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ATAs 101

Bogged Down by Analog? Meet the ATA

By: Dale Briscuit

“Analog” was once the standard format for business telecommunications. All phones and other office equipment that required a dial tone were analog. Since then, businesses have moved to IP-based, or “Internet Protocol”-based, technologies. In other words, no more dial tone.

IP solutions like VoIP, or “Voice over Internet Protocol,” are revolutionizing telecommunications. Basically, VoIP is a means of talking on the telephone over the Internet, rather than talking on the phone over an analog connection. It’s a way to leverage your network’s existing infrastructure; and this IP-based format provides many more features and functions.

Maybe best of all, VoIP is increasingly becoming a more affordable solution.

Many established businesses, from enterprises to home offices, want to transition to this new IP landscape, but they’re confronted by the same problem. What to do with all of these analog devices?

Here’s where our friend, the analog telephone adapter, comes into play. Analog telephone adapters, or “ATAs” for short, traditionally are built with one FXS port and one Ethernet port. The FXS port connects to your analog device, while the Ethernet port connects to the IP environment.

Common Usage of an ATA*:

  • Analog device connected to the FXS port of the ATA, then the ATA’s Ethernet port is connected to an IP PBX.
  • Analog device connected to the FXS port of the ATA, then the ATA’s Ethernet port is connected to a hosted VoIP service.

*The analog devices in these examples could be phones, fax machines, modems or other equipment.

An ATA lets you continue to use your analog equipment with an IP PBX, VoIP service or other IP-based application.

The configurations of available ATAs will vary, but usually feature one or a few FXS ports and one Ethernet port. Models with multiple FXS ports are sometimes referred to as “gateways,” as well as an ATA. Other models also offer a FXO port, which connects to your analog service provider.

The FXO port (if the ATA has it) is often used as a failover. If the IP PBX or VoIP service is down, then the phone can connect to an available analog signal via the FXO port.

The power supply, protocol support and other options depend entirely on the ATA model. For small form factor ATAs, PoE is a common form of powering the device. Many ATAs are available with support for standard protocols like SIP and SIP-based telephony features.

An analog telephone adapter is a great device that offers a quick return of investment. Please contact IP Phone Warehouse for more questions about leveraging your analog devices with a new VoIP or IP solution.

Check out our other articles and resources for more information about ATAs and VoIP.