“Jargon Buster”: A tool or resource used to clarify and simplify complex technical language or specialized terms. It can be in the form of a dictionary, glossary, or guide that explains these terms in plain language so that anyone can understand them.
Do you know your PBX from your VPL’s? FTTC from an LLU? The world of telecommunications can be complicated. With numerous products, services, and solutions available to businesses, it can be tough to understand what is available in a fast-changing market. Throw a load of technical terminology and jargon into the mix and the job of getting to grips with telecoms becomes almost impossible.
As a buyer, it’s more important than ever that you have the inside track on emerging trends and the terms you need to know about.
Well fret no more! We have compiled some of the tech jargon blogs from across our website into one SUPER blog and added some extra terminology where necessary. In this super jargon buster, we will cover the following areas:
- The PSTN Switch Off
- Unified Communications
- General Telecoms Terms
- Mobile Voice and Data
Firstly, let’s tackle the PSTN Switch Off.
Businesses throughout the UK are facing a deadline to refresh their telephony services. While Openreach continue their march towards an All IP (i.e., ‘full fibre’) network, the industry is a-buzz with jargon. Whether you’re dealing with copper or ethernet cables, it’s easy to get tangled up in the terminology.
With time almost down to the wire, we present to you the top terms and the business impact.
What is the switch off?
Openreach, a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Telecom (BT), installs and maintains the UK’s telephone cables and exchanges (including the phone and broadband networks that run through them).
The team have been tasked with shutting down the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and moving us all to ‘full fibre’ network. Come December 2025, the entire UK PSTN network will cease to exist and all Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products will move to ‘End of Life’ – more on that later.
But don’t let this date fool you. Many areas of the country have already moved to a Stop Sell phase, meaning that no new contracts are available for WLR products. This also means that more than 75% of premises in those areas have access to product that use the ‘full fibre’ network.
It could be that your local exchange is due to be switched over soon. You can visit our landline replacement page to research your nearest exchange on our handy map.
The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) has been in general use since the 1800’s, which is why the move to All IP is long overdue.
The legacy platform uses underground copper wires to provide households and businesses with a reliable means to communicate, but the hardware has seen a steady decline over the last decade.
It was designed primarily for analogue telephone calls. Nowadays, the service is almost entirely digital and can facilitate basic features such as caller ID, call waiting and voice messaging.
With an astronomical amount of data being generated and transferred every year (we’re talking zettabytes, that’s 21+ digits number), it’s clear that the PSTN – and its low bandwidth – just can’t cope with modern requirements.
Not sure what we mean by bandwidth? Imagine low bandwidth as your garden’s hose, high bandwidth as a fire truck hose, and data as the water flowing through. Should be easy to guess which one can move more water at a faster rate…
In terms of physical media, PSTN is a mix of copper wires, cables, fibre optics and wireless. It’s an important ingredient in the infrastructure of network technologies. It’s also important to note that traditional telephone networks don’t just support calling. They’re embedded into card readers and even alarm systems.
But hefty installation charges and a fee per line makes this legacy hardware as costly as it is outdated. As we mentioned previously, the PSTN switch off is long overdue.
A telephone exchange is a telecommunications system that, through ‘switching’, ensures calls are made and received. A phone call will be routed through several switches which operate on local, regional, national, or even international systems.
The desk phones within your region will be connected to a local exchange via a copper or fibre optic line. Once you make a call from your office, that call moves through your local exchange, to your receiver’s local exchange, and then to the receiver’s phone in their office.
Openreach, as well as other companies such as City Fibre, are currently moving through these exchanges, creating our soon-to-be fully fibre country.
All Internet Protocol (All IP) could be described as the language that broadband-connected devices use to speak with each other and transmit data. When it comes to business telephony, All IP networks (or the latest mobile technology) are what businesses should be functioning on.
The quality of business calling is vastly improved with the expansion of broadband services. All IP networks provide faster connections, thanks to significantly bigger bandwidth than the PSTN, as well as access to high-performance features, offering a richer experience for your customers.
There’s no getting away from the cost benefits of an All IP solution. Traditional phone lines see companies charged for each minute of their time.
With an All IP setup, businesses are charged a fee monthly – not by the minute. You can even transfer calls to your colleagues for free. This can work out to huge savings. On top of that, scaling of services is flexible and in the hands of the owner – meaning you pay for the data you need, rather than a flat rate.
Your teams are also offered a better work-life balance, as All IP solutions are the backbone of a solid remote or hybrid working strategy. With both business and residential premises able to benefit from the full fibre rollout, home workers can enjoy superfast connectivity, regardless of the situation. This means that they can get on with their work even with Netflix on and multiple devices scrolling through TikTok at the same time.
All IP solutions even support recruitment strategies as remote positions allow businesses to search farther afield for the right candidate. The talent pool just became an ocean.
The only downside? Once we’re all working efficiently from home, the rare yet much-loved ‘snow day’ won’t blag us all a free day off work.
Openreach is using the term ‘Stop Sell’ to describe the locations in which it will no longer be possible to buy WLR products. This includes all ISDN and analogue lines.
