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Small business telecoms jargon buster

Clarifying some of our most-used industry terms

As a provider of phone, broadband and card payment services to small businesses, we’re often guilty of using our fair share of jargon.

So, we felt it was time to clarify some of the worst offenders:


Fibre refers to fibre broadband, and essentially, it means faster internet (in many cases, several times faster than standard broadband). The key difference between fibre broadband and standard broadband is that fibre carries data through fibre optic cables, which are far more efficient than the traditional copper ones.


ADSL is the name given to traditional internet connections that work through the copper wires of your existing phone lines. It stands for Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (hopefully that comes up in a quiz soon).

Wi-Fi – and Public Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is the technology that allows your devices – like laptops or smartphones – to connect to the internet without a wired connection. The term was coined by a branding company due to its similarity to hi-fi (remember those?).

Public Wi-Fi is simply a publicly accessible wireless internet connection that might be available through a pub, cafe or library.


VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol – and in the simplest terms, it refers to a phone service that runs over the internet, rather than a traditional phone line. Our version is called Cloud Voice.

Basically, if you ever hear the terms iPBX, VoIP or Cloud Voice, you can avoid any head scratching by simply remembering it’ a phone system.

Line Rental

Line rental is a charge given to phone and broadband providers like XLN by the Openreach, who manage phone lines. Essentially, it’ a monthly charge for maintaining the cables that carry services to your business.

Transaction rates or Merchant Service Charges

Now to the world of card payments, which gives telecoms a run for its money in the jargon stakes.

Transaction rates, sometimes referred to as Merchant Service Fees, are a percentage charge that’ applied to every card transaction you process. When it comes to transaction rates, it’ really important to have an idea of how many transactions you process every month. If you process hundreds or even thousands every week, small differences in this rate make a big difference.

To be clear, these are just one of many card processing charges you’ll receive each month.

PCI compliance

You may also have heard the term PCI – which despite sounding like something out of Line of Duty, is actually also to do with card payments. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, and PCI compliance is an industry-wide security standard that ensures card payments are processed safely and securely.

It sounds boring, but PCI compliance is a big part of why taking and making card payments has become so much safer and more secure over recent years.

For more jargon busting telecoms terms visit our jargon buster page.

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