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Glossary - Page 1

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  • Access
    Generally refers to the connection between your business and the public phone network, or between your business and another dedicated location. A large portion of your business phone bill typically consists of monthly recurring charges that cover access costs. Examples of access include individual business lines, digital T-1 connections, or dedicated access lines to long distance companies.
  • Analog
    The original and still prevalent technology used for local telephone telecommunications transmission. Analog signals are direct reproductions of sound waves. Voice conversations, computer data, and video can be sent via analog technology; however, digital technology can be more reliable, particularly at high bandwidths (speeds). The world is rapidly adapting digital as the new standard. Some modern digital phone equipment will not work with analog phone lines.
  • Backbone
    The main connectivity device in a network. All systems that connect to the backbone can connect to each other. This does not prohibit systems from setting up separate arrangements to connect directly with each other, bypassing the backbone, for cost, performance, or security reasons.
  • Bandwidth
    Capacity or volume inherent in every telecommunications line. For example, the standard business data line has a bandwidth capacity of 64 Kbps (kilobits per second), which is more than enough for a clear voice conversation. Higher bandwidths are needed for the transfer of more complicated information such as large amounts of computer data or video. Sometimes companies with high bandwidth demands need dedicated private lines to ensure that the whole bandwidth capacity is available to them at all times. A higher bandwidth rating means that data moves faster.
  • Central Office
    The physical point where your business line is connected by your local phone company to other subscribers. Telecom deregulation mandates that the phone company's central office computers be able to connect your call to customers of any other local phone company and to the long distance network of your choice. The central office is part of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
  • Centrex
    A service offered by your local phone company. Centrex makes "intelligent" features available to any individual business phone, without your company having to buy or maintain additional equipment. Centrex service is like "leasing" PBX (private branch exchange) features from your phone company instead of investing in your own PBX equipment.
  • Channel
    A path of communication, also called a line or circuit. A channel often refers to a single digital communications link within a larger connection such as a T-1.
  • Circuit Switching
    A communications method in which a dedicated path is identified to connect two end points. The telephone system is an example of a circuit-switched network: a link is established, data transferred (the conversation, fax, etc.) and then the link is released.
  • CIR (Committed Information Rate)
    The rate at which a Frame Relay network agrees to transfer information under normal conditions, averaged over a minimum increment of time. One of the most common metrics is to measure performance in bits per second.
  • Combo Trunk
    Also referred to as "Two-Way." A circuit which may be used for either incoming calls to your company or outgoing calls by employees.
  • Copper Wire
    Used for more than 100 years to build telephone networks, copper wire is still the predominant type of wiring used by the local Bell companies to reach homes and businesses. Today, telecommunications companies are building new lines and replacing old ones with fiber optics and other high speed transmission media instead of copper wire.
  • Data
    A generic term referring to any telecommunications transmission other than voice conversation. Examples include computer file transfer, computer networking, Internet access, and video transmission. Data transmissions are greatly enhanced by larger bandwidth connections that supply faster transmission speed.
  • Dedicated Data Service
    Also called "private line" or "leased line." A direct connection between your business and another location, that bypasses the public switched phone network. This service guarantees the entire bandwidth will be available to you at all times and will not be constrained by any "traffic" from the public network. Dedicated data service is available in speeds ranging from 64 kilobits per second (Kbps) to 45 megabits per second (Mbps).
  • Dedicated Internet Access
    Also called "private Internet connection." A dedicated data connection that bypasses the local phone company to connect your business directly to an Internet service provider. Unlike dial up or "shared" Internet service, dedicated private Internet connection can be accessed simultaneously by multiple users within your company's local area network (LAN).
  • Dedicated Long Distance
    A service that allows you to connect your business phone system directly to the long distance company network of your choice. Long distance calls are then routed directly to the long distance carrier, bypassing the local phone company's central office. Monthly access charges are billed for the dedicated connection, but the long distance per-minute rates are typically greatly reduced.
