A Journey in Understanding Telecommunication Terms

The first step in understanding telecommunications is to learn the lingo.


Personally, my employment background consists of retail, banking, and finance for the last 15 years. Life has a funny way of preparing you for the future in that sometimes it just doesn’t. I have had the pleasure of working in Telecommunications for the past six months and have been welcomed with open arms to a community of intelligent caring professionals. However, not having any clue about Telecommunications to begin with, my trepidation almost consumed me. The fear of being unknowledgeable, and therefore unsuccessful, in this career path was not altogether stomped out by the amount of information I was able to get my hands on in the beginning. The hurdle was not where to find the relevant information, but rather how to understand what the terms and phrases of the Telecom world meant. Some lingo can be used interchangeably by those who have been immersed in the behind the scenes scope of telecommunications for years. For a newbie like me though, I was cautious to speak up feeling self-conscience that I was not using the correct descriptions or labels when attempting to communicate with clients, vendors or even within my own TEM team. I will always have questions, that is just my nature; but I am much more comfortable now to admit that I do not understand a phrase or terminology that I come across. With the support of my manager and other coworkers’ I was able to have a comfortable foothold in the telecommunication world.

These are some of the basic terms that I thought helped me out from the start, explained in the simplest, diluted, most straightforward possible way… for anyone with no telecom background I think this is helpful:

  • DID block: 20 lines. DID Stand for Direct Inward Dialing and is a phone line provided by a local company usually for businesses, so a DID block is comprise of 20 of those lines, like a set, that are typically in sequential order. These can be assigned to direct employees phones, instead of having to go through an operator.
  • PRI: A PRI can be hundreds or even thousands of DID blocks, so it needs to be labeled as a circuit ID.
  • Bandwidth: Network speed; measures how much data can flow through a specific connection at one time. Picture an hour glass. The sand is the bits of data trying to pass through the skinny tube in the center or the “connection channel”. The larger the center tube is, then the faster the sand will pass through. So a higher bandwidth will help you download data faster. Trying to download too much at once with a smaller bandwidth will slow down the time it takes to complete the download, in essence, getting “bottlenecked”.
    • Analog is measured in Hertz; cycles per second (Hz) and are usually traditional land lines for phones, but can be compared to devices such as a old school record player or VCR.
    • Digital is measured in bits per second (bps) and everything is pretty much digital these days; from CD’s and DVD players to our smart phones and cable TV providers.
    • Ethernet is a common wire used for connecting multiple devices.
  • Broadband: A high-capacity broadcast method that allows a large amount of information over a wide range of frequencies, most commonly used for cable TV connections because it can handle multiple channels.
    • Cable modem, operates through coax TV provides high speed internet.
  • VoIP: (stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”) is a telephone connection provided through the internet rather than traditional phone networks so that a large amount of data can be sent through one large connection digitally instead of analog. This helps avoid paying for long distance or international charges, but requires a phone with VoIP software, microphone, and of course a computer so that it can use the internet connection.
  • Wireless: Although this is a word used frequently in this day and age, its more commonly referred to as Wi-Fi which is what you use to connect to the internet when you do not have the device (computer or phone) physically hooked up with a cord. We have come a long way since the cordless house phones of the 90s. A router with wireless capability is needed for this connection to be active.
    • Be sure to create a unique password to link to this connection so that your neighbor doesn’t siphon your WiFi! It is also helpful to name your personal WiFi network something unique so that you can easily recognize it when you need to manually connect or do maintenance. Here are some fun examples:
      • The LAN Before Time
      • It Burns When IP
      • Bill Wi, the Science Fi
      • Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi
      • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Lan
      • I’m cheating on my WiFi
      • Help, I’m Trapped in a Router!
      • A Van Down By The River
      • Mom, Click Here for Internet
      • Silence of the LAN
      • New England Clam Router
      • Wi believe I can Fi
      • Router? I hardly knew her!
      • Wu-Tang LAN
      • Drop it like it’s Hotspot

My hope is that this will peak the interest of anyone just getting their feet wet in the Telecommunications industry and perhaps a chuckle to those who have been swimming the Telecom waters for years. In the end, my common sense and drive for solving riddles will continue to help me thrive in deciphering my clients’ invoices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *