Breaking Down VoIP Vocabulary

VoIP Phone systems are emerging as powerful and primary communication tool in the office.

They have been proven efficient-worthy and are easier to work with than traditional phones. There are a variety of VoIP Phone system service quotes to choose from and making equipment purchases can be overwhelming. Like almost any new piece of technology, unfamiliar vocabulary can certainly cause confusion and frustrating. You should take time to familiarize yourself with general and specific terms in order to communicate with phone system vendors, maintain your phone systems, and understand the rapid upgrade/changes they may encounter.

By knowing the proper language, you will have the best tailored phone and VoIP phone system for your business, beginning from the time of purchase, to years and years to come.

The Basics

AS (Autonomous System): A group of networks that share the same routing methodology.

ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter): A device used to connect traditional telephones to a high-speed modem to allow VoIP and/or fax calls over the Internet.

Broadband: An umbrella term that describes digital technology that integrates voice, high-speed data service, video demand services, and interactive delivery services with a single switch facility.

Call Detail Records: Goes beyond Called Identification and provide detailed records about the phone calls that begin, end, or pass through the exchange.

Data: A general term for information or a collection of interrelated, unique data items/records, in one or more computer files

Data Communications: The sending and receiving of data between two locations. This requires hardware and software (phones, modems, multiplexers, etc.).

Firewall: Security software that interprets, filters, and blocks or allows network pockets to pass. It is a connection from the internet and a PC/network device that may be specifically altered to allow VoIP traffic to pass.

FoIP (Fax over Internet Protocol): The Fax counterpart to VoIP that is very reliable. This component may be free or for an additional cost depending on the service provider.

IP (Internet Protocol): The way data is sent from one computer to the internet. Each Computer has its own unique IP address that identifies it from the rest.

IP Telephony (Internet Protocol telephony): A generalized term for technologies using IP to exchange voice, fax, and other means of communication.

Network: A system of computers connected by communication channels, allowing data sharing between one another.

Packet: The unit of data that is routed between the beginning and end of the internet pathway or any other packet-switched networks.

Protocol: A strictly defined procedure and message format that allow transmission communication with two systems. It is a formalized set of rules computers use to communicate.

QoS (Quality of Service): The quality of a voice call over a VoIP network.

Softphone (Software Telephone): A software program that allows you to make/receive calls over the internet. It usually provides all of the benefits of a VoIP phone and has a traditional phone pad.

Switch: A device that connect two separate paths together.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): The technology that makes phone communication Internet based. This includes a set of facilities for managing the delivery of voice information using the internet protocol.

 

The Technical

Bits per second or Bandwidth: The most commonly used measurement for data transmission. It represents the maximum data carrying of transmission for a link that can be transferred in one second.

Codec (Compression-Decompression): for VoIP, this means an algorithm that defines the rate of speed compression and quality of decompressed speech and processing power requirements. The most popular codecs is G. 7231. And G. 729. Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC): A company that is an alternative to the local telephone company and builds/operates communication networks in metropolitan areas.

Congestion: When traffic on the network goes above the network bandwidth capacity.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE): Terminating equipment provided by the telephone company. Includes modems, phones, etc.

DiffServ (Differentiated Services): A quality of service (QoS) protocol that prioritizes IP voice and data traffic to help preserve the voice quality at any time.

DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi Frequency): The type of audio signals created when pressing buttons on a touch-tone telephone.

Dynamic Jitter Buffer: Reduces any poor quality in voice sound by collecting voice packets, storing them, and shifting them in the voice processor to be evenly distributes.

E911 (Enhanced 911): An upgrade to simply dialing 911, the technology can route your cellular call to the nearest emergency station. It is a good phone feature to have, but is limited. Some VoIP services may not even offer this feature.

Gateway: A device that device that allows interface between two or more networks to connect and to communicate. It translates and connects from the Physical layer (Level 1) up through the Application layer (Level 7) of the OSI Reference model.

H.323: The standard call protocol for voice and videoconferencing over LANs, WANs, and the Internet, allowing a live stream.