Openreach has announced its intention to move to national Stop Sell of WLR products in September 2023.
Once an exchange area is over 75% full fibre enabled, Openreach will cease the sale of traditional phone line services, copper – including ISDN – and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) to new and existing customers hoping to renew their contract.
End of Life
Sounds pretty final, right? Once Stop Sell is completed throughout the UK, all WLR products will move to End of Life.
By the end of December 2025, the PSTN as we know it will cease to exist. All businesses should move to an All IP solution before this date.
It’s important to reiterate that many exchanges have already entered the Stop Sell phase, so these changes could impact your business before 2025. Visit our landline replacement hub and check the map to discover when your nearest exchange is entering Stop Sell.
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) does exactly what it states on the tin. Put simply, FTTC broadband uses a fibre optic connection that runs from your provider to your roadside cabinets. The cabinet then connects to your home or business through a copper wire.
Unfortunately, broadband speeds with FTTC can be far slower than full fibre connectivity because multiple users share just one connection. Strength is also dependant on the distance between the cabinet and your office HQ.
This technology’s use of copper wire means the service is on its way out. Once the PSTN switch off is complete, this will also mean End of Life for FTTC.
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) creates connections via the internet and is the fastest type of fibre on the market.
It’s considered ‘full fibre’, offering a dedicated fibre optic cable connection from your local exchange to your business. It’s also considered an advanced fibre delivery method, replacing the outdated part-fibre, part-copper broadband connections that FTTC uses.
Great for business use, FTTP can work efficiently in several devices at once. If you’re working with a tablet, laptop and mobile, FTTP delivers speeds much faster than FTTC without slowing down your other devices. There’s also less chance the internet will cut out halfway through an important conference or file sharing session.
As we mentioned previously, once FTTP is available to more than 75% of properties within the catchment of an exchange, the stop sell of WLR products will take effect. This makes FTTP a popular choice ahead of the PSTN switch off.
Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA) is quite a mouthful, but it’s best described as ‘broadband without the landline’.
Purchasing is simple as everything can be amalgamated into one order. However, you will need a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) product like Gamma’s PhoneLine+ to enable you to make and receive calls. If you wish to keep your existing numbers, you’ll also need to make sure that your provider offers number porting.
SoGEA uses the same infrastructure as FTTC so it’s cheaper than FTTP and easy to install. However, it doesn’t quite offer the speeds FTTP can boast. It’s a great option for smaller businesses or those who don’t yet have FTTP access ahead of and beyond the PSTN switch off.
Businesses with greater connectivity demands should opt for FTTP as soon as it is available in their area.
A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is your business’s very own personal telephone exchange. Built and managed within your HQ, the equipment can facilitate all your internal calls while routing external calls to your local exchange.
It’s an expensive strategy, as installation, maintenance and subscription costs can mount up. Pricing can also depend on how feature rich you’d prefer your PBX to be, whereas All IP setups have far more built-in features that can be added easily, and virtually, at any time.
It’s not just the cost that’s driving business buyers towards All IP solutions. With an analogue or ‘traditional’ PBX setup, phones can only be used onsite. Remote working is out of the question.
Updates or amendments could only be remedied by a paid visit from your provider’s engineer. With All IP, you’re in control of any updates or changes. Call forwarding, transferring and so much more can be actioned at the click of a button.
Not having to rely on a landline setup makes your telephone system much more reliable. If your office needs to close due to damage or extenuating circumstances, your teams can still make and receive voice and video calls from home or on the road. All IP solutions also offer scalability as new users, numbers or services can be added at any time.
A traditional PBX system can be limiting, but software enhancements in recent years have led to the introduction of more developed solutions. A Hosted PBX or Cloud PBX (a VoIP phone system – more on VoIP below) better complements agile working, as services are hosted and therefore delivered entirely via the internet. For this reason, they can also be classed as All IP solutions.
Hosted Telephony (Hosted PBX)
Hosted telephony is cloud based. This really just means that the brain of the system resides in a datacentre off site and the only hardware the company needs in its offices is the handsets themselves. Calls are then made using a data connection – which could be a broadband line, ethernet or similar – removing the requirement for ISDN altogether. Because of this, the addition, removal and repair of services is a simple, quick and pain-free process.
There are many benefits available to businesses considering hosted and any organisation with a growth agenda would be wise to talk to their comms provider about it.
If you have made an investment in a PBX in the last ten years then there’s a good chance it’s enabled for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking. Most companies still have ISDN in place to carry voice traffic from the PSTN to their PBX and vice-versa, but ISDN as a technology is fast becoming outdated. It is by its nature inflexible, expensive and difficult to work with. The long-term replacement for ISDN is SIP trunking.
SIP connects voice traffic from and to a national network, either via broadband, ethernet or a private circuit. SIP trunking is a high quality, resilient and, perhaps most importantly, significantly cheaper alternative to ISDN. There are many benefits to using SIP trunking for businesses especially as the PSTN Switch Off means the old ISDN technology will be turned off.
Quality Of Service
Many businesses take broadband and data services from one provider and voice from another. If you are using SIP trunking or a hosted phone system for your business communications then the consequence of this is not just double the administration, double the bills and double the hassle. You might also find that you have voice quality issues too. This is because your calls are routing across the open internet.
