Business VoIP

The truth about VoIP – dispelling the fears about voice quality

You’ve heard that VoIP can make a vast difference to your business. You know it offers more flexible, cost-effective and scalable telecommunications. So what’s worrying you? 

It’s possible you’re concerned about VoIP’s reputation. No doubt you’ve heard that VoIP is associated with a number of problems, such as jitter, latency, echo or unreliability. And you’re not alone. There’s a lot of information available telling us about problems with VoIP, and it can make organisations very nervous.

But there’s no need to be. The good news is that since these problems first appeared, VoIP technology has advanced so far that many are now redundant. A good provider will ensure that you rarely, if ever, encounter any of them and, if you do, the problems can be resolved quickly and with very little effort.

Most importantly, it’s easy to pinpoint the technical hitches that cause the most VoIP-quality problems. There are four common causes of poor VoIP quality. They are: 

1.     Your router

Chances are, if you’re experiencing a poor-quality service, your router could be to blame. That’s because some routers aren’t built to work properly with VoIP. They’re often designed to handle a single VoIP call or just data on its own, so problems can occur if you start to put several VoIP sessions through a router that doesn’t hold enough memory to process all the calls.

It’s vital to choose a good router which works well with multiple VoIP calls. It should be re-booted regularly, and you should be able to rely on your provider to help with additional adjustments such as traffic prioritisation. We provide a more comprehensive list of recommended and non-recommended routers in our VoIP trouble shooting e-book. 

2.     Lack of bandwidth

VoIP calls need lots of bandwidth. An uncompressed VoIP call has a data transfer speed of about 100 kilobits per second. It means that if you need to make 10 simultaneous VoIP calls, you need bandwidth to accommodate around 1,000 kilobits per second (or 1 megabit). You need to make sure your bandwidth accommodates both upstream and downstream traffic, because downstream traffic (from internet to user) usually requires more.

It’s also important to remember that call quality will be affected if your VoIP calls share bandwidth with data traffic on the same broadband line. This is because email, file transfers and web traffic will sneak in and steal bandwidth from other services. It means that you could be halfway through a perfectly clear VoIP call when suddenly it starts to break up because someone in your office watches a video on YouTube.

Again, these problems are all easy to resolve with simple solutions such as a second broadband line or traffic shaping. And, your provider should help you to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Our VoIP troubleshooting e-book offers lots of steps to preventing and resolving these problems.

3.     The internet connection

Your internet connection sends your voice data on a path from the phone in your office to the remote server at your service provider. This path is broken up by devices such as routers, and each section of path is called a hop. Problems can occur on any of these hops because of call congestion or even a fault on your service provider’s network.

There’s an easy way to measure the transit delays of packets of data across the network using a diagnostic tool called a traceroute. We offer more information on traceroutes and recommendations for resolving this issue in our VoIP troubleshooting e-book.

4.     The local network

A badly configured network can cause many problems with VoIP including poor audio quality. Some businesses over-complicate their networks or tighten security so much it affects the VoIP service. The supplier does not manage the local network, which can make problems more difficult to resolve. 

VoIP performs best when running over a simple network. A good supplier can offer guidance and support in configuring a simple network and by recommending the right elements of infrastructure that will improve your VoIP quality significantly. It will also provide the highest level of security for your VoIP service, giving you peace of mind that a simple network does not mean your voice calls are vulnerable.

Help is available if you experience problems with VoIP

Identifying a problem with your VoIP quality is often a process of elimination. In our VoIP troubleshooting e-book, we offer some simple steps to help you narrow down the possible culprits and identify the one that’s troubling you.

What’s important to remember is that good VoIP providers will be able to help prevent the problems in the first place, and easily resolve them if you do. Take it from me, switching to VoIP is worth it. The benefits far outweigh any small problems or adjustments you may need to make. Hostcomm has 10 years’ experience in VoIP services, and with more than 500 clients, we have the knowledge and experience to help you through.


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