Provisioning, in the context of VoIP and other telecommunication, means providing service to the user. This includes the hardware, wiring, transmitting the voice & data, and especially the final configuration. Provisioning can also refer to configuring the hardware and software in order to provide service. In other words, when a device is provisioned, it works.

If you’ve seen any VoIP unboxing videos, you know that there is a period of time when a new phone is plugged in that it is booting up and connecting to the server. This is the final stage of provisioning. The other stages of provisioning happened before the phone left the provider’s warehouse: loading the operating system, configuring the software, programming the address of the provider’s switches, and, in many cases, programming the extensions and name of the user into the phone.

IP phones are designed to download the proper configuration from an external server using either HTTP or TFTP protocols. Once the server is programmed properly by an IT professional, the server can be programmed to send out a command to the IP addresses of all the phones to be provisioned, and thousands of phones can be provisioned at once.