However, if your data and voice provider are the same then it’s possible for your provider to tag those voice calls and give them priority over other traffic. This is called Quality of Service (QoS).
The network will protect those calls and they’ll never touch the public internet. The result is higher quality calls and improved customer service delivery.
Be aware though, not all providers have the capability to do this so make sure you ask the question.
Many of you will be familiar with the term ‘ethernet’ and will think of the cables that you use at work or at home to connect devices to a network. In data terms however, the proposition is slightly different. Ethernet is a dedicated data line that gives your business access to the internet. It’s the best way to guarantee reliability and speed of connection. Unlike broadband, ethernet comes with service level agreements and guaranteed speeds and uptime.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses your existing internet connection to make calls, eliminating the need for a landline.
Your phones can connect to the internet wirelessly or through an ethernet cable. Calls can be held, switched, recorded and much more.
With VoIP, calls connect directly to your broadband. This means there’s no need for a complicated on-site installation – something you would experience with a traditional PBX setup. You’ll also forego the cost of additional handsets, as employees can use the service by downloading an app straight to their phone or desktop.
VoIP offers flexibility. With an on-premises PBX, you’re relegated to your office. If you need to work from home, you’ll have to rely on your personal mobile or home landline for work calls which can come across as unprofessional. You’re also limited to the amount of features you can use.
VoIP means your device will work wherever the connection is stable. Perfect in a hybrid setting.
FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence)
Fixed Mobile Convergence has been talked about for some time now but only in recent years true convergence became a reality. The idea of FMC is where both fixed line networks and mobile networks become a single converged platform. This applied to voice, video and data.
Most businesses buy fixed services from one provider and mobile services from another provider. Some integration has been possible by forwarding calls or installing apps on mobile devices which enable them to use data to place a call which routes out on the companies PBX. This however is not true convergence.
To achieve true convergence a supplier needs to own both a fixed and a mobile network and link the two. Only then are calls seamlessly managed across both fixed and mobile devices. There is no need to install and run an app on the mobile device and users need only have one number and one voicemail. Calls can be recorded and reported on a single platform.
Unified Communications is another buzzword in the corporate sector. But what exactly does this technology entail for businesses? The below in-depth guide for beginners will take you through the main features and business benefits of this emerging telecoms platform.
In running your business, you could find your corporate communication needs changing rapidly. For instance, although email and fax have been the default medium for sending or receiving a quotation, a growing number of users now prefer instant messaging for urgent matters.
Similarly, cost concerns could force you to swap voice communication platforms for a text-based chat when you need to hold a lengthy dialogue with a new partner or client. It’s more convenient to discuss matters in detail on text-based platforms. This way, clients can easily reread your conversation to recall details.
As you can see, many different communication strands are at play here. The question is: how can you tie all of them together seamlessly and intuitively? The answer to this communication conundrum is unified communications (UC). UC solutions let you quickly switch between different platforms by integrating all your communications needs and functions in a unified user interface.
Because of its ease and convenience, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is predicted to reach US$44.7 billion by 2030.
Unravelling the technical jargon of UC
The term “unified communications” can be confusing at first. Business owners often ask, “What form of technology is it?” UC isn’t just one piece of technology; it’s an umbrella term comprising various forms of communications functions and platforms that can be tightly integrated.
Admittedly, it is unhelpful that some sources often use “unified communications” and “unified messaging” interchangeably, as IT PRO notes. The truth is that unified messaging is only one possible component of UC, with many other options coming into play as well. We’ll discuss the full inclusions later in the article.
Because of the range of its applications and integrations, unified communications does constitute a broad term in itself. Other than instant messaging, UC systems can also include email, voicemail and faxes. Here, the “unified” part of the equation comes in how messages from different mediums are combined in one mailbox for ready access.
You can access this centralised mailbox either through a desktop or mobile device. The multi-device compatibility allows you to tap into a broad array of flexible features, including inbound call screening, live reply and call return. The unified nature of this communication system sheds light on how the wider arrangement of UC also works.
What does a unified communications system include?
There are varying inclusions in service packages, but basic packaged offerings often include these six components:
Phone calls are still a vital customer support channel. Many consumers still prefer reaching out to businesses through voice calls and speaking to a human being instead of an automated machine. This means you can’t let go of call-based support channels if you want to increase your customer satisfaction rates.
A UC system improves your voice call capabilities by leveraging telephony solutions and allowing you to take and make calls over the internet using smartphones, desktops, and other devices.
UC solutions integrate your email, fax and voicemail in one interfacing software. By consolidating various platforms into one inbox, you’re able to keep an eye on all inbound messages, regardless of which channel they’re coming from. This way, you can ensure that you’re not missing valuable calls from customers, leads and partners.
Presence and instant messaging
Presence is the cornerstone of unified communications. This feature lets you see the availability of whoever you want to talk to and which channel they’re currently active on. Presence capabilities make communication more convenient since you can quickly switch to whichever channel is best for conversing with someone.
