In the past, the ability of a small to medium sized business (SMB) to expand into international markets was impeded by the exorbitant costs of international telephony. But with the roll out of general purpose data networks and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, a significant barrier to entry was removed from the international marketplace. VoIP telephony is the process of routing calls over the Internet instead of traditional phone lines. Its advantages are so compelling that even larger businesses that can afford to use traditional tech for international calls are switching to VoIP systems.
Indispensable though it may be, it’s important to realize that VoIP isn’t a perfect technology. There are some common issues that can interfere with a business’s ability to communicate. Here are three of the more frequent issues that can occur, and some simple ways to deal with them.
Unable to Connect
The ability to connect depends on the reliability of the VoIP service provider. Many of the better providers offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee, which is made possible by building in redundancy in call routing and robust failover provisioning.
For businesses already experiencing call connection issues, contacting the service provider immediately may resolve the issues. If problems persist, it may be necessary to switch providers.
For companies still looking for a service provider, it is important to ask about service level agreements and to investigate what sorts of backup provisioning are in place.
Poor Call Quality
Sometimes calls connect without any issues but with sub-standard audio quality. Even in cases where communication is still possible, low call quality can negatively affect a company’s image with clients and customers.
In most cases of consistently low call quality, the cause is insufficient bandwidth. Each concurrent call generally needs around 100kbps of bandwidth. That doesn’t sound like much, but can quickly add up as business expands. Thanks to the wealth of options available today, provisioning enough bandwidth and adding more as necessary is a relatively straightforward process.
VoIP can suffer from dropped calls more frequently than the older public switched telephone network (PTSN), but it is usually a simple fix.
Dropped calls are typically caused by excessive packet loss, and packet loss is usually caused by an overloaded network. Adding more bandwidth can often resolve these issues. Before paying more for additional bandwidth, though, it may be worth looking at the network’s quality of service (QoS) settings. QoS settings tell the network what types of data and which packets have priority. By simply setting VoIP data as a high-priority data stream, dropped call issues can often be resolved without paying an additional cent.
VoIP has made progress toward leveling the international playing field for SMBs. It is by no means perfect, but a bit of planning and preparation can help ensure that this tremendously useful technology lives up to its full potential.