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Definition: echo cancellation

The elimination of an echo in a two-way voice transmission. Echo is created in the telephone company's central office switch when two-wire lines from the customer are converted to four-wire lines for backbone trunks. The echo is exacerbated over longer distances and by certain kinds of network equipment. A delay of 30ms or more is noticeable, and 50ms is annoying. To eliminate it, the carriers put echo cancellers on their switch ports and in their long-distance trunks at 500 mile intervals.

Using sophisticated DSP circuits that isolate the echo and transmit a reverse frequency to cancel it, echo cancellation is also built into analog modems, speakerphones and quality sound cards. See echo suppression and noise cancellation.