dial tone

dial tone
A metaphor for any service that provides easy, universal access to some other product or service using a variety of devices and regardless of location.
Example Citation:
"This will lead to the 'Internet dial-tone', in which connection to the Net from all manner of devices will be as automatic and simple as getting a dial-tone connection to the telephone network when we lift up a phone handset."
— Jim Higgins, "Web agents work while you live life," The Press, November 17, 1998
As the citation above shows, this metaphor is based on the humble telephone dial tone, a service that provides easy and near-universal access to the phone system, and that works with a wide variety of devices (telephones, modems, security systems, and so on).
Another "dial tone" example that hasn't quite made it out to the mainstream media, but that's making the rounds of e-book and e-publishing circles is "content dial tone":
"The amount of Internet content will grow 'tenfold' over next 3 years, IBM Vp-Global Media Mktg. Steven Canepa said, and much of growth will be in streaming audio and video. He said content would be available to 'pervasive devices,' starting with Palm units and Web-enabled phones, and extending eventually into even more exotic devices. Successful services will provide 'content dial tone, Canepa said, offering 'whatever you want, where you want it, and using the device you want to use."
— Communications Daily, April 13, 2000
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New words. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • dial tone — UK US noun [C] US COMMUNICATIONS ► DIALLING TONE(Cf. ↑dialling tone): »Pick up the receiver then wait for the dialling tone …   Financial and business terms

  • dial tone — dial tones N COUNT The dial tone is the same as the dialling tone. [AM] …   English dictionary

  • dial tone — n AmE the sound you hear when you pick up the telephone that lets you know that you can make a call British Equivalent: dialling tone …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • dial tone — dial ,tone noun count AMERICAN the sound a telephone makes when you pick it up to show that you can make a call …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • dial tone — ☆ dial tone n. a buzzing or humming sound indicating to the user of a telephone that the line is open and a number may be dialed …   English World dictionary

  • Dial tone — For the G.I. Joe character, see Dial Tone (G.I. Joe). A dial tone (known in the British Isles as a dialling tone)[1] is a telephony signal used to indicate that the telephone exchange is working, has recognized an off hook, and is ready to accept …   Wikipedia

  • dial tone — noun : a characteristic tone emitted by a dial telephone as a signal that the system is ready for dialing * * * noun, pl ⋯ tones [count] US : the sound that comes from a telephone when it is ready for a call to be made called also (Brit) dialling …   Useful english dictionary

  • dial tone — tone on a telephone receiver indicating that the system is ready for dialing …   English contemporary dictionary

  • dial tone — The sound that is on the phone line when the phone is picked up if it is ready to have an outgoing call made. Your modem, if it can dial, should understand this tone …   Dictionary of telecommunications

  • dial tone — di′al tone n. tgp a steady telephone tone indicating that the line is ready for dialing • Etymology: 1890–95 …   From formal English to slang

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