Overwhelmed Business Woman Trying to Understand VoIP With Post It Notes on a Board in Front of Her

The VoIP world can be difficult to get a grasp on if you haven’t been properly introduced. We get it. There is a lot to understand and, if it’s your company, you probably want to understand it well. Luckily for you, VoiceSpring wrote this nifty glossary to help you get up to speed. Let’s dig in!

Understanding Acronyms

ATA – Analog Telephone Adapter

An accessory which creates a bridge between POTS and VoIP by connecting a traditional phone to an IP network. An ATA is ideal for integrating an on premise device, such as a fax, alarm, elevator, or credit card machine, into a VoIP network.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

A policy which allows a business to use a PBX system that has not been supplied by the ITSP.

DID – Direct Inward Dialing

A block of virtual phone numbers or extensions used to dial a PBX system.

DoS – Denial of Service

A disruption which prevents a user from accessing the internet.

FCC – Federal Communications Commission

Established by the Communications Act of 1934, this independent bureau is responsible for regulating US communications, on both domestic and international levels.

ISP – Internet Service Provider

A company that provides internet access.

ITSP – Internet Telephony Service Provider

A company that provides VoIP phone service.

LAN – Local Area Network

An IP network that covers a small, limited space. The size could range anywhere from a single room or suite, to an entire office building or complex, depending on how it is setup.

PBX – Private Branch Exchange

A business phone system that uses local phone lines to route calls to and from users.

PoE – Power over Ethernet

A power source that uses a network cable to send electricity to remote devices through the ethernet.

POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service

Analog phone service which sends voice data over copper wires. Also known as landlines.

PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

The traditional phone network. PSTN uses circuit switching to make landline calls.

QoS – Quality of Service

Rules and devices used to manage initial resource allocation on a network, so the ITSP can monitor and minimize latency, jitter, and packet loss.

SIP – Session Initiation Protocol

Rules used to connect VoIP endpoints and move voice data between them, over the internet.

VoIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol

VoIP is a broad term which encompasses the group of standards used to connect and transmit voice calls over the internet. Also known as IP telephony.

WAN – Wide Area Network

An IP network that covers a large space or geographical region. These networks can link offices in different cities, states and, in some cases, countries. WANs can also connect LANs.

Making Sense of Industry Lingo


The amount of data your network is able to handle at the same time. Your bandwidth measurement indicates your network’s speed, which can be used to gauge its limits, as well as VoIP compatibility.

Cloud Based

A VoIP solution where cloud data centers the PBX system and servers. Cloud based business phone systems can greatly reduce your initial investment, as well as the amount of equipment on site, if any.

For more info on this topic, we suggest reading Wikipedia’s article on cloud communications.


The technology which is used to compress voice data prior to transfer, so it can travel faster and transmit voice data in real time. The quality of your voice codec has an impact on Quality of Service.


Contrary to what you may think at first, the “e” stands for “enhanced.” It provides emergency support for VoIP end users.


Fax machines do not mesh well with VoIP. When it comes down to it, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. eFax allows you to send and receive faxes via email, instead of using ancient equipment. Most importantly, eFax is compatible with your VoIP system.

End of Life

Discontinued manufacturing and support of a product or service. Vendors often send a notice of intent which includes the official end of life date and how to take action to replace or upgrade a system.


Priority equipment or software used to secure a network, set aside a portion of bandwidth, or both.


Solutions which make it possible for a company to lease equipment and service instead of buying a PBX system outright, as is done with premise based systems.


Hybrid PBX systems unite a legacy PBX with VoIP, using an ATA. These setups are often used as a stepping stone when a business needs to use equipment that is not compatible with VoIP, but still wants to save money on their phone service.


A symptom of bandwidth overload which causes a phone to cut in and out. Jitter is caused by a disparity in voice data transport, due to too much, or even too little, traffic on the network.


How long it takes for a voice data transfer to happen. A slow connection is synonymous with higher measurements of latency, also known as lag.


A VoIP solution where a user is able to log in to the PBX to manipulate settings and functions. Managed service providers offer to manage your system for you, which can save your IT team a lot of time and resources, thereby saving your company money in the long run.

Packet Loss

When data is lost due to an incomplete transfer of “packets,” or compressed data. This is most often caused by an increase in network traffic which exceeds the available bandwidth. Sometimes, when the network reaches what is known as a “jitter buffer,” it opts to discard some packets to prevent latency and jitter.


A signal used to measure the amount of time it takes to transfer data from one network to another. Pings are helpful for troubleshooting Quality of Service issues. Often the first action a support agent takes, pings answer the infamous question: “Is this thing on?”

Premise Based

PBX solutions which require a company to buy and install hardware in order to manage their system on site. Also known as On Premise.


Programming a network or PBX system to accept service and behave in certain ways.


A dedicated phone number, or extension, which allows you to route calls to a specific line on a PBX system.

Static IP

Permanent internet address which uses the same numbers all the time, as opposed to a dynamic IP.


A device which connects voice calls between lines on a VoIP phone system by means of “packet switching.”

A Feature by Any Other Name

Auto Attendant

Also known as Virtual Receptionist or Phone Tree

Provides a “map” for caller’s to choose their destination, such a department or individual. For example, auto attendant may give you an option to “press 1 for support.” Then, the auto attendant assigns a predefined destination.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

After a caller makes a selection using auto attendant or IVR, ACD routes the call to the correct call group or extension.

Barge In

Also known as Call Barge

Allows a user, such as a manager or supervisor, to join or take over a live phone call by turning it into a 3-way conference.

Find Me, Follow Me

Call routing tools that allow you to receive calls wherever you are. These settings are used to forward calls and ring multiple phones at the same time or in sequence.

Ring Anywhere

Assigns one phone number to multiple devices. With this technology, a user could receive a call on their cell phone, desk phone, and soft phone at the same time.

Ring Groups

A set of phone numbers which is configured to handle incoming calls by ringing the whole group at once or by routing the call to each available extension in the group until the call is picked up. Keep in mind, this is not the same as a call queue.

Call Queueing

Commonly used in call centers, this setting continuously sends the each call in the queue to the next open line on the system.

Hot Desking

Allows a user to load their account, profile and settings onto a new phone simply by logging in. This makes it very easy to move desks or offices within a company.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Gives callers the ability to “speak” to the system, as opposed to manual entry used with the standard auto attendant. IVR can be configured to answer “yes” or “no” questions and execute tasks based on the caller’s response. Depending on its ability to recognize voice and natural language, an IVR may be able to handle more complex responses as well.

Listen In

Also known as Silent Call Monitoring or Whisper

Allows a user to listen to a live phone call, without the other participants’ knowledge.


Places a call on hold, so it can be picked up on another phone or device.

Presence Indication

Also known as Busy Lamp Field

Uses a symbol or color to show the availability status of other users. Available, busy, away, and do not disturb are the most common.

Virtual Extensions

A unique phone number that forwards to another phone number, or extension.

Well, that’s all we’ve got for now. If you’d like to learn more about VoIP, check out The Business Owner’s Guide to Hosted VoIP Phone Systems. Of course, VoiceSpring is always here to answer your questions as well. Just call (866) 654-1800 or contact us online to get answers from our VoIP experts.