  • Dial-up Access
    A data connection made between two computers through a standard telephone line using a modem. Dial-up access is used by traveling employees to connect them to your company's network or to other services such as the Internet from a remote location. Dial-up connections are typically limited by the speed of the modem or the capacity and quality of the public switched telephone network - often a copper telephone line.
  • Direct Inward Dialing
    Enables the employees of your company to each have their own phone number, and enables the phone system to route incoming calls directly to the employee's phone rather than through a receptionist or automated voice response routing system. The DID line must connect to a PBX (private branch exchange) located on your premise. Typically, a company will share one DID line per 10 employees.
  • Digital
  • A digital telecommunications signal is one which is transmitted using bits of information instead of sound waves. Digital signals can provide a more accurate reproduction than traditional analog sound waves, and digital technology can be used for all the same purposes such as voice conversations, computer data, and video transmission. Many of today's high speed, high quality computer communications are made possible by digital technology. The newest phone networks being built are constructed using 100% digital technology.
  • DOD (direct Outward Dialing)
    Enables your employees to dial a number outside the company without having to go through a receptionist or attendant. Usually done by dialing "9" to access an outside line before dialing the phone number itself. DOD assures the availability of an outside line no matter how heavy the incoming phone traffic. The DOD line must connect to a PBX (private branch exchange) located on the business's premise.
  • DS-0
    The base unit of digital service transmission capacity, equal to 64 kilobits per second (Kpbs). It describes the digital speed for services that use a single dedicated telephone line, for instance a dedicated Internet connection for a small office.
  • DS-1
    Also referred to as a T-1. DS-1 service transmits information at the rate of approximately 1.5 Mbps (megabits per second), enough for services that use a single dedicated telephone line, for instance a dedicated Internet connection for a small office.
  • DS-3
    Also called a T-3. DS-3 service transmits information at the rate of approximately 45 megabits per second (Mbps), which is the equivalent of about 28 DS-1 or T-1s, or 672 simultaneous voice conversations over the line. That's enough capacity or bandwidth to meet the communications needs of heavy telecom users such as huge corporations, universities, and hospitals. The right phone equipment, such as a digital PBX (private branch exchange), must be owned to utilize the DS-3.
  • Encryption
    Application of a specific algorithm to data so as to alter the appearance of the data making it incomprehensible to those who are not authorized to see the information.
  • Extranet
    A Web site that is accessible to authorized outsiders. An extranet provides various level of accessibility to outsiders (i.e. customers, vendors, etc.). You can access the extranet, typically if you have a valid user-name and password. In addition, your identity may determine which parts of the extranet you can view.
  • Fiber Optics
    A means of transmitting digital information over a glass strand or "fiber." Laser light pulses are sent over the glass strands in the form of digital signals (0s and 1s). Though only as thick as a human hair, each fiber optic strand has far greater capacity, or bandwidth, to carry information than copper wire.
  • Firewall
    A gateway between two networks that buffers and screens traffic that attempts to pass between the two networks.
  • Fractional T-1
    Businesses that want all of the features of a T-1 connection but do not need all the bandwidth a full T-1 supplies can sometimes arrange to lease a "fractional" T-1 from the phone company. The business then uses as much of the T-1's capacity as it needs and pays less than the cost of a full T-1 connection. Typically, any portion of the T-1 can be leased as a fractional T-1 and the phone company may lease the remaining capacity to another tenant in the same building.
  • Frame Relay
    High-speed data transfer using a shared digital network. Frame relay is provided by your phone company via data lines that are physically separate from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) that transmits voice conversations. Frame relay is cheaper than a dedicated data line because it is shared. An important benefit of frame relay is its "inherent redundancy", which means there is no single point of failure in the transmission because the data can be sent via multiple paths. Frame relay is particularly appropriate for Internet connections or other data transfer between computers.
  • FX (Foreign Exchange)
    A service that allows your business to have its dial tones supplied by a remote location. Often bought to preserve an existing phone number after a move or to use a phone number associated with another location (for example, a business close to, but not in, New York City might use FX service to have a New York telephone number to give the impression of being in the city).
