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Service FAQs -  VoIP Glossary
This is an acronym for Analog Telephone Adapter. Typical home and single-line office phones, whether corded or cordless, use analog signaling to communicate with your local telephone company’s switch. An ATA takes those analog signals and converts them into data that can be transmitted over the Internet.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be passed along a communications channel in a given period of time. Usually measured in bits-per-second, bandwidth is the capacity of your Internet connection to transmit and receive data.  Bandwidth has two directions - "upstream" for uploading data or your side of a VoIP call and "downstream" for downloading data or the other side of a VoIP call.  Upstream is almost always considerably less than downstream, and the lower of the two determines what your real network capacity is for VoIP calls, since a conversation, by definition, is a two-way exchange.  If your cable company tells you that your Internet is 2Mbps, for example, that means you have a maximum capacity (not guaranteed) of 2Mbps of downstream capacity, but you may only have 200-300Kbps of real upstream capacity at peak Internet usage times, which means you may have VoIP quality issues if you or someone else in your house is using the Internet for games or is downloading large files.
DHCP is the acronym for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, which allows the automatic assignment of IP addresses to multiple devices attached to a network. Your ISP typically uses DHCP to assign a public IP address to your DSL or cable modem, whereas your router uses DHCP to assign an internal or private IP address to each device on your home or office LAN.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL, is a type of Internet service that comes through your phone line.
A firewall is a system designed to block unwanted network traffic going in and/or out of your home or office network.
Firm Order Confirmation (FOC) Date
Firm Order Confirmation (FOC) is the finalized date for your current phone number to be transferred to VoIP service. The local carrier that is releasing the number issues this date.
Kbps, Mbps, Gbps
These are all measures of how much data a particular service or circuit can transmit over a given period of time - always a second in these cases.  The acronym "bps" stands for bits per second, and K, M and G stand for Kilo (thousand), Mega (million) and Giga (billion), respectively.  A bit is the smallest increment of digital data - a 0 or a 1 - and 8 bits make up a byte of data.  Thus 256 Kbps means 256,000 bits of information per second, which is the speed at which some slower DSL modems function.  1.5 Mbps is the speed at which a T-1 circuit functions, whereas 10M, 100M and 1G are the speeds at which Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, respectively, function.

A highest-quality VoIP call needs around 90Kbps of upstream and downstream capacity, whereas a lower-quality (like a medium-quality mobile phone call) needs 25Kbps.
Local Number Portability (LNP)
The freedom to keep your existing phone number and transfer it to different Service Providers or even to a different type of service (fixed line to mobile phones, for example) is referred to as Local Number Portability, or LNP.  Your current number can be transferred, or ported, to the VoIP service, if  available in the city where you live.  Even if you don't see your city on the list of available numbers, go ahead and check, because it may well be available.
Modem is short for Modulator/Demodulator, and is a piece of equipment that converts digital signals to analog signals and vice-versa. Modems are used to send data signals (digital) over the telephone network or the cable TV network, both of which are usually analog (thus DSL modems and cable modems). A modem modulates binary digital signals into tones that can be carried over the telephone network. At the other end, the demodulator part of the modem converts the tones back to digital binary code.
Network Address Translation (NAT)
In computer networking, network address translation (NAT, also known as network masquerading or IP-masquerading) is a technique in which the source and/or destination addresses of IP packets are rewritten as they pass through a router or firewall. It is most commonly used to enable multiple hosts on a private network to access the Internet using a single public IP address.
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, which is the most common protocol used for VoIP.
SIP Phone
This is a telephone that has an ATA built into it, so it natively sends and receives VoIP.
In telecommunications, slamming is the changing of a customer's telephone service, either local or long distance, without their knowledge or approval.  This is why either an LOA (Letter of Authorization) or a verbal TPV (Third Party Verification) is required before your current phone number can be transferred (or ported) to VoIP service.
A softphone is a software application that enables your computer to work as an IP phone.  All softphones present a dial pad on your screen that can be used to place and receive calls. For communicating, you can either use your computer’s microphone and speakers (usually not very good quality), or you can use a headset that is plugged into the headset port of your computer, or a handset that looks like a mobile phone and plugs into a USB port.
USB Handset
This is a portable phone that connects to a computer via the USB port and uses a Softphone application and the computer’s Internet connection to place and receive calls.