Glossary

ADSL

“Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line”, a way of sending digital data – such as the internet – over copper phone lines. Analogue telephone services share the copper with ADSL signals. The data rate is “asymmetric”, meaning the download speed is faster than the upload speed. So now you know how download and upload speeds are different, but not why. See DSL

APRA|AMCOS

These are the copyright organisations that police the music and performance of music within Australia. The acronyms stand for the Australasian Performing Rights Association and the Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners’ Society. If you play the radio or music on hold over your telephone system, you must pay a licence fee to APRA|AMCOS. If you don’t, you are in breach of copyright, and you will have to pay a hefty fine, and then buy a licence anyway. Or call Image On Line and get tailored On Hold Messages and music for much less money than either.

Automated attendant

This is also known as a Virtual Receptionist. It is a pre-recorded voice, rather like an automatic receptionist that answers your phone with a message for the caller. It is very popular with large organisations that can’t afford real receptionists, but still need to direct callers to the relevant department.

It’s also used by small but busy single-person front desks such as medical and dental clinics to screen calls and provide information until the receptionist can take the call live. It is sometimes called “AA” or “virtual receptionist” in telephone brochures, and usually includes Interactive Voice Responses (IVR) or Voice Prompts to direct the caller, or other forms of Telephone Voice Recordings.

Binary

Binary is used as a method of storing and transmitting data. Binary is counting in Base Two, instead of Base Ten which is how we usually count. Digital data uses Binary because of the two states that can be represented by a magnetic direction or a wave modulation, indicating “on” (I) or “off” (0) as the two states. Each bit of information (I or 0) is known as, well, a bit… and 8 bits make a byte.

See Bits and Bytes.

Bits and Bytes

Bits are one piece of binary information, which can be described as being in one of two states, for example “on” or “off”. One byte is made up of 8 bits, giving you 28 or 256 possible combinations in one “byte”, enough to cover all the keys on a standard keyboard.

Bits are usually represented as “b”, and Bytes as “B”.

Bits are usually used in data speed (e.g. 1 mbps or one mega-bit per second), and Bytes are usually used in data size (e.g. a 1 mB file, or One mega-Byte file.)

Bluetooth

This is a method of communicating wirelessly between electronic components. It works for distances up to 10 metres. It is commonly used in consumer electronics, such as keyboards, mouses (mice), and in cars for wireless audio between smartphones and car stereos. It was released by the Swedish company Ericsson in 1994, and named after the old Viking King, Harald Bluetooth, who developed a unique method of communicating between Vikings.

Broadband

A generic term for high bandwidth capacity internet. It usually refers to high-speed always-on internet, as opposed to dial-up internet which must be requested or “dialed up” from the Internet Service Provider. Any internet service with the capacity to deliver digital data at hundreds of kilobits per second or faster would be considered broadband.

Cat 5

The cable that joins your computer to your LAN, or local area network. In new IP-based telephone systems, it also connects your telephone. If you have a Cat 5 connection to your phone – the same as a computer connection – you are using an IP-based telephone system. If you have an analogue phone cable, smaller than a Cat 5 but like it, it’s an RJ-45 connector, and your phone system is most probably an analogue PBX telephone system, not IP-based. Cat5 cables are is usually blue, but it can come in various other colours, depending on your office decor.

Cat 6

Unlike Cat 5 which allows speeds up to 100Mb, Cat 6 allows speeds up to 1000MB on your local are network.  In simple terms it is like having a 100 lane highway and a 1000 lane highway. They are also usually blue just to confuse non-techs.

Carriage Service Provider or Carrier

A company that provides a telecommunications service to the public using carrier network infrastructure. It’s usually country-wide and very expensive to build. Carriage Service Providers are licenced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

CE, or Customer End, or Customer Equipment

The Customer end of the telephone network. It’s the box on the wall where the lines come into your premises. It’s the part of the telephone network that allows telephone users to connect to the local switch or exchange. It was known as the “local loop” and used to consist of lots of pairs of twisted copper wires, which are now being superseded by IP-based telephone systems.

Chat

A smartphone-based or computer-based program that precludes the need to ever chat to anyone face to face ever again.

Chimes

The pre-recorded awful robotic electronic music added to telephone systems to induce callers placed on hold to hang up as soon as possible. Messages on hold are much better, so call Image On Line to replace the chimes with tailored On Hold Messages for your business.

Circuit Switching

When a call is made between two parties, the entire connection is dedicated to that call only, for the entire duration of the call. Circuit switching is being superseded by Packet Switching, which eBay must be worried about. See also PSTN.

