Caller Ringback Tone

What Does Caller Ringback Tone Mean?

A caller ringback tone (RBT) is the sound a caller hears while waiting for a phone to be answered.


In North America, a standard caller RBT is repeated as a two-second tone with a four-second pause between tones. In other countries, like the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, it is a double ring. As mobile technology has advanced, the caller RBT term has become more synonymous with a customized RBT that replaces a standard caller RBT.

A caller RBT is also known as an answer tone, ringback tone, audible ring, callertune, call tone or connecting tone.

Techopedia Explains Caller Ringback Tone

Caller RBTs range from bites of hit songs and movie dialogues to personalized greetings. RBT content and popularity are affected by trends and events. For example, the demand for football chants and World Cup downloads are ongoing demands.

RBT services are independent of device model and are available to any mobile phone user. Unlike ring tones, which may be downloaded and stored in device memory, RBTs are stored in the service provider’s network. Caller RBT fees are approximately two-four dollars per RBT, in addition to a required monthly subscription fee. RBTs expire after a certain period but may be repurchased.

Because the process leaves little or no room for piracy, caller RBTs have produced huge revenues for mobile networks. Carriers use RBTs as profitable advertising campaign channels. A January 2011 report from Juniper Research predicts annual RBT revenue of $780 million by 2015.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…