Half Duplex: Similar to a walkie-talkie where only one person can talk at a time.

IEEE 802.16: Also known as WiMAX, it is a specification for fixed broadband wireless metropolitan access networks (MANs) that use point-to-multipoint architecture. 802.16 uses high bit rates when uploading/downloading from a base station up to 30miles away, that can operate VoIP, IP connectivity and TDM voice and Data.

Jitter: A variation in packet transit delay in regard to VoIP. This typically occurs with a slow network. The faster the network, the better.  ATA can help to prevent jitter.

Kbps (Kilo-bits per second): The number of one thousand bits transferred over a one second period.

KHz (Kilo-bitsHertz): The number of one thousand cycles per second of a waveform.

LAN (Local Area Network): A group of PCs and other technological devices that share a common line or wireless link. They all usually share the same single processor or server within their surrounding area.

Latency: How much time it takes for a packet of data to get from point A to point B. In regard to telephony, the lower the latency, the better the communication.

MGCP: Another protocol that competes with H.323. It controls voice gateways through IP networks.

Packet-Switching: A Communication system that chops messages into small packets for efficient way of sending messages. Each packet can follow its own path since they are specifically codded, which prevents potential transmission segment issues. It is taken apart and put together in a fraction of a second.

PBX (Private Branch Exchange): A privately owned system for communication. It routes calls from the public telephone to the internal telecommunication system.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): The Network of wires, signals, and switches that lets one telephone connect to another anywhere in the world. Some VoIP providers allow a gateway from the PSTN and vice versa.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): A less complex and more internet-and-Web-friendly version of the H.323.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): A session layer protocol that coordinates communication in a data network to ensure successful communication. It utilizes IP as the network layer protocol.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol): A high-level communication protocol that coordinates one-way transmission of data in a packet data network.

VDSL (Very High Bit Rate DSL): A Fast connection, but only works short distances.

WAN (Wide Area Network): A communication network serving separate geographical areas. This can be created by linking together two different area networks, thus exchanging information with one another.

While these is only the start of telephony related terminology, it is a great start for comprehending the foreign land of the VoIP internet world. To learn more, there are numerous blogs, videos, articles, etc. online that will inform you about other gray areas in this topic. Get educated before you shop around for a VoIP service provider so you know what you are getting and get the best out of it.

Author Bio : Tom Heppard is an innovative sales and marketing leader for Broadview Networks with expertise launching and supporting profitable product lines across all channels. Proven B2B experience in domestic and international markets. Creative thinker with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a passion employing technology to solve customers’ business objectives.

Resources:

http://www.score.org/resources/resource-nation/voip-terms-and-vocabulary

http://www.whichvoip.com/voip/voip_dictionary.htm

http://www.voip-phone-service-solutions.com/voip-definitions.html

Telnet Commands for ShoreTel Phones

I wrote a post on how to telnet into a ShoreTel phone but not much about what you can do once you’re in there. I checked around on the internet for a listing of commands you can run and what they do and the documentation is pretty scarce. I did find that ShoreTel nicely put several commands in their Maintenance guide for 11.2, and probably every maintenance manual they’ve put  out. Also some of these commands can be done through the PhoneCTL utility it talks about in section 6.4.5.

I did a telnet session into one of my phones to see what commands were available.

I copied and pasted a lot of this from the telnet output of my phone. I’ve tried to run most of these commands and commented whether it works or not. If anyone has any additions to this please use the comments or contact me form so I can add it.

This is a work in progress and I’d welcome any submissions on commands that have been discovered. If it’s something that can ruin the phone, please make note of that when you send.