CLI or CND or CNI

Calling Line Identification, Calling Number Display, or Calling Number Identification. This is when you can see your caller’s number when they call you. It will usually show you their name too when they are listed in your contacts, so you know not to answer when you’re down the pub.

Cloud

The Cloud is a nebulous word referring to “somewhere out there” where your data is stored, as opposed to data that is stores “locally”, or in computer servers at your premises.

There are many “cloud service” providers, and they save you going to the expense of putting large expensive servers in your premises. They are secure and often “mirrored”, which means data is repeated across two or more sites, so if the one in Brisbane goes bung, the one in Perth is still up and working, and you won’t notice.

In telephone terms, with an IP-based telephone system, your telephone call goes via the “cloud” to the caller at the other end. Your PBX can be at your local premises, or hosted “in the cloud” by your Telco.

Co-axial Cable (Coax)

A cable with a central core of copper and a surrounding sheath of copper, separated by a non-conductive insulator (a “di-electric”). Your TV’s antenna cable is co-axial. It has also given its name to Cable TV.

Copper Cut-off

The “Copper Cut-off” refers to the discontinuation of the plain old (copper) telephone service (POTS) when the National Broadband Network is available in an area, currently 18 months after the NBN roll-out is completed in an area. For example, in Victoria, parts of Brunswick and South Morang lost their copper service on 23 May 2014. Switch-over to the NBN is not automatic, and telephone customers will need to contact a Retail Service Provider to change from the old network to the NBN.

You don’t have to change your On Hold Messages away from Image On Line because you’ve joined the NBN, we can still provide our brilliant message on hold service.

Copyright

In telephones, this refers to the rights to play (or “copy”) music over your telephone system, whether from your own music selection or from the radio – including free-to-air radio or internet radio. APRA|AMCOScharge for licenses to play music over your telephone. Alternately you can use a service such as Image On Line’s Telephone On Hold Messages, which is tailored messages on hold for your business, as well as being considerably cheaper than a copyright licence.

CPE or Customer Premises Equipment

These are the telephone handsets, computer equipment, modems and routers that are physically at your premises, as opposed to the equipment at the service provider’s premises, or elsewhere on the network.

CPU

Stands for Central Processing Unit, the main guts of any computer, smartphone, server, or any data-handling device.

Data

Any chunk of information, such as a file, a picture, an email, or a pizza-delivery order, that can be sent across a network. The singular is “datum”, but because that would just be one “bit” of information, nobody uses it except pedants. You can say either “day-ta” or “dar-ta”, again nobody cares except pedants.

Data Speed

This relates to how fast a network can transfer data, usually described in “bits per second”, or bps. It can be expressed in kilobits per second (kbps, or pretty slow), megabits per second (mbps, or much faster) or gigabits per second (gbps, or rip-the-cable-up fast). See Bits.

DECT

Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications. A wireless telephone system used by staff when there are many wireless telephones in a common space, such as a Department Store or a Hotel.

Dial Up

In the context of internet use, it refers to using the telephone network to literally dial up a link to an internet service provider (ISP) over the telephone line (DSL). The link to the ISP is only maintained for the duration of the connection, and when you stop surfing the net it hangs up. It is unbearably slow compared to broadband.

Digital

Digital can refer to any data that converts its information into numbers (digits) so it can be transferred over a network easily and accurately. Digital television and digital telephones are examples of this. In telephones, the sounds’ waveshape is converted (modulated) into numbers, which are then transferred over a network, or wirelessly on a mobile phone system, and then converted back (de-modulated) into the original sound. The words “modulated” and “de-modulated” gives us the word “Modem”.

Digital telephone

A digital telephone system converts an audio waveshape into a series of numbers (digits), which can be transmitted on a telephone network more easily than the original waveshape. CDs, MP3 songs, and WAV files are examples of digital audio.

Digital Cliff

This is when your digital phone just cuts out in the middle of a conversation, or your digital TV cuts out suddenly in the middle of the football game you were watching. With digital, you either get excellent reception, or no reception at all. When the signal gets weak, it doesn’t give you a fuzzy picture or sound, it just gives you nothing. Nada. Zip. This is the “cliff” you just fell off.

Digital Compression

A way of reducing the amount of data needed to transmit a digital signal. It was originally developed by clever sound engineers to make you sound as if you are underwater.

DNS, or Domain Name System

This is the directory system for the internet, rather like a telephone book. For example, typing www.imageonline.com.au directs you to the server that holds our webpages, so you can see our On Hold Messages services. This directory is controlled by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which ensures that no two names in the directory are alike. ICANN is housed in a secret location at Suite 300 12025 Waterfront Drive Los Angeles CA 90094-2536 USA.