The presence feature is often combined with instant messaging platforms, allowing your employees to chat remotely in real-time.
The conferencing services included in your package will vary. Most UC solutions companies use web-based teleconferencing tools, but some require you to install specialised hardware. Make sure to ask the unified communications provider about their conferencing requirements before purchasing their services.
Most systems integrate collaboration tools, like interactive whiteboards where users can share files, launch presentations and even simultaneously edit documents. These collaboration tools often come with voice call capabilities, so users can talk while working on projects together. This feature allows for more productive collaborative projects, which are essential when managing a remote workforce.
Integration is another cornerstone of UC. UC solutions can integrate various third-party applications, allowing you to customise your communications system specifically to your business needs. Some common integrations are email, customer relationship management (CRM) software and other API-based programs.
What are the advantages of UC?
Unified comms solutions offer a wealth of business advantages. Here are some of the enterprise-level benefits:
At any one time during your work hours, you may have employees who are out in the field, carrying out crucial responsibilities away from the office. In this situation, integrating your UC system with multiple devices, including your workers’ personal devices, can significantly improve your operational efficiency.
Especially now, since the pandemic, most businesses have shifted to remote work arrangements. Many have established a hybrid office-home work model permanently, because of the pandemic. UC solutions enable seamless and flexible communications capabilities necessary for maintaining productivity while managing a remote workforce.
An especially strong incentive to implementing a UC system would be scalability, making it easier for you to scale your communication infrastructure, depending on your company’s needs. As your firm recruits more workers and opens multiple sites, you can scale the system to expand your operations.
As such, UC solutions are especially beneficial for multi-location businesses, internal corporations and even companies that are only starting to expand their operations.
Furthering your business’ use of UC means having the ability to carefully select various communications methods to meet specific enterprise communication needs. While phone and email are staples of an office communications system, you could augment them by adding features like video calls and presence capabilities.
On top of these three popular advantages, UC also offers lesser-known efficiencies, such as significant cost reductions and increased operational agility.
Who can implement unified communications?
Unified communications can be customised to fit businesses of any size, given its scalability. Small businesses to large enterprises can benefit from this technology as long as they choose the right integrations and applications. We talked more about customising UC around your business needs in our blog, “How to Plan Your Unified Communications Transition.”
See below at how unified communications helps businesses of all sizes:
Enterprise communications as a service
It’s easy for communication to become fragmented in large corporations, allowing important messages and conversations to slip by key people. Through UCaaS, you can avoid that inefficiency and confusion by establishing a single communication solution. You can be sure that your voice calls, texts, emails and instant messages reach the right people instantly, eliminating miscommunication.
Another advantage for enterprises is seamless access to information. When details are spread across multiple databases, it’s difficult for your employees to find the most current information. You won’t have this kind of problem with a UC system. Your unified information database is accessible to all your employees, allowing them to retrieve the information they need as long as they have security clearance.
A UC platform is also integral to having a large-scale disaster recovery plan. It makes sure that all your employees and departments stay connected during unexpected crises.
SME unified communications
Small to medium enterprises that are looking to expand can significantly benefit from UCaaS. You’ll have the scalability to grow your customer base, allowing you to open branches in various locations easily. UCaaS is extremely valuable for businesses that manage multi-location operations, such as logistics, construction and even ride-sharing companies.
UC solutions improve not only SMBs’ internal communications but their external comms as well. Prospects and existing customers can reach you on their preferred platforms, making sure you leverage every sales or lead generation opportunity.
Unified communications for small businesses and startups
Many young businesses find it challenging to establish a communications strategy that aligns with their organisational culture. The result is inefficient communication that impedes employees’ performance and productivity. This kind of inefficiency can also get in the way of your customer service, which negatively impacts your satisfaction rates.
With a UC system, small businesses can switch to communications solutions that are time- and cost-efficient. You no longer have to waste time untangling miscommunications or struggling to contact the right people. Plus, UC technology significantly improves your customer support. It gives you the tools you need to win over new buyers and nurture your relationships with your existing customers.
Ultimately, a well-oiled unified communications system offers a wealth of benefits. It creates a technological environment that enables you to reduce costs, increase workplace efficiency and improve your customer experience. UCaaS ensures that you’re well-equipped to grow your business at the pace you want while continuing to meet the demands and expectations of your customers.
2023 promises to be a time of great opportunity for businesses looking to get the most out of their telecommunications. But knowing what is being sold and the right solution for you is key to success in a constantly evolving telecommunications marketplace.
If you’d like to learn more about Unified Communications, visit our blog for tips and best practices to maximise this technology’s benefits. For enquiries, contact us at 0333 014 0000 or fill out our online form.
General Telecoms Industry Terms
Our final section covers some other terms from the telecoms industry which haven’t already been explained in the other sections.
Inbound Call Routing
Inbound call routing is the process of directing incoming telephone calls to the appropriate recipient or department within an organisation. It helps ensure that calls are handled efficiently and effectively and that customers can reach the right person for their needs.
Think of inbound call routing as a telephone switchboard, where calls are automatically directed to the right place based on certain criteria, such as the caller’s phone number, the time of day, or the nature of the call.
