Beginner's guide to VoIP terminology

Discover the world of VoIP with this beginner's guide, providing detailed explanations of essential terminologies. Learn about the technology that powers modern telephony and enhances communication efficiency.

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Are you considering switching to VoIP but find the jargon surrounding it a bit daunting? That's where this guide is here to help. In this must-have beginner's directory to VoIP terminology, we will demystify the complex terms and concepts associated with VoIP. Whether you're a business owner or an individual looking to enhance your communication capabilities, this blog will provide you with a clear understanding of essential VoIP terms. We will break down each term, empowering you to make informed decisions and navigate the world of VoIP with confidence. 


Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted over a network within a given time. Bandwidth is measured in bits per second (Bps), and analog devices’ bandwidth is measured in Hertz (Hz). VoIP determines the capacity for voice data to be transmitted smoothly and without interruptions. Therefore, sufficient bandwidth is crucial for ensuring high-quality and uninterrupted voice calls.

VoIP deskphone

VoIP deskphones are physical devices that resemble traditional telephones but are specifically designed for VoIP communication. They connect directly to the internet or local network and allow users to make and receive VoIP calls without needing a computer. They utilise Ethernet or fibre optic cables instead of traditional phone lines to facilitate communication. 

Apart from voice calls, these deskphones often provide additional features like video calls, conferencing capabilities, call forwarding, voicemail, and caller ID, enhancing the overall communication experience.


Softphones are software applications that enable users to make voice calls using their computers or mobile devices and are typically powered by VoIP. By utilising the internet or local network, softphones transform your device into a virtual telephone, providing flexibility and convenience.

IP address

An IP address is a unique numerical identifier assigned to devices connected to a network. Each device connected to the internet is set with an IP address, allowing it to communicate and interact with other devices on the network. 

IP addresses are divided into two main types: public and private

  • A public IP address is a distinctive address designated to your network router by your internet service provider, enabling direct accessibility over the internet. 
  • A private IP address is an exclusive address assigned by your network router to your device, facilitating secure connections within a private network to other devices.


A codec, short for coder-decoder, is a process that compresses (encodes) and decompresses (decodes) large amounts of data, images and video. VoIP codecs compress transmitted data during calls, resulting in reduced latency and improved audio quality. Common codecs used in VoIP include G.711, G.722, and G.729, although many other variations are used. They are particularly useful for media streaming and video conferencing.


Real-time in VoIP refers to the ability to transmit voice and audio data with minimal delay over the internet. It ensures that conversations and interactions in VoIP calls occur in a seamless and timely manner, mimicking the real-time experience of traditional telephone conversations.


Jitter is a term used to indicate a momentary fluctuation in the transmission signal. The internet isn't always perfect, and packets can get lost or delayed, so a jitter can result in inconsistent audio quality or intermittent pauses. Network conditions, congestion and improper configuration, can contribute to jitter. 


Latency is the term used to describe the delay that occurs between the transmission and reception of data packets. It represents the "lag" or time gap between when a caller speaks and when the other party hears them on the receiving end.

Excessive latency can cause noticeable delays between speaking and hearing, leading to communication issues meaning that low-latency networks are crucial for a seamless voice experience. 

Auto Attendant

An auto attendant is a computerised phone system that efficiently handles incoming calls by giving callers options to direct their call to the appropriate department or individual. By playing a pre-recorded greeting and offering instructions, the auto attendant enhances customer experience and enables businesses to manage incoming calls more effectively. 

Customisable to suit specific business needs, they can offer various to make finding departments and representatives easier. They can also be configured to operate outside regular business hours, ensuring seamless customer service even when the company is closed. Auto attendants are designed to enhance call management and reduce the need for manual call handling, improving efficiency and customer experience.


Clipping occurs when certain portions of an audio signal are cut off or distorted due to insufficient bandwidth or network issues. It can result in garbled or incomplete voice transmission, affecting call quality and clarity.


Porting refers to the process of transferring an existing phone number from one service provider to another. For example, in VoIP, porting enables users to retain their phone numbers when switching from traditional phone services to VoIP.