DNS Server

A local or remote server that gives (or “serves” like in tennis) a unique identifier (“domain name”) to each device connected to it – computers, mobile phones, iPads etc. See IP Address

Drop Fibre Cable or Drop Cable

A term used by NBN Co during the NBN roll-out. This is the cable that connects your premises to the NBN’s Network Access Point, connecting you to the National Broadband Network. Coming soon.

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line, a protocol used to send internet-type data over the old copper pair of telephone wires (see POTS). It was the most common way that households connected to the internet, but this is changing as cable, fibre, and the NBN is rolled out. ADSL is usually faster to download data than upload data, so you can watch more movies. See ADSL

Exchange, or Telephone Exchange

A system used in PSTN telephone systems that can switch (exchange) one telephone through to another telephone. This was originally done by a telephone operator in a chair who could listen in, but is now done by computer programs that can also listen in. It can take many forms, such as a PBX or a computer server.

Exchange Server

A mail-server system developed for email by Microsoft, and released in 1996. It does for your email and calendar what the telephone exchange does for your phone calls – it finds you, and emails you that huge inheritance from Nigeria that you never knew about.

Fibre Optics

Instead of sending signals along copper wires, the signals are turned into pulses of light and sent down a strand of glass fibre. Fibre optics networks can carry much more information than copper networks, with much less loss of data, so they can run for much longer distances. Like from here to America for your torrents.

GBPS

Giga-bits per second, a really really fast Datatransfer speed.

Handset

The bit of the telephone you talk into and listen to. It can be mobile or desktop, smart or simple, and in the case of smartphones usually has a fashion statement of broken front glass.

HFC

Hybrid Fibre Cable. An HFC network uses a combination of Fibre and Co-axial cable to deliver a signal. More efficient than the “twisted-pair” copper telephone network used for DSL, it may form part of the National Broadband Network. Soon.

IAP

Internet Access Provider, a wholesaler of internet bandwidth and related services to ISPs and Retail Service Providers.

Image On Line

Australia’s leading provider of On Hold Messages, Voice Prompts, Telephone Voice Messages and many other audio productions, including Radio Ads, Jingles, and Voice-overs. Image On Line will then write and record your messages on hold. Really friendly, and easy to get hold of by calling 1300 246 243 or clicking www.imageonline.com.au.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or Voice Prompt

IVRs direct your caller to the department they are seeking, without the need for a human receptionist. They are the instructions you hear when calling large organisations such as a Bank or Telephone Company, and carry directional instructions, “Please Press One for Sales, or Press Two for Accounts”, and so on. They can be incorporated into the friendly welcoming message of an Auto Attendant.

IP Address

Your device’s Internet Protocol Address. It is the unique address of that device, usually a string of numbers, which identifies a device on a network. It is allocated to the device by a DNS Server (see DNS). Type “what’s my IP” into your search engine, and it will tell you what your IP address is.

IP Addresses can either be “static” which means they never change, or “dynamic”, which means a new IP address is assigned by the DNS each time you connect to the network.

IP-based Telephone System

This is where your telephone calls are routed over the internet, instead of through the copper telephone network. You won’t know the difference. Whether you use a copper or an IP-based Telephone System the pizza shop still says “hold the line please”.

An IP-based telephone system can do some amazing things, like telling you which department your callers are calling (e.g. complaints or sales), the average time taken to answer the phone, or how long each caller is put on hold, and by which telephone extension.

IP-based Telephone Systems can also connect directly to your computer network, which allows for some pretty amazing Unified Communications tricks.

ISDN

Integrated Services for Digital Network. It is a method that allows transmission of voice, data, video, and other network services over the PSTN network. ISDN is commonly used where high-quality audio communication is needed, such as in radio broadcasting for international interviews or foreign correspondents’ news reports.

ISP

Internet Service Provider, also known as a Retail Service Provider. This is the company from which you buy your internet access.

KBPS

Kilo-bits per second, a Data transfer speed.

Local Area Network, or LAN

This is a small local network that connects a few devices to the internet. If you have two computers at home, you are most likely using a LAN. The internet will enter your house via a hole in the wall, go into a Modem, and then into a Router (sometimes a modem/router is in the same unit). Anything that connects to the router to get to the internet is on the LAN, or local area network. See also WAN.

