Computer supported telecommunications applications (CSTA) refers to the standardized protocol for communication between the phone system and computer software. However, the specification only contains the transmitted data. Messages are transmitted irrespective of it and can be carried out with different media and protocols. CSTA messages can e.g. be transmitted serial, via ISDN or via TCP/IP network. Data is encoded via Basic Encoding Rules (CSTA Phase I, II and III) and via XML Encoding Rules (CSTA Phase III). Newer implementations often use only XML (Extensible Markup Language) for coding.
Nowadays almost all manufacturers of phone systems and phone system software support and implement computer supported telecommunications applications. TSAPI (Telephony Service Application Programming Interface) and TAPI (Telephony Application Programming Interface) are CSTA-based programming interfaces.
CSTA specifies both the data messages controlling the phone system through IT and vice versa. This allows desktop-based CTI applications enabling significantly more efficient use of telecommunications options to be implemented. Calls can be connected right from the computer with just a click, or faxes sent right from various computer applications. Intelligent linking of phonebook services further allows the computer to display a variety of additional details about the respective subscriber right when taking or making a call.