  • Home Region Call
    A call placed within the local service area of a particular phone company. Generally transmitted without toll charges. IntraLATA.
  • Hybrid System
    A phone system that combines many of the features of a Key phone system and a PBX (private branch exchange) phone system. Not every incoming line appears on every phone, as in most Key systems, but the hybrid system can accommodate both Key and PBX phones.
  • Inbound
    Service that handles incoming calls (calls placed to a business) but not outgoing calls (calls made from the business). Generally this means toll-free 800 service (receiver pays) but can also refer to 700 and 900 services (callers pay). Customer service, catalog sales, insurance claims, technical support, and reservations are a few applications for inbound service.
  • InterLATA
    Communication between Local Access Transport Areas (LATAs), generally known as a "long distance call." For instance, a call you make to a location outside the calling area or LATA served by your local phone carrier. (see also LATA)
  • Internet
    A global network connecting government, educational, private, and commercial networks. The Internet can be accessed by a computer, regardless of the computer's standards and protocols, and it provides access to any other computer logged onto its network.
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP)
    A company that provides dedicated or dial up access to the Inter, either directly or indirectly to the Internet backbone. Generally, ISPs offer different types of service, suited for everything from small business and home use to specialized needs of larger companies, at varying price levels.
  • Interstate
    Between or among states. In telecommunications, this refers to a call placed outside the call originator's state. Interstate communications are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • IntraLATA
    Communication within a Local Access Transport Area (LATA). For instance, a call you make within the local service area of your local phone carrier. (see also LATA)
  • Intranet
    A network based on Internet protocols belonging to an organization, usually a corporation, accessible only by the organization's members, employees, or others with authorization. An intranet's Web site looks and acts like any other Web site, but the access security surrounding an intranet fends off unauthorized usage. Intranets are used to share information.
  • Intrastate
    In telecommunications, this refers to a call placed within state's boundaries. Intrastate communications are regulated by each state's public utility commission.
  • ISDN
    Integrated Services Digital Network is a dial up technology that digitally enhances regular telephone lines to provide users much faster data connections. It is slightly less expensive than a fractional T-1, but ISDN is not scalable to a business' needs in terms of bandwidth. ISDN can be ideal for the home office environment or Internet connectivity.
  • Inward Trunks
    Circuits dedicated to incoming calls only. Companies that want to ensure their customers can always reach them dedicate a fixed number of circuits as inward trunks.
  • Key System
    A telephone equipment system in which the phones have several line buttons that can access outgoing or incoming calls directly to or from the local phone company's central office. Unlike a PBX (private branch exchange) system where your employees must dial "9" to get an outside line, Key System users can access outside lines directly from their set of line buttons on the phone.
  • LAN
    Local Area Network or network used to link multiple computers at a single site (for instance, in a building or campus area). LANs enable workstations within your company to share data, software, and hardware such as printers or high speed modems.
  • LATA
    (Local Access Transport Area) A geographic area defined by the courts within which local switched services are offered by a particular local phone company. There are 200 LATAs in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, LATAs have nothing to do with area codes.
  • Line
    A path of communication. For residential customers, a line connects your individual phone with the local phone company's central office. For business customers, a line generally connects your phone system, rather than each individual phone, to your local central office.
  • Long Distance Call
    A call placed outside the local service area of a local phone company. Long distance calls can be either intrastate or interstate. Generally, incremental use (per minute) charges apply and are billed by your long distance carrier.
  • Modem
    A device that, when used with communications software, enables one computer to talk to another across phone lines. Data is converted by the modem into an analog signal to be carried over the traditionally analog telephone network. Derived from the term "modulator/demodulator."
  • Monthly Recurring Charges
    Charges for phone service that occur every month as a "set" fee, rather than as a variable, incremental use charge. Monthly recurring charges include individual business lines, digital T-1 connections, or dedicated access lines to long distance companies. Basic phone service and advanced features such as call waiting, voice mail, and call forwarding are examples of monthly recurring charges for residential or business customers.

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