ShoreTel Related Commands

These are some commands not expressly listed in the “help” system in the phone.

bootChange – This will let you enter the IP address, ShoreTel server IP and other things. It doesn’t persist any changes you make, so if you are trying to change the IP or something of a remote phone, you really should either talk a user through this or use DHCP reservations. I have a feeling the items you enter on the phone setup screen are stored in a text file somewhere on the phone.  – Updated 9/4/2012

printsysInfo – Shows a lot of system info for the phone. You can see MAC address, IP address, which FTP server it is set to download from, SNTP server information and all that here. This will show firmware versions as well.

reboot – Reboots the phone.

ping “xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx” – Pings an IP address. you need to enclose the IP address in quotes.

prtleveltabs – Prints the volume levels of the various audio outputs on the phone.

setAllCallApearanceLEDs [state] – Just for fun, you can turn on and off all the Call Appearance LEDs. State is a 0 or a 1. I did type that right, there is only 1 “p” in Apearance.  I haven’t figured out how to turn them green.

Networking Commands

Command – ShoreTel/VxWorks Documentation – My Thoughts

hostAdd “hostname”,”inetaddr” – add a host to remote host table; “inetaddr” must be in standard Internet address format e.g. “90.0.0.4” – Command works. If you don’t have a DNS server this could be somewhat useful as it adds a host and IP address combination to the phone.

hostShow – print current remote host table – Works. Shows the host table with hostname/ip address combinations. In mine I got the following output:


netDevCreate “devname”,”hostname”,protocol – create an I/O device to access files on the specified host (protocol 0=rsh, 1=ftp) – Works. This is a file access command. Not sure what use it might be.

routeAdd “destaddr”,”gateaddr” – add route to route table – Works. Adds a network route. This might can be used as a way to direct a phone to the ShoreTel server without the aid of a static route in a router. Will have to try this.

routeDelete “destaddr”,”gateaddr” – delete route from route table – Works. Removes routes added with above command.

routeShow – print current route table – Works. Shows the current routing table.


iam “usr”[,”passwd”] – specify the user name by which you will be known to remote hosts (and optional password) – Works. Probably a vxworks specific command. Not entirely sure of use.
whoami – print the current remote ID – Works. Got the output “value = 1 = 0x1”. Again might just be a VxWorks thing with no relevance to ShoreTel.
rlogin “host” – log in to a remote host;”host” can be inet address or host name in remote host table – Doesn’t work. Returns “undefined symbol”.

ifShow [“ifname”] – show info about network interfaces – Works. Shows information about the physical interfaces on the phone.

inetstatShow – show all Internet protocol sockets – Works. Shows ports and sockets the phone might be using. Could be  useful if you have firewall issues.


tcpstatShow – show statistics for TCP – Works. Shows stats on network activity.


udpstatShow – show statistics for UDP – Works. Shows UDP stats. Same as tcpstatShow, just shows UDP protocol stats instead.


ipstatShow – show statistics for IP – Works. Overall IP stats.


icmpstatShow – show statistics for ICMP – Doesn’t work, or might not have had data.

arptabShow – show a list of known ARP entries – Works. Shows ARP table.


mbufShow – show mbuf statistics

IO Commands

This looks like VxWorks file system commands. Not entirely sure that this can be used for troubleshooting purposes. I won’t comment on these as they are almost identical to DOS commands. these probably have a real potential to screw your phone up.

cd “path” – Set current working path

pwd – Print working path
ls [“wpat”[,long]] – List contents of directory
ll [“wpat”] – List contents of directory – long format
lsr [“wpat”[,long]] – Recursive list of directory contents
llr [“wpat”] – Recursive detailed list of directory
rename “old”,”new” – Change name of file
copy [“in”][,”out”] – Copy in file to out file (0 = std in/out)
cp “wpat”,”dst” – Copy many files to another dir
xcopy “wpat”,”dst” – Recursively copy files
mv “wpat”,”dst” – Move files into another directory
xdelete “wpat” – Delete a file, wildcard list or tree
attrib “path”,”attr” – Modify file attributes
xattrib “wpat”,”attr” – Recursively modify file attributes
chkdsk “device”, L, V  – Consistency check of file system
diskInit “device”  – Initialize file system on disk
diskFormat “device” – Low level and file system disk format – This seems like a bad idea.