What Is Telephony, Exactly?


what_is_telephony.jpgTelephones for business are more complicated than the phone you have at home (that is if you still have a land line at home) – there’s a little more to it than just plugging the phone cord into the wall, the phone rings, you answer.

In the office, you need more equipment: the right amount of bandwidth so your calls are clear (if you’re using voice over IP), call routing, messaging, even emailing messages to users – once you have over a handful of phones, it starts to get a little complicated.

The industry lingo for these complicated office phone systems is telecommunications, though telephony is becoming the more commonly used phrase.

Clear as mud, right?

What Is Telephony?

Let’s start with a couple of technical definitions.

According to Techopedia, telephony is defined as:

“A technology which allows voice and/or interactive communication between two points through the usage of appropriate equipment. Analog sound signals are translated into electrical signals after a communication request is initiated. These electrical signals are converted back to analog sound signals once received at the destination.”

TechTarget defines telephony similarly:

“Telephony is the technology associated with the electronic transmission of voice, fax, or other information between distant parties using systems historically associated with the telephone, a handheld device containing both a speaker or transmitter and a receiver. With the arrival of computers and the transmittal of digital information over telephone systems and the use of radio to transmit telephone signals, the distinction between telephony and telecommunication has become difficult to make.”

Make sense yet?

A Simple Telephony Definition

Technical definitions can be frustrating and leave you thinking, “In English please!” – we get that, we’ve all been there. So hopefully this definition gives you a better grasp on the concept.

The term – in its broadest sense – is a technology that encompasses phone communication, Internet calling, mobile communication, faxing, voicemail, and even video conferencing, allowing people to have long distance voice communication on a range of devices.

Basically, the term is used frequently to refer to computer hardware and software that performs functions traditionally performed by telephone equipment. It’s the channeling of voice calls and voice data through IP networks.

Related Terms

There are terms that directly relate to telephony that could cause confusion. So, without going into too much detail, here are a couple brief definitions of terms that fall under the umbrella of telephony.

IP or Internet Telephony:

This is the latest terminology related to data/voice communication. It uses the Internet as a medium of communication – meaning data communication in which voice, fax, or digital information is transmitted over the Internet. And offers key features like: unlimited voice mail, ability to send email and other data, text chat, video calls, low-cost land line and cellular calls, low-cost fax transmissions, and the ability to block unwanted calls.

Voice over IP (VoIP):

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is basically phone service for the Internet. Instead of going through a phone company, your phone service is delivered through the Internet. IP and VoIP are often times interchanged, but technically they are not the same thing.

Still clear as mud?

Hopefully not. Hopefully you’ve gained a decent understanding of what telephony actually is. But maybe it’s still not quite crystal clear and you have more questions, let us know – we’d love to help.


About The Author

Dave Quint, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Inc. and past president of BTA Mid-America. Dave has worked with copiers, MFPs, scanners, and document workflow software since joining Advanced Systems as a sales associate in 1989. His favorite part of the job -- “there is no greater joy than to see the positive impact these solutions have in our client’s businesses.’ You press print, we take care of the rest. Contact us for more information >>