Few weeks ago, we received a call from a prospect (now our client) explaining about the issues they are having with their hosted VoIP phone system. Their phone system had serious voice quality issues that were effecting their business and most importantly their company image. When on call with their customers, they were experiencing communication to have:
There are many causes to these issues that we want to go through in here. A VoIP communication between two phone devices must travel through a number of network / phone network appliances that each can effectively change the quality of the voice communication. After reviewing and assessment of many organizations with VoIP poor voice quality, we diagnosed that the most common cause is miss configuration of routers, gateways and firewalls. Routers designed to route the data (that can include voice) efficiently between networks.
When a call initiated, the voice will travel and pass through a number of network devices in order to reach its final destination. The final destination could be a phone device or a soft-phone: a piece of software that provides call features can run on a computer or cell phone. While there are many network devices along the way that are invisible to us and out of our reach or control, most companies have access and control over their in-house devices i.e. phone device, local switches, routers and firewalls.
With that said there are other areas that can have impact on VoIP voice quality. Below, we have summarized some of the most common VoIP voice quality problems and ways to fix them.
Network Devices Configuration
Lack of professional configuration of managed switches, routers, gateways and firewall (all in one device in some installations) sometimes is one of the most common causes of issues with VoIP voice quality. Very old routers and firewalls do not support features such as QoS, VLAN or VoIP specific features and they need to be replaced. We also recommend performing a network and VoIP ready assessment to identify any issues with existing network. If there are many wireless devices (and phones), the access points must be properly configured as well, if possible.
There are many VoIP phone manufacturers each with different feature sets, level of hardware quality and pricing. We always recommend phones from the more reputable manufacturers such as Cisco, Mitel, Avaya, Polycom, Grandstream and other well designed and tested phone handsets to avoid any hardware problems.
Make sure that the network backbone infrastructure is done professionally and there are no incorrect cable types, poor quality patch cords, improper installation that contribute to the bottlenecks, sluggishness and spottiness.
Dedicated Business Class High Speed Broadband Vs Shared Broadband
VoIP communication does not require huge bandwidth. However, if the available bandwidth does not match the network traffic volume, it will effect and queues the VoIP traffic that could cause voice quality issues. Modern routers and managed switches provide features that can prioritize the traffic based on their type and can provide higher priority for VoIP traffic all the way to ISP modems and circuits. However, the bandwidth must match the network traffic volume to have a smooth communication for all devices and avoid congestion on an outbound interface. Another issue is that a shared cable Internet would not provide guaranteed bandwidth and no bandwidth reservation vs dedicated Internet that provides full dedicated bandwidth.
VoIP Service Provider
VoIP Service Providers can troubleshoot and fix some of the issues that relates to equipment and policies at their end. However, if you have fixed issues related to all in-house devices and network configuration and still experiencing poor VoIP Voice quality issues, we recommend finding a different provider.
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