For example, let’s say you’re a customer calling a company’s customer service line. With inbound call routing, the call might be automatically directed to a specific department based on the nature of your call, such as billing, technical support, or product information. The call might also be directed to the next available representative, or to a specific representative if you have an existing account.
Inbound call routing can be performed using hardware, such as a PBX system, or software, such as a cloud-based call centre platform. The goal of inbound call routing is to provide a positive customer experience by quickly connecting customers with the right person or department and reducing wait times and dropped calls.
4G refers to the fourth generation of mobile phone network technology. It offers faster data speeds and improved connectivity compared to its predecessor, 3G. This allows for a better experience when using the internet on mobile devices, such as quicker loading times for websites, smooth streaming of videos, and seamless online gaming. 4G also enables new services such as high-definition voice and video calls, mobile banking and augmented reality applications. With 4G, you can enjoy a faster and more reliable internet experience on your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop or on the go.
Omnichannel refers to a strategy that integrates communication channels and customer service touchpoints, such as voice calls, text messaging, email, chat, and social media, to create a seamless customer experience. With omnichannel in telecoms, customers can switch between different channels without losing context or having to repeat information. This allows businesses to provide personalised, fast, and convenient customer service, and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, omnichannel solutions can help enterprises improve their operations, such as reducing call centre wait times and improving call routing efficiency, by providing agents with a complete view of the customer’s interaction history and context.
VPL stands for Virtual Private LAN Service, which is a type of network service that provides businesses with a secure and dedicated network connection between multiple sites. VPL allows businesses to communicate and share data as if they were on a single, private network, even though they may be physically separated. This is achieved by using a combination of dedicated bandwidth, cyber security protocols, and virtualisation technologies.
VPL is often used by businesses that need to connect remote locations, such as branch offices, to their central network, or to connect to cloud-based services. It provides the security and reliability of a private network with the cost savings and convenience of a public network. With VPL, businesses can ensure secure and reliable communication between sites, improve collaboration, and access cloud-based services more easily.
Think of VPL as a private highway that only your company’s vehicles can use to travel between different locations. Just like a private highway, VPL offers a dedicated and secure connection that is not shared with other companies. This connection allows your company to send and receive information, just as if all your locations were connected under one roof.
For example, let’s say you have a headquarters in London and a branch office in Los Manchester. With VPL, you can have a secure and dedicated network connection between these two locations, allowing employees at both locations to access shared files, systems, and applications as if they were in the same place. This improves collaboration and reduces the time it takes for information to travel between locations, resulting in a more efficient work environment.
LLU (Local Loop Unbundling)
LLU stands for Local Loop Unbundling, which is a regulatory policy in the telecommunications industry. LLU refers to the process of allowing multiple service providers to access and use the physical infrastructure (such as the copper wires) of a local telephone network to offer their own services to customers.
LLU is designed to promote competition in the telecom market and to provide customers with more choice and better services. For example, before LLU, customers in a certain geographic area would only be able to access telephone services from the local incumbent provider. However, with LLU, multiple providers can offer services in the same area, giving customers the ability to choose from multiple options.
In practical terms, LLU allows telecom companies to offer their own broadband and telephone services over the existing local telephone network, without having to build their own infrastructure. This can lead to lower prices, better service quality, and increased competition.
Imagine you live in a neighbourhood where there’s only one grocery store, and they charge high prices for their products. Then, one day, a new grocery store opens, and they sell the same products at a lower price. This is like what LLU does in the telecom industry.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols that allows two software systems to communicate with each other. In simple terms, an API is like a waiter in a restaurant. When you make a request to the restaurant, the waiter takes your order and communicates it to the kitchen. The kitchen then prepares the food and sends it back to the waiter, who then delivers it to you. In this scenario, the waiter is the API and the kitchen is the software system.
APIs allow software systems to talk to each other and exchange information, without having to know how the other system works. This makes it easier for developers to build new applications and services, since they can use existing APIs to access information and services from other systems.
For example, when you use a weather app on your phone, the app is likely using an API provided by a weather service to retrieve the current weather information. The app sends a request to the weather service’s API, asking for the current weather conditions. The API then sends back the weather information, which the app uses to display the information to you.
APIs are widely used in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and technology, and they play a crucial role in connecting and integrating different systems, services, and devices.
Number porting is the process of transferring an existing telephone number from one service provider to another. This allows customers to keep their telephone number when switching to a new service provider, without having to notify their contacts of a new number.
For example, let’s say you have a telephone number with Provider A, and you want to switch to Provider B. With number porting, you can transfer your existing telephone number to Provider B, so that your friends, family, and business contacts can still reach you at the same number. This makes it easier for customers to switch providers without having to update all their contacts with a new number.
Number porting is a regulated process that must follow specific rules and guidelines set by the government and the telecommunications industry. The process typically involves requesting the transfer, verifying the number and ownership, and finally completing the transfer with the new service provider. The entire process usually takes a few days to complete, and customers should be aware of any potential charges or fees associated with number porting.
Cloud Mobile refers to the use of cloud computing technology for mobile devices and applications. In other words, it’s about using the internet to access and store data and applications on remote servers, rather than on a device’s local storage.