LTE

This stands for Long Term Evolution, another way of saying 4G, which is the latest wireless mobile telephone coverage technology. Blazingly fast, it will allow for things like using your smartphone as a wallet – something most people already do with a specially-designed smartphone case.

MBPS

Mega-bits per second, a really fast data transfer speed. See Bits and Bytes

 Modem

A device that converts a signal (modulates it) into digital information to make it easier to send into a network, and re-converts a signal received from the network (de-modulates it). “Modulate” and “De-modulate” give us the word Modem.

National Broadband Network (NBN)

A massive government plan to upgrade the telephone system from the old copper-pair network (POTS) to a faster technology, ready for current and future data requirements. It’s coming to you soon, or it might already be outside your door, depending on your electorate suburb. You need to know that changing your services from the old network to the NBN is not automatic. You must contact a telephone company (or “Retail Service Provider”) to arrange connection to the NBN when it is available in your area, or else you will be disconnected when the Copper Cut-off occurs after the NBN is available. Soon.

NBN Co

The company created by the government to deliver the National Broadband Network. It has a huge and immensely complex task ahead of it, so please be patient, it’s coming. Soon.

Network Access Point (NAP)

The Network Access Point is the point on the NBN’s local fibre cable where your premises are connected to the NBN (by a drop fibre). They’ll be installed on a street corner or telegraph pole near you. Soon.

Next G

What Telstra call 4G, for some reason. Everyone else calls it 4G.

On Hold Messages

On-hold messages tell your clients about your company while they are on hold – but that’s not all. Messages on hold are an inexpensive and effective way of informing and entertaining a caller so that they don’t hang up. With new modern telephone systems, you can have many options of voices on your telephone service, not just message on hold. They are a form of Telephone Voice Recordings provided by Image on Line, 1300 243 246.

Packet Switching

Packet switching is where all data – whether voice, text, movies or instagrams – are clumped into “packets” for transmission, regardless of the data type. This contrasts with Circuit Switching in telephony, used in GSM before 3G, where the voice takes the whole bandwidth. That’s why, on an older mobile phone, you couldn’t surf the net while talking on the phone – they didn’t use packet switching, they used circuit switching.

PBX

Private Branch Exchange. The PBX switches your internal telephones to one another, and provides access for those telephones to the outside telephone network. Some PBXs are local, and some are hosted by your Telco, which means you don’t need the expense of installing a PBX in your building until you are big enough for it. PBXs can be hosted or local, circuit-switched or packet-switched, neither of which you will need to know about unless you are a Telco. A Server-based PBX can do some amazing things, like automatically re-routing calls after hours to your mobile so you can take that sales call without leaving the restaurant.

POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service

This is a real acronym used by telephone technicians! This is the old copper-pair telephone service that is being replaced with the NBN soon. Under the current NBN plan, the plain old telephone system will be “turned off” and cease to work eighteen months after the NBN is available in an area. Switch-over to the NBN is not automatic, customers will need to make arrangements to connect to the NBN before the POTS is switched off. See Copper Cut-off.

PSTN

Public Switched Telephone Network.  Originally a network of fixed-line analog telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital in its core network and includes mobile and other networks, as well as fixed telephones.

Retail Service Provider

This is NBN Co’s name for the network service provider who provides the communication services (internet, telephone, etc) to the end user. Retail Service Providers offer the service to take you from the old network to the NBN, which is coming soon. It’s usually your ISP or Internet Service Provider.

RJ45, RJ21, RJ11

Different types of old-fashioned telephone plugs, smaller than a Cat 5 plug but it looks similar. RJ stands for Registered Jack, and is aged for 12 years in American Oak barrels.

Router (1)

A device that sends signals around a network. The router in your home “serves” the internet to your devices – your computer, iPad, smartphone, and sometimes your TV, Playstation or X-Box, or other connected devices. Sometimes a modemand router are contained in the same unit.

Router (2)

A device for carving out recesses in benchtops for new technological devices such as remote controls to reside in.

SIP

Sessional Initiation Protocol. When Technicians talk about a SIP telephone service, they mean your voice is going over the internet, instead of over the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). When the NBN rolls past you (soon), you will need to move to a SIP telephone service.

Smartphone

A mobile handset that doubles as a computer of some sort. As a fashion statement, it usually sports a very tasteless plastic case and a broken front screen.

Server

A computer that “serves” things to other computers on a network. Rather like a Butler for data.

Telco

Telco is short for “Telephony Company”. The word Telecom is also used. Telstra was once the only Telco in Australia (and it was known as Telecom from 1975 to 1993), until Optus joined it in 1992. There are now hundreds of Telcos in Australia, offering many tiers and qualities of service. Many IT companies are becoming Telcos because of the IT component of modern telephone systems. Telcos are very busy at the moment, because everyone is moving to sort out their telephone service to be ready for the NBN, which is coming soon.