A protocol defines the rules and procedures for data communication between devices or networks. Protocols ensure seamless interoperability between different VoIP systems and devices. 


A packet is a unit of data that consists of a payload (the actual information being transmitted), originator, destination and synchronising communication. The purpose of using packets is to transfer them over a network, allowing each individual packet to be routed along the most efficient path to reach its destination. At the receiving end, packets are reassembled based on the addressing information in the packet headers. Routers in the network play a crucial role in storing and forwarding packets, considering network delays, errors and re-transmission requests from the receiving end.

Service Provider

A VoIP service provider (like us at T2k) offers the infrastructure and services necessary for VoIP communication. They manage the network, servers and software required to route voice calls over the internet. Service providers often offer additional features such as voicemail, call forwarding and conference calling. 


Telephony refers to the technology and methods used for voice communication over a distance. In VoIP, telephony encompasses the hardware, software and protocols that enable voice calls to be made and received using internet-based networks. 

Beginner's guide to VoIP terminology: Blog by T2k the communication experts

Common acronyms in VoIP

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)

SIP is a signalling protocol used in VoIP to initiate, modify and terminate voice and video communication sessions. It facilitates call setup, call control and enables various features such as call transfer and conference calling.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)

PSTN refers to the traditional telephone network that relies on physical copper lines to transmit voice calls. It is the familiar landline system found in homes and businesses. PSTN operates by sending analogue voice calls over circuit-switched phone lines composed of copper wire. This global network comprises local, long-distance and international carriers that facilitate telecommunication services.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange)

A PBX is a private telephone system used within an organisation to manage internal and external calls. In VoIP, a virtual PBX is hosted in the cloud, eliminating the need for physical hardware and providing advanced call management features.

ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter)

An ATA device enables you to utilise your traditional analogue phone for internet-based conversations. By repurposing your existing standard phone, you can avoid investing in new equipment for your internet-based communication setup. The ATA bridges your analogue phone and the internet, facilitating seamless voice communication without requiring a complete hardware upgrade.

IP (Internet Protocol)

IP is the fundamental protocol for sending and receiving data over the internet. In VoIP, voice data is encapsulated into IP packets for transmission across IP networks. 

Kbps (Kilobits per second)

Kbps is a unit of measurement that represents the speed at which data is transmitted or received over a network. It indicates the amount of bandwidth consumed per second. In VoIP, Kbps measures the data rate of voice packets, indicating the amount of data transmitted in kilobits per second.

Seize the benefits of VoIP

By familiarising yourself with these VoIP terminologies and acronyms, you can better understand the technology and concepts underpinning VoIP communication. So whether you're a business considering a switch to VoIP or an individual interested in digital telephony, this guide provides a solid foundation to explore and engage with VoIP systems and services.

VoIP has transformed communication, offering cost-effective, scalable, and feature-rich alternatives to traditional telephone systems. Now armed with the knowledge of key terminology, you're equipped to embark on your VoIP journey with confidence.

Remember, as technology continues to evolve, so does the world of VoIP. So stay curious, explore new features and advancements and embrace the power of voice communication. VoIP opens up a world of possibilities, connecting people across the globe and revolutionising the way we connect, collaborate and communicate.

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Ready to switch to VoIP? T2k is here to help

We understand that transitioning to new technology can be daunting for businesses, especially when unfamiliar with the systems and their specific requirements. T2k is committed to simplifying the decision-making process by offering jargon-free conversations. Our specialists are here to provide expert advice, helping you choose the right VoIP system that best suits your business needs. Contact us today to receive personalised guidance on making a smooth transition and exploring various VoIP systems to find the perfect fit for your requirements.

Lee Clarke
Sales Director

Having worked for T2k for nearly 25 years, it's fair to say that Lee is an expert when it comes to all things telephony and business communications. Overseeing the commercial side of the business, he has helped the company evolve and grow through the decades. In recent years, and with the advent of VoIP and hosted telephony, Lee has made sure that T2k is at the forefront of technological developments. With a firm interest in helping businesses navigate the world of telecoms, Lee is responsible for the majority of the content on this website.

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