Think of Cloud Mobile as having a locker in the cloud where you can store all your important files, photos, videos, and applications, instead of having to store them on your phone or computer. You can access these files from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.
For example, let’s say you want to take a picture on your phone and share it with your friends. With Cloud Mobile, you can take the picture and instantly save it to the cloud, where it’s securely stored. You can then access the photo from any device, such as your laptop or tablet, and share it with your friends.
Cloud Mobile offers several benefits, including increased storage capacity, accessibility from any device, and automatic backups of data and applications. This makes it easier for individuals and organisations to manage and access their data and applications, regardless of where they are or what device they’re using.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it’s a technology that provides a secure and private connection over the internet. It allows you to access the internet and use online services as if you were directly connected to a private network, even if you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection or a cellular network.
Think of a VPN as a private tunnel that protects your internet connection and data, just like a real tunnel protects you from the outside world when you’re driving. When you use a VPN, your internet connection is encrypted, and all your online activities, including your browsing history and data transfers, are protected from prying eyes.
For example, let’s say you’re at a coffee shop and you want to use their Wi-Fi to access your online banking account. With a VPN, you can connect to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi and then connect to a VPN server. This creates a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the VPN server, which then connects to the internet on your behalf. All your online activities, including your login information and data transfers, are protected by the encryption provided by the VPN.
VPNs are useful for protecting your online privacy and security, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks or accessing sensitive information over the internet. They are also useful for bypassing censorship and accessing content that may be restricted in your region.
Mobile Voice and Data
We have multiple means of communication at our disposal, yet picking up the phone remains a favourable choice for businesses and customers alike.
You’ve probably spotted that the evolution of calling technology, such as unified communications and 5G, has generated a wave of mobile and voice jargon.
With 53.5 million smartphone users in the UK alone (that’s 78.9% of the population), it’s important to keep up to date with the industry.
But before we get into mobile voice, you might want to check out our 5G jargon buster further below for a quick refresher on terms such as latency, frequency and capacity.
Now, let’s break down the terminology and dial into the meaning behind mobile voice technology.
3G and Mobile voice
1G introduced the mobile and 2G upped the game with digital calling, but it couldn’t quite keep up with the millions of consumers wanting in on the mobile action.
3G is where the mobile industry really came to life. A turning point for voice, users simply popped in their SIM to make calls using a ‘true’ internet connection. It offered improved coverage due to its faster download speeds and four times faster data transfer capabilities.
Access to more dependable Wi-Fi has given customers extended reach as 3G can bypass cellular coverage. It also uses bandwidth more efficiently so more calls can be packed together. This bandwidth enables calling whether you’re nipping out on your lunch break, travelling by train, or even roaming abroad.
3G uses a combination of the 2G network and new technologies and protocols to deliver a faster data rate and improved voice quality. It opened the gateway to video conferencing, later giving us some of the first commercially used Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) applications, such as Skype.
LTE and 4G LTE
In 2008, Long Term Evolution (LTE) was created as a new mobile communication standard and a pathway towards a faster 4G service. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU-R) set a minimum speed requirement for a connection to be classed as ‘4G’. Unfortunately, these speeds weren’t yet reachable.
Connections became labelled ‘4G LTE’. This meant the device’s connection didn’t meet the ‘true 4G’ standard but was significantly faster than 3G, with higher spectral efficiency and data rates.
What does this mean for voice? LTE’s lower latency improves voice functionality, performance, and quality over the older networks. 4G LTE has become a lifesaver for businesses because it gives mobile users a much-needed boost in more locations.
Voice over LTE service is usually available over lower frequencies than 5G, which means it delivers deeper and broader coverage than the higher frequency bands. This ensures that users receive even greater access to this high-quality voice service.
Once the full 5G infrastructure is built out, LTE will be a fallback for voice connectivity in areas that experience limited 5G coverage. Your teams will rely upon this coverage to ensure they can make calls without interruption or loss of service – greatly improving their productivity and efficiency.
Our business-only mobile service Gamma Mobile, for example, is powered by Three with 4G and 5G capabilities. Users can even make calls while roaming in over 200 destinations – with no additional roaming charges at least until the end of 2022.
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) facilitates voice calls over a 4G LTE network. Its low latency enables the transmission of voice and video telephony through the internet while also supporting the use of applications – great for those businesses requiring more capacity.
Data and calls can work simultaneously and far more data can be transmitted on a 4G connection. This means that not only will you enjoy twice as fast call connections and higher voice quality – with call clarity that allows tone of voice recognition – but you can also check your emails for a project update while in a Microsoft Teams video meeting.
Businesses using the Three network are realising the benefits, with VoLTE calls jumping from 37% in 2019 to 80% in 2021. Subscriptions to VoLTE services are also expected to reach 6.4 billion by the end of 2025.
VoLTE and network frequencies
So, what happens when your chosen workspace is a trendy coffee shop in the middle of a shopping centre? Or in the centre of a multi-storey office block, surrounded by other meeting rooms?
