Welcome to Ted the Telephone Guy’s Glossary page.

Is there a telecom term that you would like explained? Are you curious about what a particular telephone feature does or what it is used for?

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  •  Announcement Mailbox
    This is a voice mailbox that plays a message to callers. The auto-attendant can direct people to dial a digit to reach the announcement. Typically these are used to give directions, hours of operation and similar information to callers. An announcement mailbox ensures the consistency and accuracy of the message and saves time for employees who otherwise would be giving the same message repetitively.
  •  Auto Attendant
    An automated attendant is a device that answers your phones and encourages people to dial an extension number. If the extension doesn’t answer, it routes the call to voice mail or back to the attendant. Auto attendants also allow callers to dial digits to reach departments (sales, service, etc.) or to hear announcements. An auto attendant can either be the primary attendant (all calls go first to the auto attendant) or a secondary attendant (calls go first to a live answering point and to the auto attendant when the attendant is already busy on a call.)
  • Last Number Redial
    This feature, usually a key on a telephone, re-dials the last number you called. It’s handy when you encounter a busy signal and need to keep trying the number.
  • POTS
    Plain old telephone service. The basic service providing single line telephones, telephone lines and access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). There are no “features” on POTS telephones (the ones with buttons are “2500 sets” and old rotary dial phones are “500 sets”). POTS lines have no features like call waiting or call forwarding.
  • Voice Mailbox
    Voice mail allows callers to leave a private message for an extension user when the phone is not answered live. The message is stored in a voice mailbox. The mailbox user can save the message or forward it to other mailboxes. On some systems the mailbox user can append comments to the message. Voice mail saves time and money, eliminates inaccurate messages and “telephone tag.” Available 24/7, voice mail is especially convenient for calls to and from companies in other time zones. Mailboxes can be assigned to employees or departments.
  • Voice Mail Jail
    This term describes voice mail systems that do not allow you to dial 0 or anything else to reach a human being. Once you get into the voice mail system, you can’t get out again. You have to hang up and redial the number to try to speak to a real person. Almost all systems can be programmed to not be “voice mail jail.”
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
    VoIP allows devices from various manufacturers to support voice communications over computer (packet) networks. Companies usually use a private dedicated network option because of voice quality concerns; telecommuters usually use broadband.
  • ZULU Time
    Coordinated Universal Time. Another term for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Greenwich is located on the prime meridian and is the place for which world time is measured. Zulu time is always the same worldwide. Communication network switches are typically coordinated on GMT or Zulu time. Cape Cod is GMT – 5 for Eastern Standard Time; GMT – 4 during Daylight Savings Time.