisation or site by performing concentration of central office lines or trunks.


PSTN stands for public switched telephone network, which refers to the combination of local and international carriers that form the global phone network. Today the PSTN is almost entirely digitised.


SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, which is a specific type of protocol for controlling multimedia communication sessions sent over the internet. Most VoIP phones use the SIP.

Store and forward

Store and forward is a function that allows users to store or transmit a message for delayed playback and transmission. Any non-instant messaging system uses the store and forward procedure.

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