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Talkin’ Tech: Unified Communications

Knowing the terms behind this technology can help you choose the right solution for your company.

Unified communications: It sounds like big business technology, but it has a lot to offer small businesses, too. Combining voice, video, email, and other communications products into a single integrated solution for real-time communication and collaboration can mean improved productivity and cost savings for your business.

True, unified communications (UC) solutions can be quite complex; there’s a lot to know and understand. In this second installment of our Talkin’ Tech series, we tackle the terms you should be familiar with when considering a UC solution for your small business.

Unified Communications Glossary

  • Email: a method for exchanging messages from a sender to one or more recipients over the Internet.
  • Fax: the transmission of a printed page between remote locations.
  • Instant messaging/chat: a service that allows two or more users to exchange interactive text messages in real time; unlike email, which queue messages on a mail server for seconds or up to minutes.
  • IP phone: a telephone that converts voice into IP data packets and vice versa for use with voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service.
  • IP telephony: often considered synonymous with VoIP, IP telephony is the technology that delivers two-way voice transmission over an IP network.
  • Presence: technology that indicates a user’s current availability (such as online, offline, or idle), his or her location, as well as contact preferences.
  • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP): a signaling protocol used by voice over IP (VoIP) to handle call connections and controls real-time multimedia communications, such as video sessions, text messaging, and IP voice sessions.
  • Short Message Service (SMS): the most common text messaging service available on cell phones and other mobile devices.
  • SIP trunking: a service that uses SIP to allow businesses to connect to the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) without the need for traditional PSTN fixed lines.
  • Softphone: a software program for making voice calls over the Internet using a computer.
  • Unified communications: integrates several different communications services, such as voice, video, instant messaging, and email, and allows them to work in real time, delivering communications to the device closest to the recipient, for example a call to a user’s desk phone routed to his or her mobile phone.
  • Unified messaging: gathers emails, voicemails, and faxes into a single inbox that can then be retrieved from any device with an Internet connection, such as a smartphone.
  • Video conferencing: allows participants in two or more locations to interact using two-way video and audio transmission at the same time.
  • Voice over IP (VoIP): often used synonymously with IP telephony, VoIP is a digital phone service that uses the Internet to deliver calls and supports the public switched telephone network (PSTN) so that calls can originate and terminate from regular telephones.
  • Web conferencing: allows participants to attend a meeting from any location using voice, video, and the Internet, and collaborate in real time.

Is there a term we didn’t include that you’d like defined? Or a technology category you’d like us to focus on in the future? Let us know!

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2 Comments.


  1. It's very interesting article, I've learned a lot of new things, which I haven't known before.

       0 likes

  2. Super ifnormiatve writing; keep it up.

       0 likes