Different network generations operate on different frequencies, like radio stations. All these frequencies are signals trying to reach your mobile.
As we’ve mentioned before, 4G and VoLTE are powered on lower frequencies, which are also better at penetrating walls. This allows your device to pick up a strong signal even if you are based in Fort Knox. 3G works on a higher frequency and isn’t as good at penetrating walls, leading to weaker signal strength.
The good news is, if even 5G can’t reach you, calls can fall back on trusty 4G VoLTE. 4G VoLTE and 5G complement each other perfectly to offer elevated calling capabilities. With Gamma Mobile’s enhanced voice services, for example, you can benefit from 99% outdoor and 98% indoor coverage.
If you’re rendered unable to make calls traditionally from your underground bunker, you could always try your Wi-Fi instead. This leads us nicely on to…
With a Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) capable device, you don’t have to rely on a wavering signal. You can make calls while connected to home broadband or another wireless internet connection.
VoWiFi and VoLTE are a match made in business-calling heaven. If your Wi-Fi disconnects, VoLTE kicks into action in its place. It also allows a user to make a call to another person, regardless of whether the recipient supports Wi-Fi calling or not.
VoLTE and VoWiFi have become essential tools for remote workers. A study by YouGov found that 61% of Brits working from home agreed that switching to mobile broadband has improved their working experience.
36% of participants admitted to regularly switching to mobile data to stay online, as more people being at home created issues sharing broadband. The two services worked in tandem, kicking in to pick up the slack when needed.
Employees are relying more and more on their mobiles to stay connected to their work. Despite the growth of video conferencing applications during countless lockdowns, voice calls remained a firm favourite. In fact, over a quarter of home workers rely on switching to their mobile phones to make calls.
The beauty of VoWiFi is that it comes at no extra cost, and you can connect to private or public Wi-Fi without the need for additional applications. Even more reason to offer your workforce an unparalleled business mobile service!
Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) is a speech audio coding standard built for VoLTE. It promotes superior mobile voice service, offering greater speech quality on calls.
This technology was developed to delay call jitter and transmission errors, so calls should connect automatically. Great news for those looking to close a deal or update a customer while working on the road.
High-Definition Voice (HD Voice) aims to reduce background noise and create clearer audio connections.
This 4G LTE-backed technology delivers better VoIP calls on a fast internet connection. It’s been around for some time, used in applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom.
Nowadays it’s prevalent in business applications as remote workers rely heavily on devices that support mobile working. HD Voice is critical in video calling applications such as Microsoft Teams, but before adoption, a business must ensure it has a strong enough internet connection and software that supports the technology.
What’s next for voice? The Shared Rural Network (SRN) project has been set up to support remote workers, with connectivity being improved on an additional sixteen thousand kilometres of UK roads and almost three hundred thousand additional premises.
In the meantime, Three UK has invested billions into its 5G rollout while upgrading 4G services to offer better indoor coverage. It’s hard to believe so much revolutionary technology can fit inside one smartphone.
Hybrid working has fast become the standard, with your employees and your customers reliant on a stable mobile connection. There has never been a better time to assess your mobile strategy.
Discover more about the SRN, 5G and all the latest business mobile trends here.
Or why not call our team to hear all the benefits of mobile voice? It’s time to get your business heard.
We can’t have a jargon blog without mentioning the newest network itself. Our 5G jargon buster is here to break down the terminology, helping you make an informed decision before you invest in this game-changing technology.
5G (in a nutshell)
5G is the fifth-generation technology for broadband mobile networks. It has already been deployed in over 300 locations in the UK, and the rollout continues. It has been predicted that 5G will have more than 1.8 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025.
5G offers greater bandwidth capability, higher download speeds and many more benefits than its predecessor – it’s the perfect step-up from 4G. You can find out more about the differences between 4G and 5G in our handy blog.
An example of 5G jargon that is known by more than just one name – capacity is often also referred to as ‘device density’. Put simply, it is the amount of traffic the network can handle at any one time.
Think about your teams working throughout the day on your business network: numerous people using their devices for voice and video calls, data transfers and collaboration – all at the same time. The more capacity, the more devices the network can handle concurrently and the better the service across your business’s multiple devices.
With 5G, you can use more devices concurrently than ever before. Great news for remote workers – 5G’s higher capacity capabilities mean your friends and family’s streaming services won’t impact the work you’re doing from your home office.
Ever been sat on a train, desperately trying to send a time-sensitive work email but the dodgy Wi-Fi connection keeps dropping it into your outbox? Or wanted to throw your phone across the room because you couldn’t load the page to join the queue for those Adele tickets in time? We feel your pain. Welcome to the world of latency.
Latency is a delay that takes place between action and response – just like the time it takes between you flipping a light switch and the light coming on. High latency means a lagging service or even loss of connection in some instances. It’s evident on those calls where you can hear your colleague, but their mouth isn’t moving in time with the words.
With 5G, latency levels are at their lowest. The delay between sending and receiving information on a device can be reduced from 200 milliseconds to under one millisecond. That means more time conversing with customers and colleagues, and less awkward frozen poses on a screen.
Measuring frequency means measuring the speed at which data is transmitted and received between devices connected to your wireless network.
