Common Terminology in the Communication Industry

Updated: Feb 25

Below you will find a Glossary of terms in the communication industry that you may need to refer to every-so-often.

Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) -- AdvancedTCA

A series of specifications regarding the design elements required for next-generation carrier-grade communications equipment to determine high-speed interconnect technologies, next-generation processors, reliability, manageability and serviceability.


An information form that is represented by a continuous and smoothly varying amplitude or frequency changes over a certain range such as voice or music.

Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA)

Converts analog signals from a conventional phone into a format for transmission over an internet connection, and vice versa at the receiving end.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)

Most homes and small business users are connected to an asymmetric DSL (ADSL) line. Refer to DSL definition below for more info on DSL. ADSL divides up the available frequencies in a line on the assumption that most Internet users look at, or download, much more information than they send, or upload. Under this assumption, if the connection speed from the Internet to the user is three to four times faster than the connection from the user back to the Internet, then the user will see the most benefit (most of the time).

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

The international standard for cell relay in which multiple service types (voice, video, data) are conveyed in fixed-length (53-byte) cells.

Back Haul

Back Haul is a process of extending the use of communication facilities or more efficient circuits by using communicating routing lines that are longer than would be typical for a specific type of service. Back haul allows for cost effective sharing of facilities by either sharing network facilities (such as a switching system) or communication circuits (sharing long haul lines with many more users).

Circuit Switching

A process of connecting two points in a communications network where the path (switching points) through the network remains fixed during the operation of a communications circuit. While a circuit switched connection is in operation, the capacity of the circuit remains constant regardless of the amount of content (e.g. voice or data signals) that is transferred during the circuit connection.

CODEC (Coder/Decoder)

A device that can encode or decode a signal.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC)

A company that builds and operates communication networks in metropolitan areas and provides its customers with an alternative to the local telephone company.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)

The telephone equipment residing on a customer site.