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Key Terms

Looking for an advanced communication solution but overwhelmed by the terms you hear? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of the key terms used in the telecommunication industry (and that our dedicated communication specialists use quite often).

Feel free to explore our key terms but know that with VoiceSpin, you are in safe hands! All you have to worry about is keeping your clients happy! Our solutions will provide you with secure communication solutions so you can maximize your revenue as well as increase customer satisfaction and loyalty!



Cloud computing is a hot buzzword that many people don’t fully understand. Cloud, which is also referred to as a Network Cloud, is a public (or semi-public and can also be private) space through which data is transmitted and stored. Cloud Computing provides an array of services (rather than products) that enable internet based communication. With the evolution of VoIP, cloud services have become even more advanced and have integrated with voice communication making way to a range of Cloud Telephony services that replace traditional PBX systems in favor of IP-PBX systems.

Cloud differs from traditional PBX and IC-Centrex systems due to the fact that when using cloud services, the resources needed are allocated only upon demand – that means that companies don’t need to have their own data center server and can better manage resources through remote cloud computing. Cloud communication providers enable virtual shared hosting as well as private hosting so clients can access the information stored on their cloud whenever necessary.

Why use Cloud? In addition to being secure, cloud computing is cost effective as well as reliable. Companies of all sizes can reduce costs through integration of cloud communication services without risking the loss of services or features. Voice services delivered through cloud can enhance company capabilities and expand options beyond local and regional carriers. While cloud has been available for IT services for many years, only recently has it made its way to telephony and telecom services, and companies that made the simple switch are reporting a better work environment and seamless integration and management.



In 1999 Mark Spencer had a small company that provided support services for Linux based operating systems. As his company grew, so did his need for a phone system that could distribute calls efficiently and quickly among the entire company team. Since the proposals Mark received exceeded the $50K range, Mark decided to save the expense and create his own system. After lots of sleepless nights Mark finally created a code that eventually became the open source communication solution we know today.  So what is Asterisk? Originally it was an open source PBX (more on that below) but today it is a powerful tool that connects communication solutions including VoIP gateways, Contact Centerss, IP PBX systems and other applications that involve real-time communications in small and large business.  Asterisk is a one stop tool that provides companies of all sizes the chance to make their call management system efficient while reducing costs generally associated with telephony communications.

How can Asterisk Help You? In 2011 a study released the findings that over half of the organizations worldwide have implemented open source solutions (OSS – more on that later) as part of their IT strategy. Using unified communication tools can save an average of 1.5 hours per day and per employee in companies and can reduce expenditures on communication by 60%. That means employees are more efficient, wasted revenue is minimized and you and your team can focus on what you do best!


Dial Up and ISDN  

Dial Up is a type of internal access that is based on Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) – all that means is that Dial Up uses telephone lines to connect computers to the intern. A user that connects to the internet via Dial Up is connected to a router (wither wirelessly or with a cable) and an attached modem that dials a selected Internet Service Provider (ISP) in order to establish a secure connection through which users can access internet.

ISDN (or Integrated Services for Digital Network) is a communication standard that enables voice conversations to take place through digital transmissions.

Both Dial Up and ISDN are digital technologies that enable transfer of data and serves as a backup for communication lines. Both technologies are considered relatively outdated as they do not provide the high speed bandwidth companies are accustomed to in modern times.


SIP Trunk 

SIP, which stands for “Session Initiation Protocol” is a technology that is used in order to establish voice communication on a data network – a VoIP call or conference call can be an SIP ‘session.’ SIP Trunking is a replacement technology that can provide the same service as a traditional analog phone. This means that instead of having an actual phone line, SIP trunk technology can provide you with all of the venefits without the hassle.

Why should you convert to SIP Trunking? By integrating SIP Trunking you can reduce your initial costs as well as maintenance costs since SIP trunking doesn’t require physical lines and therefore no need to add on maintenance costs. Depending on your business and the frequency of calls your company sees, SIP Trunking can save you 50% just on your monthly bill (plus you can get a fixed/flat bill so you will also eliminate surprises).  SIP trunking doesn’t just reduce costs – it can also improve sound quality and allow transfer of calls without conversion.



PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange that is used as a switch for telephone systems. A standard PBX has several branches of telephone systems that switch connections and facilitate communication by linking phone lines.

