Jargon Buster

Jargon Buster

Getting to grips with telecommunications can be difficult when you are also trying to run a business. You may encounter words, terms and phrases that are hard to understand. Our jargon buster helps to explain what many of these terms mean in order to enable you to make an informed choice about the products and services that could help your business.



General Telephony


The division of BT which installs and maintains telephone and broadband connections. In most cases, your provider will contact Openreach on your behalf.


"Private Branch Exchange", a private telephone system that serves an organisation or building. PBX systems serve internal extension numbers within the system and also provide more advanced features such as call transfer, DDI, Music on hold, message waiting, hunt groups, voicemail e.t.c.


"Plain Old Telephone System", Standard, copper wire, analogue telephone connections. Still the prevailing technology for most home telecommunications.


"Calling Line Indentification", Caller ID, allows the recipient of a telephone call to identify the number of the incoming call.


"Direct Dial Inward", a feature where individuals within an organisation can have their own dedicated number which callers can dial to get straight through to that person, bypassing any switchboard or automated answer facility machine altogether.


"Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology", The agreed cordless standard across Europe that allows digital cordless phones to work over the 2.4GhZ radio frequency. The Digital part refers to the encryption of the radio signal that secures data so that others cannot snoop in on calls, as was the case with original cordless phones which used an analogue method of transmission.

IP Technology


‘Voice over Internet Protocol’, a technology that allows users to make voice calls using the internet, either over a fixed or mobile connection.


‘Session Initiation Protocol’, a communications protocol used to set up and clear down calls with one or more users over the internet. Commonly used to initiate and terminate Voice over IP calls.

SIP Trunks

Essentially an internet phone line, each VoIP call requires one SIP trunk. A good quality broadband service can accommodate multiple SIP trunks. SIP trunks are much cheaper than traditional phone lines.


‘Local Area Network’, Data network that connects computers, servers, printers e.t.c. together, generally within one physical location.


‘Wide Area Network’, connects multiple LANs together, typically via VPNs over broadband and/or Leased Lines.


‘Virtual Private Network’, A way of creating an encrypted private communications network over a public network such as the internet.


The amount of data available at any given time via a method of delivery.


‘Computer Telephony Integration’, any process which allows a computer to be connected to a telephone system, allowing the user to dial using their PC's phonebook, answer calls by clicking icons on their screen and even gather & manage voicemail messages directly from their PC.

Fixed Products & Services


A voice and data service that offers two phone channels and low-speed data connections.


A voice and data service that allows between 8 and 30 connections.


A standard landline phone connection, also commonly used for Broadband connectivity.

ADSL Broadband

A standard internet connection delivered over a PSTN line.

Fibre Broadband

A typically faster internet delivered either by fibre optic cable to the cabinet (FTTC), or directly to the premises (FTTP).

Leased Line

A dedicated, symmetrical (upload and download speeds the same), uncontended private connection between two locations used to carry voice, data and video. Often used by large companies for connections to data centers or to other office locations.


A technology used in a LAN to connect computers,can also be used to provide a dedicated connection to the internet.


"Ethernet First Mile", low cost leased line technology, bringing mission critical connectivity within the reach of small businesses.

Mobile Products & Services


'Porting Authorisation Code', is a code that mobile providers must issue on request which allows you to switch your mobile service and keep your existing number.


Third and Fourth generation of mobile communications, allowing high speed internet access, video/audio streaming, downloads and video calling. There are now many handsets capable of using 3G or 4G services.


Technology used to connect to mobile internet. Slower than 3G/4G.


"Access Point Name", a gateway to GPRS mobile data services.


Wireless technology that allows the transfer of data between compatible devices.


The ability to use your phone without holding the mobile device.


"International Mobile Equipment Identifier", 15 digit number, unique to your mobile phone, often found on the back of a device.


Subscriber Indentity Module is a small card containing your phone number, PIN code and other information such as your phone book and text messages.

Contract Terms


'Service Level Agreement', SLAs are part of commercial contracts and set out a supplier's commitment to provide services to an agreed quality, e.g. within a specified period. You may also have a 'Service Level Guarantee' (SLG) which specifies your entitlement to compensation if the SLA is not met.


'Automatically Renewal Contract', ARCs are contracts where, at the end of a minimum contract period, whether an initial or subsequent period, the contract is automatically renewed to a new contract period by default unless the customer proactively informs their provider that they do not wish this to happen. ARCs are banned for businesses with fewer than ten employees.


'Minimum Contract Period', A fixed period of time for which a customer commits to taking services from a CP. It may be referred to as an 'MCP', 'initial supply period', 'commitment period', or a 'minimum term'.

Notice Period

The warning, in days, you must give to your provider to inform them that you intend to cancel or switch your services.

Payment Surcharges

A form of additional charge specifically in relation to any extra charges levied for not paying the providers standard method (usually direct debit).

Additional Charges

Additional amounts of money, over and above the headline prices, that you must pay. These could be for additional services or non-standard services, for example: fully itemised bills, non-direct debit payments, ETCs.

Other Jargon


Slamming is an extreme form of mis-selling that occurs when your telephone/broadband services are switched - or attempted to be switched - without your knowledge and/or consent.

Unified communications

Normally used to refer to a situation in which a business integrates many forms of communications products and services into a network, allowing for unified operation and management, alongside and a consistent user-interface.


The time in which a network or a machine, e.g. a server or router, is operational.


'Internet Service Provider' eg. Virgin/BT

Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing is a method of allowing multiple parties to talk seamlessly with each other with the advantage of being able to broadcast and receive video and images at the same time.



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