In the UK alone, there are a total of 9 different frequencies used to deliver 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G mobile services. 2G, 3G and 4G services operate on low-band and mid-band spectrum (lower frequency). To deliver 5G’s faster data speeds and capacity, it operates on a high-band spectrum.
Put numerically, 5G operates at frequencies of about 28GHz and 39GHz, compared to 4G networks which use around 200MHz – 2500Mhz frequency to transfer information.
The level of frequency required also depends on location and use case. Let’s look at high-frequency spectrum and low-frequency spectrum, for example.
High-frequency has shorter wavelengths, which means faster speeds, but shorter distances. On the other hand, low-frequency has longer wavelengths – so it can travel further, but at lower speeds. Lower frequencies also penetrate buildings better, which means that for example, your indoor coverage will be better on these frequencies than on a higher one.
Device dense areas that require more speed and bandwidth will be better served by a high-frequency spectrum, while rural areas will be better off on a lower frequency as a wider area can be reached through these. For 5G to function at the best of its capabilities, a higher frequency (and higher bandwidth) is preferred.
A spectrum relates to the radio frequencies allocated for communication over airwaves. These are crucial for businesses with mobile staff.
Different bands of frequency can be created to serve different purposes, such as coverage and capacity bands.
5G requires more spectrum than 4G to deliver widespread coverage, faster speeds, connect more people and support a wider range of use cases. Enhanced video and audio quality will become the norm, improving virtual conferencing for remote workers.
It will allow employees to truly work from anywhere, be it the middle of the high street during Black Friday or from your local park at peak summertime. The connection will be just as strong and speedy due to the additional spectrums 5G runs through.
Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a given period of time. When your employees converse with your customers, they require higher amounts of data to present work, communicate plans, secure sales and maintain professionalism.
The amount of bandwidth that a business needs can depend on the size of the company, the number of employees or the types of software used. A 5G network can handle more data, allowing multiple devices to perform at their highest capacity and enabling your colleagues to collaborate seamlessly.
You might’ve experienced your browser crashing if you’ve given it too many tasks to do at once. 5G’s higher bandwidth can prevent crashes as your network won’t be as easily overloaded with requests. Running multiple applications won’t cause processes to slow down as they may do on a 4G network. 5G bandwidth delivers the level of business operation needed for our increasingly connected society.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things can facilitate how we shop, how that shop might keep track of its inventory, or even how a car can intelligently identify and convey a technical issue back to its manufacturer.
It’s a network of objects (mobile phones, computers, even a smart lightbulb) that are connected via the internet. These devices load and share data with each other to improve efficiency, productivity, and the service the device offers. It started off with just a few select devices, which is as far as 4G could push the technology.
The introduction of 5G will transform IoT technology, enabling it to potentially power the infrastructure of an entire smart city. The new network provides faster, more stable and more secure connectivity, allowing users to adopt the technology on a much broader scale.
This increase in speed and stability means devices will be able to communicate with each other and share data faster than ever before.
The IoT can enhance many aspects of our lives without us even knowing. It can improve public transport, feed into environmental initiatives, and vastly improve the way people live and work. Once these devices are running under a 5G network, the value they offer to businesses will be exponential. The sky’s – or rather, the cloud’s – the limit!
If the business you buy your solutions from has network parity with their mobile network provider, whenever the provider runs an update or enhancement, this will automatically update your business’s services.
Gamma Mobile, for example, has network parity with Three UK. Any customers using our mobile service will benefit from any updates as soon as Three UK implement them to their network.
Knowing that your business mobile network has parity through its provider means that your systems always stay up to date and that your solutions, and your teams, are getting the very most out of the best service on the market. That’s better speed, connectivity and coverage across voice and data services. Now that’s 5G jargon we can get behind.
A tricky one in the 5G jargon mix, explained easily with a classic food analogy.
Imagine your network like a huge block of solid pasta. Network slicing is the process of taking that block and creating multiple layers from it (or multiple pasta sheets) with the goal of ensuring the products or services that run on your network do so at the highest possible levels of performance. In this case, we’re making lasagne.
You’ve taken one big network and sliced it up into individual ones. All makeup part of the same block, but each can have its own function or use case. The beauty of network slicing is that it involves isolating these layers and re-directing their ‘power’ at crucial times. You could pause one layer’s power and redirect all that power to a layer that is experiencing very high levels of traffic, for example, allowing your services to function better.
Each layer can also have its own architecture, management and security settings to support its own purpose. You’re now managing your network resources efficiently. Now imagine this type of network capability with the multiple benefits of 5G powering it? It’s crucial in meeting emerging enterprise needs. You’ll just need to add sauce and cheese. Who’s hungry?
Food analogies aside we hope that by exploring this terminology in greater detail we’ve added a sprinkling of additional confidence to your decision making. One thing we can all be confident in is that, despite the level of 5G jargon, 5G performance is unrivalled. It will allow your business technology, and your people, to thrive like never before.
If you’re still not sure about the benefits of 5G or would like more information, our Gamma experts would love to hear from you. Contact us today or visit our Mobile page.