An analog telephone adapter (ATA) is a device for connecting traditional analog telephones, fax machines, and similar customer-premise devices to a digital telephone system or a voice over IP telephony network.
An ATA is often built into a small enclosure with an internal or external power adapter, an Ethernet port, one or more foreign exchange station (FXS) telephone ports. Such devices may also have a foreign exchange office (FXO) interface for providing alternative access to traditional land line telephone service. The ATA provides dial tone and other standard telephone supervisory signaling to the telephone connected to a modular jack.
The digital interface of the ATA typically consists of an Ethernet port to connect to an Internet Protocol (IP) network, but may also be a USB port for connecting the device to a personal computer.
Using such an ATA, it is possible to connect a conventional telephone to a remote VoIP server. The ATA communicates with the server using a protocol such as H.323, SIP, MGCP, SCCP or IAX, and encodes and decodes the voice signal using a voice codec such as G.711, G.729, GSM, iLBC or others. Since the ATA communicates directly with the VoIP server, it does not require a personal computer or any software such as a softphone. It uses approximately 3 to 5 watts of electricity, depending on model and brand.