You don’t have to change your On Hold Messages and Telephone Voice Recordings away from Image On Line just because you’ve changed your Telco; we work with all telcos and telephone systems, and we can still provide our brilliant message on hold service for you, whatever type of telephone service you have.

Telephone Service

A system that lets you talk to someone far away. Alexander Graham Bell first did this in 1875, when he asked his assistant over the telephone to “come here please”, and the appearance of the assistant at his side proved that the telephone had worked.

In the 1920s, the Australian government ruled that every house must have a telephone line outside it. This has eventually led to the current NBN roll-out (coming soon). Every house must still have the modern equivalent of a telephone line available outside it, except it will now be a very-high-speed data highway capable of telephone, internet, video, pizza delivery – much more than asking an assistant to “come here please”.

Telephone Voice Recordings

These are pre-recorded voices, uploaded to a telephone system, to provide automated information to the caller. With new telephone systems, you can have many options of voice on your telephone service, such as messages on hold, voice prompts, and after-hours messages.

Image On Line is the largest provider of Telephone On Hold Message Recordings in Australia.

There are several forms of Telephone Voice Recordings currently used:

On Hold Messages give the caller information and entertainment while the caller is placed on hold.

Auto-attendant (or Virtual Receptionist) can automatically answer your phone with a message, right up front.

Interactive Voice Responses or Voice Prompts direct your caller more accurately – “Press One for Sales”, etc. These usually form part of the Auto-attendant voice.

Voice Mail Messages can be personally recorded, or professionally tailored for each person.

After-hours Messages can be optioned to leave a message, or refer the caller to an After Hours service, like a Voice Prompt.

Each message on hold the caller hears should be crafted specifically for each company on whose service it will be used. Image On Line have written and produced some very creative and customer-friendly messages for thousands of businesses throughout Australia. And some in New Zealand as well.

Unified Communication (U.C.)

Unified Communication is a fancy noun for convergence, which is another fancy noun for how your telephone, your computer, and your smartphone, are all working together to keep you working longer and harder. Unified Communication has many uses. For example, if I put a meeting in my computer’s calendar for Tuesday from 2 to 3pm, and you call me during that time, you’ll hear a recorded voice saying “sorry, but he’s in a meeting until 3pm. Please leave a message…”

Or, if a customer with a phone number that’s also listed in your system calls you, their customer record details can pop up on the screen when they call, interrupting that Facebook session you were just getting into.

USB

Stands for Universal Serial Buss. It’s a protocol for connecting devices with plugs that must be turned over three times before the plug goes in.

Virtual Receptionist

An Auto Attendant. A voice recording that replaces your receptionist until their nails are dry and they can take the call.

VOIP

It stands for “Voice Over Internet Protocol”, a method of using the internet for telephone services. It treats the sound of your voice like any other piece of digital data, and sends it over the internet in close to real time. When Skype or Facetime are used with audio only, they are VOIP services. VOIP is being used more and more as people leave the old copper-based telephone network.

VPN

A Virtual Private Network. A VPN keeps your connection to the internet more secure. When you use a Wifi Hotspot, using a VPN adds security and privacy to your connection. VPNs are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data. A VPN can also be used to pretend you are in New York when you are actually in Melbourne, something that Game of Thrones fans find handy.

WAN

Wide Area Network. Where your LAN goes when it goes back out through the hole in the wall.

Wifi

A wireless method of connecting devices to a network, usually a local-area network like a business or a residence. CSIRO owns some of the patents for the technology behind Wifi. The word “Wifi” was made-up by a marketing company in 1999 because it is easy to remember than IEEE 802.11b-n, which is its real name. It has become traditional in Melbourne coffee shops that you must use their free Wifi before they’ll let you buy their coffee.

Wifi Hotspot

Something you must use before the coffee shop will let you buy their coffee.

Wireless

Wireless is just that – a data connection without any wires. It uses radio signals to transmit and receive data. Examples of “wireless” are WifiBluetooth, ABC 774 Melbourne, and digital telephone services such as 2G, 3G and 4G. In areas where running fibre is impractical, such as in rural areas, wireless technology will soon provide the NBN services across large distances, sometimes a kilometre or more. Soon.

4G

The third-generation of digital mobile telephone technology is now used extensively by Uni students to find out which pub to go to. It supercedes 3G, as the number would suggest.