Who Uses PBX and Why? Everyone can (and should) connect via PBX. PBX systems enable connection within a company such as connection of internal phone lines to external lines and providing each employee an extension rather than individual phone line. PBX facilitates switching between communication lines and transferring calls as well as enhances interpersonal communication by distributing calls to relevant employees. PBX can also automate call answering and integrate menu options that will assist the phone system in directing the call to the right person.


Hosted PBX

Hosted PBX is a type of outsourced service which enables businesses to connect via IP to their provider and provides all of the benefits of PBX  (Private Branch Exchange) with hosting at the service provider’s location rather than within the businesses. Hosted PBX is best suited for small and medium businesses as it provides a simple and reliable sophisticated telephone system at an affordable price. Hosted PBX telephone systems are maintained and operated by VoIP providers and facilitates inter-office connectivity – that means employees can be on the go and connect to the business with no additional cost or requirements. Companies can still utilize traditional telephony features such as voicemail, fax, touchtone menu, conference calls, SMS and more through Hosted PBX.



A Centrex is a central exchange for telephone exchange. An IP-Centrex is a service that utilizes PBX to host call platforms at a service provider’s location. Through IP-Centrex, companies can connect using VoIP in order to use voice services. An IP-Centrex provides all of the switching abilities but rather than have the switchboard at the company office, the switching takes place at the central office.


Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL)

DSL is a type of technology that provides internet access through the transmission of digital data via local telephone networks. DSL enables the speedy transfer of end user information by use of high frequency bands to transmit data. The term DSL is often used to identify ADSL and SDSL. The technology used for DSL relies on copper wires and connect telephone switching stations to homes or offices (rather than connect between switching stations). The mechanism that links the DSL connections is called a Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (or DSLAM).


Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)

An Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a type of DSL broadband that is used to connect users to the internet. ADSL technology provides higher bandwidth from the supplier side towards the end-user side (downstream) and enables large amounts of data to be sent over copper phone lines.  ADSL services can be purchased from telecommunication providers and provide companies with advanced technologies such as symmetrical SHDSL or newer technologies such as VDSL that enable even more bandwidth usage for companies of all sizes.


Cable Modem

A cable modem is a network bridge that enables bi-directional communication through radio frequency in order to provide companies with broadband internet access (cable internet).



Firewall computing is a type of network security that can be hardware or software based. A firewall system prevents unauthorized personnel from accessing a private network and is most often used to prevent internet users from accessing private networks.

Technologies that enable the transfer of symmetrical high bandwidths: 


Frame Relay (FR)

Frame Relay is a standard wide area network (WAN) connected by packet switching protocols, which are protocols that divide messages into packets.  Frame Relay networks are widely used in the US and can support high level transfer rates at T1 and T3 speeds. European Frame Relay speeds range from 64 Kbps to 2 Mbps. Frame Relay technology is popular due its price. Frame Relay communication networks can be linked to a number of websites and in order to ensure bandwidth, CIR must be purchased as a complementary service.


Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

ATM is a technology that is based on transferring data in cells or packets and is slowly replacing Frame Relays. ATM technology enables circuit switching at higher speeds and is ideal for companies that require real time data transmission of up to 622 Mbps.


Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A Virtual Private Network is a network that uses public wires (such as those available via internet) in order to connect private networks that exist on the public network. Such networks require access codes and are protected by encryption and other security mechanisms.


Next Generation Network (NGN)

A Next Generation Network is a general term that denotes telecommunication packet based networks that are able to handle a wide range of traffic ranging from voice to data as well as multimedia. NGN systems are IP based and are currently replacing TDM networks due to the fact that they are secure and can be seamlessly integrated to existing company infrastructure. .


“Wireless” Communication

Wireless is defined as being without wires, therefore a wireless communication system is a system that enables the relaying of large data bandwidths without the use of wires. Wireless internal connects companies to the internet using radio waves and can be accessed by connection to a local internet service provider. Wireless internet is generally transmitted at a bandwidth wave of 5 Mbps and the maximum speed is no more than 7 Mbps


Transmission lines

Transmission lines are specialized cables through which radio frequency can be transferred. Transmission lines carry data at a bandwidth of 2 Mbps and can be purchased through telecommunication companies. Transmission lines are beneficial for companies interested in a long term solution with low maintenance cost.


