In telecommunications, a hoot-n-holler is a dedicated "always on" connection used for two-way business-to-business voice communication. Hoot-n-holler networks evolved from a type of crude point-to-point plain old telephone system (POTS) used by small businesses with large inventories in the mid-1900's. A plumbing supply company in the 1950's, for instance, might use a full-duplex, transmit-and-receive device commonly called a "squawk box" or "shout down" to allow the front desk person to have two-way communication with the warehouse supervisor over a dedicated open phone line without having to pick up a receiver or dial a phone. Hoot-n-holler found a home at brokerage firms in the 1960's, where it became more sophisticated and grew into the speakerphone and conference-call technology many businesses use today.
Hoot-n-holler is still used extensively in the financial community to share market updates and trading orders and is also used at news agencies, weather bureaus, transportation providers, and in manufacturing work environments. According to Cisco Systems, some larger financial firms budget 2-3 million dollars a year just for distribution of their hoot-n-holler feeds to remote branch offices. Voice over IP (VoIP) hoot-n-holler is slowly gaining popularity and is being promoted as a cost-effective solution for "party-line" communication because it still allows users in a hoot-n-holler network to talk simultaneously if they want to, but also allows any idle bandwidth to be reclaimed and used by data applications.