I‘ve been in the telecommunications field for nearly 12 years, and I’m still amazed at the amount of acronyms and other industry terms that get thrown around as if everyone, including the client, knows them. In an effort to shine light on some—though certainly not all—terms, I’ve written this list (with a little humor thrown in).

• CSR. In some circles, this is simply a “customer service representative,” but in telecommunications, this is a lengthy report from the phone company showing all of your services and charges. It seems to be a foreign language when you first see one; don’t be alarmed.
• DID. Direct Inward Dial is a method by which a company can purchase numbers—not lines—from the phone company and give employees private numbers. It’s usually transported through a PRI line (see below).
• D-Marc. This is the point of entry for the public telephone company in a building. It’s usually encased in a green box; it may be outside the building, in a basement, or a storage/maintenance room. In a shared building, there most likely will be one common block that each tenant will have to reach with a private wire connection.
• DSLAM. This isn’t the best dunk shot from U of I basketball star Dee Brown. It’s a mechanism at a phone company’s main location that links many customers to the public network.
• DSL. A Digital Subscriber Line is the system used to push high-speed data over an existing copper telephone line (see POTS). ADSL means there’s a different speed for downloads and uploads; SDSL means the speeds are the same both directions.
• E-911. This is enhanced 911 service—the ability for the 911 operator to track a call to an exact location. For sites under 40,000 square feet, this can be simply the exact street address. For those over 40,000 square feet or in a WAN/MAN setting, it tracks it to an area or desk.
• IP Telephony. A system that’s fully IP has a server—either in a traditional phone cabinet, a router, or a server—and IP telephone devices that connect to the server through a data switch.
• Hosted IP/IP Centrex. These terms are interchangeable and refer to the ability for the phone company or other private provider to supply IP phone service and IP phones to a company without installing all of the controlling equipment at their location. This service is a rental service where a client would pay for phones/features on a per-month basis the entire life of the contract. This isn’t an endorsement for this type of service, simply an explanation.
• Hybrid. Not to be confused with the gas with corn in it. This is the classification of a phone system that can be programmed as a key system (see below) or as a traditional PBX (see below) or populated with IP functions.
• Key System. This is a phone system programmed to show one button on a phone per one line connection from the phone company.
• LAN—Local Area Network is a collection of computers or other devices connected in a single building through the use of hubs or switches.
• LOA. Not to be confused with anything Hawaiian, this is simply a “letter of authorization” giving an appointed agent permission from the customer to interface, make changes, and place orders on their behalf.
• PBX. It refers to a sharing of line resources. On an individual phone, there are no buttons designating individual line like in the Key System above. They typically dial “9” to make phone calls outside of the building. Many systems today are referred to as IP-PBX systems because they use IP rather than digital or analog technology to drive the main processing.
• PRI. This is a digital line that provides 23 application channels and one signaling channel. The 23 application channels can be shared for voice, data, and video applications, depending on the installation. It’s commonly used to replace multiple individual phone lines in a business for a streamlined cost.
• Port. A spot where the cruise ships dock? Actually, this is an order to move existing phone numbers from those one-for-one telephone lines to a PRI (see above) so a client doesn’t lose existing telephone numbers while streamlining cost.
• POTS Line. This is a Plain Old Telephone Line run on copper cable, usually provided by the local telephone company to a home or business.
• Presence. This is a term used in the area of IP Telephony, as well as other data circles such as instant messaging. It’s the ability to quickly see the status of a user in a network—phone, data, or Internet.
• PSAP. Many counties house full-time, 24-hour-a-day 911 operators that are housed at a Public Safety Answering Point. When a 9-1-1 call is routed properly, it goes to the PSAP. Some VoIP line providers can’t provide that service at this time.
• T1/DS1. A 24 channel circuit that comes into a building on a single four-pair copper cable. The total bandwidth of this line is 1.544 Mbps
• VoIP. This stands for Voice over Internet Protocol; it takes sound waves and touch tones and converts them to the 1’s and 0’s used in data transmissions.
• WAN/MAN. Wide/Metropolitan Area Network is a method of connecting smaller LANs with organizations that have multiple sites on the same plot of land, throughout a city or across the country/state. IBI