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A quick guide to VoIP terminology

A quick guide to VoIP terminology

When helping businesses transition to a VoIP communication solution, there’s often a lot of industry jargon that tends to pop up. This can be tricky to understand, making the whole process more confusing than it needs to be. That’s why at Associated Telecom, we’ll avoid using complicated terminology wherever possible. If we find that we still need to use it, we’ll take the time to explain everything in simpler terms so that you know exactly what we mean and how it will benefit your business.

To help get you started on your VoIP journey, read on to learn about some of the most common terms that our customers regularly ask about. Once you understand these, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a communications expert in all things VoIP! 


Let’s start things off with the very service we’re talking about. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and it allows you to place and receive phone calls over the internet. This cloud-based solution gives you the freedom to stay connected through any device with an internet connection, while also offering a whole host of different features without the need for an expensive, on-site phone system.

You can learn more about this communication solution in our post, Everything you need to know about VoIP. Now that’s all cleared up, let’s take a look at some specialist VoIP terminology.

Soft client

Soft client, also known as soft phone, is a piece of software that allows you to make VoIP calls from your device. This turns your team’s personal mobile phones, computers, laptops and tablets into an office phone using their work number, extension or DDI.

One of the main benefits of using a soft client is that it offers employees freedom and flexibility without any cost on their end. If they forget their business mobile, they can download a soft client onto their personal phone and still be able to make calls from their work number. Since these calls are made over the internet, it won’t require any minutes and can be placed using 3G/4G/5G data or a Wi-Fi connection. 

Because people can use a soft client on any device, this is also a cost-effective communication solution. There’s no need to buy any specialist hardware and employees are free to use their own mobiles or other devices.

The features provided on soft client apps do vary, and while some only offer voice calls, others can also offer video calls, call transfers and even conference calls. So depending on the app you choose, this makes them a flexible and affordable solution that can suit businesses of any size.

Image features a man in smart clothing, taking a break from writing in his notebook, looking at his nearby phone.

DDI (Direct Dial In)

DDIs allow staff to use individual phone numbers without needing to rent individual lines. This means you can allocate several numbers to one phone line, saving you the cost of multiple lines. 

These additional numbers are a way of giving people a direct line to certain individuals or extensions, thus allowing them to bypass the main reception. This saves both you and your clients time, letting them reach the people they need without having to be transferred. Plus, with automatic call forwarding, your DDI can forward calls to your personal mobile phone while you’re out of the office. This leads to an all-round better customer experience.

If you’re targeting customers in different areas, then you can also use a local number as a DDI. So for example, if you’re based in London but have customers in Manchester, you can use a Manchester number routed to your London-based DDI. People prefer to do business with local companies, so having a local number can support your marketing efforts by inspiring trust in your company. You can even assign different numbers to different campaigns, letting you track just how well each one is doing.

Hunt group

VoIP systems allow you to set up ‘hunt groups’, designed to improve productivity. Essentially, a single extension number is set up on a group of multiple phones. For a regular set up, the call routes to all users in the group until a member of the group answers. If nobody answers the call, then it can be directed to other departments, a mobile phone or simply to voicemail. 

If you have a lot of calls coming in at once, then a circular set up might work best. The first phone call starts with the first phone on the list, and then goes through the group until answered. The next call then goes to the second phone, and so on. 

These are just some of the options but every business is different, so we will work with you to understand your business and find a solution that works best for you. The flexibility of VoIP also allows us to change this solution as your business grows and evolves.

Any members that are added to a hunt group can still receive direct calls that come through to their individual number. This makes them available to help clients who contact the team, while still making them available to their individual contacts. 

Images features someone holding a phone receiver in their hand, reaching to dial a number on the phone keypad.

Auto Attendant (AA)

An auto attendant is essentially a digital receptionist, providing callers with a list of options through a voice menu. These are really useful for directing calls to the correct department without using up your human resources, and they’re a common solution for speeding up call centres and customer support. 

The auto-attendant will answer the call and read out a list of services or departments with a corresponding key. The caller can then press the key on their phone which best matches the reason for their call. The call will then be automatically transferred to the correct department, streamlining the entire process, and getting them to the right department quickly.  

Busy Lamp Field (BLF)

You can set up your VoIP system to use a physical VoIP phone, also known as an IP phone. While this looks like a traditional landline handset, it works over the internet through an ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection. 

On your IP phone, you’ll notice several small lights. These lights are known as busy lamp fields (BLFs), which light up to indicate when another extension is busy on a call. They can also be configured to show you when the line is ringing or if they have a new voicemail.

This is a great feature for quickly checking who is available, allowing receptionists to transfer calls without needing to physically check if someone is free. 

Image features a close-up of a phone keypad, with a red button lit up on the phone.

Setting up your VoIP system

If you’re a business looking to transition to VoIP or update your existing phone system, then reach out to our team. We’ll talk about your current setup and how your business works to make sure this is the right solution for you. Our experts will also go through all the fabulous benefits of VoIP, giving you a clear understanding of how it can help streamline your communication for improved productivity and excellent customer service.

You can also fill out this form for a free bill analysis with no strings attached. Our team will take a look at your current communication solutions and let you know if we think there is a better solution for you, helping your business grow while saving you money. 

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