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  • Understand the Language of Telecom, Part 1
  • Understand the Language of Telecom, Part 1

    March 7th, 2017

    If you were planning to take a vacation to a country where English wasn’t the official language, you would likely spend some time learning keywords and phrases.  For instance, if you were visiting Mexico, you would naturally want to know how to find the nearest bathroom (¿Dónde está el baño?).  If you were going to Paris, you may want to learn how to ask your cab driver to take you to the Eiffel Tower (Pouvez-vous m’amener à la Tour Eiffel?).  And if you were visiting Tokyo, you might find yourself wanting to thank Mr. Roboto (Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto).

    Regardless of your destination, travel agents usually don’t encourage you to become fluent in the language of the region you’re visiting.  Instead, they recommend that you master a small number of terms and phrases that will allow you to communicate and survive at a basic level, thereby making your trip smoother, safer and more enjoyable.

    This is also helpful advice for business owners who are venturing into telecom, where a confusing landscape of jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations can often make it difficult to find answers to even the most straightforward of questions. You know that you want to save money and implement a solution that supports your team while improving your bottom line.  But how do you have that conversation if you don’t speak the language?

    Making Sense of Telecom Alphabet Soup

    For small to midsized business owners and managers who are new to the world of telecom, their passing familiarity with the core concepts can sometimes work against them. Terms like VoIP and SIP have found their way into all levels of business communication; but when someone says SIP, do they mean SIP or did they really mean VoIP?  Terms that refer to completely different things are sometimes used interchangeably – and sometimes even by the providers themselves.

    If you were to take a quick perusal through the glossary of the Telecommunications Industry Association, you would be quickly swallowed up by a tsunami of nearly 6,000 words and phrases. And this doesn’t even include all the acronyms and abbreviations, of which there are over 3500, covering data, voice, products, services, international standards, the radio spectrum, and various regulatory agencies. And as technology advances, this number keeps growing.

    So, while it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that you will one day deal with a skip zone in POTRAZ (the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) or be forced to investigate a fraudulent transaction based on an MSISDN (Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number) within the domain of OCTPR (Office of the Commissioner of Telecommunications & Postal Regulation of Cyprus), it’s not likely.  More importantly, the time you spend learning about things that aren’t relevant to you or your business is time you’ve allowed your competitors to gain a competitive advantage.

    When It Comes to Terminology, Keep It Simple

    If you find the language of telecom to be maddening, you’re not alone.  Throughout our years in this industry, this has been one of the biggest pain points we’ve heard from those who are getting started.

    “At my level, I don’t have time to learn all of this jargon.  What I need is digestible information which will help me make the right telecom decisions for my business.”

    Over the next two posts, we are taking that message to heart by offering a simple and straightforward explanation of concepts and terms you need to know before having those conversations.  The intent is not to overload you with information that can only be translated by a technician.  Nor do we want to offer a dry vocabulary builder.  Instead, we want to introduce a little more precision and clarity into a field where terminology is sometimes used loosely. Hopefully, this will provide you with the right language building blocks so that when the telecom discussion turns toward PBX, PSTN, and SIP, you will be better prepared to ask the right questions and extract the right answers to help your business win.


    Read more articles in this Explain it! series:

    Part 2: Understanding The Language of Telecom: PSTN, Exchanges, PBX

    Part 3: Understanding The Language of Telecom: The Rise of Packets

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    Understand the Language of Telecom, Part 1