Essential Guide

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Unified communications technology basics

Understand UC terminology and what components make up the technology.

unified communications and collaboration

Unified communications technology is known by many names: collaborative communications, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), and information and communications technology (ICT). Unified communications is defined differently depending on the industry expert you speak to.

What was once telecommunications has evolved to encompass all forms of communication, from messaging to Web conferencing. As current technology improves and new technology enters the marketplace, the components of unified communications also develop.

This essential guide will cover everything you need to know about what makes up unified communications technology.

UC component: IPT

1. Understanding IP telephony and VoIP

Internet Protocol (IP) telephony has become a critical part of unified communications technology as enterprises move on from traditional phone service and use the Internet to deliver voice, fax and other forms of communication. IP telephony (IPT) takes advantage of the Internet to deliver phone calls. Although IP telephony (IPT) and Voice over IP (VoIP) are used interchangeably, VoIP is technically a subset of IPT. IPT takes advantage of the Internet to deliver phone calls, while VoIP is the transport mechanism used to manage voice communications over IP. The resources below explain IPT and VoIP technologies further.

  • The basics of IP telephony infrastructure

    IP telephony treats enterprise communication as a single entity rather than a group of discrete telephone systems. Learn the core functionality and architecture basics of IP telephony in this tutorial.


  • UC and IP telephony protocols and implementation

    Unified communications and IP telephony have many advantages over traditional phone systems, but enterprise IT must first understand UC and IPT protocols before implementing the technology.


  • Should you use PSTN or VoIP?

    While most enterprises use some form of VoIP, many have not fully committed to this unified communications technology. Use this feature-by-feature comparison chart to determine if your enterprise is ready to switch from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to VoIP.

    Tech Comparison

  • Which telecom solutions fit your business?

    Choosing the best telecom solution depends on your business size and operations. Learn which telecommunication solution best fits your company's needs.


UC component: Presence

2. Understanding presence in unified communications

Presence technology makes it possible to locate and identify a computing device when the user connects to the network, regardless of the device's location. It also allows users to monitor the availability or state of another user, adding ease and convenience to unified communications. Learn the basics of this unified communication technology and how presence can increase productivity within your enterprise.

UC component: Messaging

3. Understanding unified messaging

The term unified communications was ultimately derived from unified messaging. Messaging technologies include email, voicemail, faxes and instant messaging (IM). Unified messaging incorporates messaging services -- like fax and voicemail -- into a single mailbox that a user can access via email or phone. Learn the basics of unified messaging and how to find the best messaging platform for your business from our resources below.

UC component: Conferencing

4. Understanding audio, video and Web conferencing

From audio to Web to video, conferencing has evolved as newer technologies emerge. Conferencing allows for greater mobility and presence for an enterprise. Learn the fundamentals for conferencing and how to successfully deploy conferencing technologies in your enterprise.

UC definitions

5. Unified communications technology terms to know

Unified communications technology jargon is fraught with acronyms -- UC, VoIP, POTS, PBX -- yet understanding these terms is crucial to comprehending the technology. Learn to speak UC lingo using our glossary of basic unified communications terms below.