MPLS-based VPN communications: 

MPLS is Multiprotocol Label Switching which is a type of IETF initiative that enables integration of information such as bandwidth to IP. MPLS technology provides companies with a logical way to separate networks of customers with a network security level similar to that provider through Frame Relay and ATM technologies. MPLS technology can be used to create simple networks or can be encrypted to create IP SEC and VPN networks that provide various levels of information security without sacrificing service.

MPLS-based VPN communication is a new communication network that is based on MPLS technology at GIGA Ethernet speeds and enables providers a higher bandwidth to provide a larger number of clients with VPN services while improving the quality of service (QoS).


Fiber Optics

Fiber Optics is a technology based on glass or plastic fibers that are used in order to transmit data and is considered to have several advantages over traditional metal communication lines due to the ability to have a greater bandwidth. Companies using fiber optics to relay communication can carry more data with the assurance that their information is secure. There are two types of fiber optics:

Multi Mode which is used for transmissions up to 550 meters

Single Mode which is used for long distance transmission and can transfer data at speeds of up to 40 GIGA. Single Mode fiber optics are generally used by media companies and large organizations.

Basic Telephony Terms: 



A telephone switchboard is a type of telecommunication that is used to connect telephones and transfer calls. When the switchboard was invented in 1888 it was manually operated in central telephone exchanges. With the development of technology such as PBX and telephony solutions, switchboards have become virtual and automated and are used internally within companies to enable inter-office communication as well as connect offices to external communication lines.


Traditional Switchboard

A traditional switchboard system, also known as a TDM switchboard, is the traditional box where designated tickets are placed for connectivity purposes. The switchboard was comprised of tickets which had predetermined extension numbers and were used to connect external lines with predetermined extensions in order to enable calls.


Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Voice Over Internet Protocal is a type of hardware and software system than provides end users with the ability to use the internet in order to transmit voice data. Through the use of VoIP it is possible to make local and international calls through secure and private networks without additional charges.



VoIP-PBX stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange – that means it offers the same benefits of a traditional PBX, only through the use of VoIP. A PBX system that was designed specifically for VoIP is referred to as an IP-PBX. With IP-PBX systems companies can enjoy all of the benefits at a fraction of the cost plus have the added benefit of knowing their calls are secured online rather than through physical phone lines. Enabling scalability, manageability and simple addition of features is what makes IP-PBX appealing to small and medium sized companies.


Foreign Exchange Office (FXO)

A foreign exchange office is the type of interface used on a VoIP devide that enables connection to an analog PBX extension.  Examples of FXO interfaces are the lines offered by telecommunication providers where there is a speaker on one line and there is an incoming or outgoing call on that line.


Foreign Exchange Station (FXS) 

A foreign exchange station is an internal analog extension that is connected to a regular phone. FXS is usually found on the customer end and connects with company’s telephone providers.


Analog card

An analog cars is a dedicated card line that connect the FXO and FXS. The types of tickets used may vary from those used in the traditional switchboard when used on a VoIP switchboard. There are dedicated FXS or FXO tickets as well as integrated tickets.


Analog Adapter

An analog adapter is an external switchboard box through which FXS and FXO lines or integrated tickets can connect. A number of lines can be correlated on an analog adaptor (ranging from 1 to 24). The analog adapter connects through internal computer netowkrs of through USB connection to the IP switchboard. An example of an analog system can be seen in door intercom systems which enable the opening of doors remotely. VoIP connection of standard phones to fax machines is another example of an analog adapter system.


PRI adapter

PRI, which stands for Primary Rate Interface, is a type of ISDN service that is best suited for large organizations. A PRI Adapter is an external box connected to the switchboard that connects the PRI axis (can be one or more). The adapter connects through an internal computer network or through USB or IP connection. Between 1-4 lines can be connected through a PRI adapter and the main use of PRI adapters is for backing up two switchboards or automation of communication between switchboards.


Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

SIP, which stands for “Session Initiation Protocol” is a technology that is used in order to establish voice communication on a data network – a VoIP call or conference call can be an SIP ‘session.


Internet Protocol (IP) Phone

An IP Phone is a type of phone that connects to the computer and sends traffic or information thourhh an IP network. IP phones are used for VoIP applications and are generally defined as extensions that can be easily transient on a global scale. That means companies can use an IP phone to connect global agents without incurring roaming or long distance costs.


Soft Phone

A Soft Phone is a software application that enables computers to function as telephones through the use of VoIP. This means that company employees can travel anywhere and as long as their computer is connected to the internet, their workstation can function as a mobile phone.