G.711 & Polycom SoundStation2W

As a few of you have seen, I’m new to Asterisk and PBXes. I’ve done a little looking at G.711, after seeing the statement the following statement in the Polycom SoundStation2W’s datasheet:
"Network requirements: compatible with standard PSTN and PBX networks, analog or G.711 encoded."
I don’t quite “get” what G.711 is, but the VoIP-Info Wiki on G.711 says “it is the native language of the modern digital telephone network.” Would I use this with Asterisk, or just consider it a standard FXS device on the network? We need the ability to plug in a computer to the phone, and this seems to be the best thing out there that does that (although having an IP based conference phone might be a bit better). Thoughts? Thanks!

G.711 is a codec. It is a way of taking your voice and turning it in to zero’s and one’s. It is how your phone and asterisk server “talk”.

Gotcha, so it’s just the codec that allows for communication to happen, yet to phones, it’s just standard PSTN. i.e. there’s only one way to connect one of these phones to the Asterisk server. Is that right?

Not exactly. G.711 is what is used to convert the sounds from analog (i.e. what us humans ear) to computer languauge so that the nodes can move it around (or lack of a better term). You can connect pones and phone lines in many different ways. Have a look at the book: Asterisk: The Future of Telephony h6315.com/ast_book