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Common VoIP and Networking Terms

Updated on November 15, 2012
Understanding VoIP Terminology
Understanding VoIP Terminology

VoIP Terminology

If you're new to the VoIP world, there may be a few terms and acronyms that you're unfamiliar with. Don't worry! this quick run through of the common phraseology will get you started.

VoIP Client

A VoIP client is an application or an app that runs on your phone or computer. It acts as a front-end for the VoIP service and connects to the server allowing you to make and receive calls. Depending on the type of VoIP service you use, your client can differ. Certain services will only work with particular clients whereas others are flexible enough to give you a wide variety of options. If you use the Skype service for example, you have no choice but to download the Skype VoIP client.

VoIP Server

This is the remote computer that your VoIP client connects to. Again depending on the type of service, it may also be called an SIP proxy. It is usually identified using a URL like It can also be represented as an IP number. Certain VoIP clients need to be specifically configured with a VoIP server to which they have to connect. If you need this information, contact your VoIP service provider or check their website for instructions.


SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is the dominant standard for VoIP today. Many large providers such as Vonage for example use SIP as the backend while hiding the details from their customers for usability reasons. If you're a business and are looking for professional hosted PBX service, make sure that your service provider is 100% SIP compatible. This will allow it to interoperate with other SIP networks and reduce the danger of lock-in.


This stands for Network Address Translation. It's a kind of firewall behind which your network sits. VoIP is a P2P service. Which means that when you talk to another person your VoIP clients are directly connected without any intervening server. For this to happen, the VoIP call needs to tunnel through the NAT firewalls at both ends. There are many different types of NAT firewalls and different techniques are used to connect VoIP clients depending on your network topology.

Hosted VoIP

A hosted VoIP system is one where all the networking equipment and heavy lifting is performed by a third-party provider. As a customer, you get VoIP delivered over your Internet without any additional work at your end. You neither have to build, maintain, upgrade, or patch the VoIP infrastructure thereby allowing you to efficiently focus all your energies on your core business activities. Los Angeles PBX systems are an extremely fast-growing segment of VoIP.


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