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Converged Communications Services Glossary

Conferencing: Real-time, two-way communications; audio-video telecommunication support of simultaneous interactions among participants. Also see Videoconferencing.

Converged communications: The coming together, or convergence, of key communications services delivered over a single network. At Northwestern, these are operated by Northwestern IT and include, 1) voice services, 2) data and video services, and 3) messaging services such as voice mail (Unified Messaging), e-mail, and secure Instant Messaging. Also see Instant Messaging.

H.323: An international suite of protocols for voice and videoconferencing over the Internet, allowing these activities on a real-time basis. Also see SIP, Internet Protocol.

Instant Messaging (IM): A form of Internet communication which involves immediate correspondence between two or more users who are all online simultaneously. IM software allows the user to send text messages over the Internet in real time. Also see Real Time.

Internet Protocol (IP): A protocol which specifies the format and addressing scheme of packets used for exchanging data over a network. Most networks combine IP with a higher-level protocol called Transport Control Protocol (TCP), which establishes a virtual connection between a destination and a source. This is referred to as TCP/IP.

Internet Telephony: Any means of transmitting voice over the Internet. This can involve special client software on a PC, or a VoIP-equipped telephone set. Also see Telephony, VoIP.

Landline: A traditional telephone line which travels through a physical, land-based medium, as distinguished from a mobile cellular network or IP network. Also see SIP, Internet Protocol.

Messaging: In telephony, any means of storing and forwarding messages. This includes voice mail (Unified Messaging) and broadcast messaging.

Presence: The indication online of a user's current availability or willingness to accept communications, such as calls or instant messages.

Protocol: A protocol is a set of rules that end points in a telecommunication connection use to communicate. Protocols exist at several levels in a telecommunication connection.

Public switched telephone network (PSTN): The commonly-known telephone network. PSTN includes mobile as well as fixed telephone lines. Also see Landline.

Real-time: Communications wherein perceptible delays between the sender and receiver are minimal and easily tolerated are considered to take place in real-time. Regular telephone calls are real-time; voice messaging is not.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): A signaling protocol for Internet conferencing, telephony, presence, events notification and instant messaging. SIP can establish sessions for features such as audio/videoconferencing and call forwarding to be deployed over IP networks, enabling service providers to integrate basic IP telephony with Web, e-mail, and other services. Also see Internet Protocol, Telephony.

Soft Client: Software that gives the user the ability to make and receive calls over the Internet using a computer and a headset. A soft phone's interface can look like a traditional phone dial pad or like an IM client. Also see Hard Client, Instant Messaging.

TDM (Time-division multiplexed) phone: A standard desktop (non-VoIP) phone. See also VoIP.

Telephony: The process of converting or transmitting voice or other signals over a distance, and then re-converting them to an audible sound at the far end.

Videoconferencing: The use of communication technologies to allow two or more people to see and hear one another in full motion video while in different locations.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): With VoIP, data and voice information can be transmitted over a single IP line. At Northwestern, SIP, the predominant industry standard protocol for this type of technology, will be used for the deployment of VoIP on both campuses. See also Internet Protocol, SIP.

VoIP Telephone Set: An Internet Protocol (IP) phone that plugs into an Internet connection, allowing the user to make and receive VoIP calls. Also see Internet Protocol, VoIP.

Last Updated: 28 March 2017

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