Make those minutes count

Understanding VoIP Issues and How to Solve Them

t2-december-1Although Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers superior quality and service compared to legacy private branch exchange (PBX) systems, situations can still occur that frustrate businesses and customers. Having reliable, clear call service is necessary to maintain a professional image. Dropped or choppy communications generates a bad impression and has the power to reduce revenues.

Fortunately, by knowing the reasons for poor VoIP service, companies can solve those problems swiftly. Following are the most common causes of call quality difficulties, and solutions for eliminating them.

#1. Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Often, dropped calls and persistent sound quality issues are related to the business’s ISP. Many SMBs make the switch to VoIP in order to reduce costs, but fail to calculate the exact impact it will have on their total bandwidth consumption. Other issues include the speed or hardware used. Companies that are still using cable connections rather than fiber-optic service can suffer. Ookla offers a free speed test that can be used to determine current capacity.

Another ISP problem results from having two different providers deliver VoIP and network connectivity. Since call issues can usually be traced back to packet priority, voice transmissions are basically vying for precedence over all other types of data transmissions. So if someone in the office starts a download, call quality suffers.

Solution: Switching to a comprehensive provider that offers hosted phone service in a unified business communication service provides companies with effective packet routing.

#2. Call Interference

Crackly sounds, buzzing, fading in and out, and other disruptions make it difficult for people to communicate. This issue is generally referred to as “jitter,” which is essentially a delay in the reception of voice packets. Although the packets are transmitted in the correct order, evenly spaced, and in a continual stream, they aren’t received in the right order. Causes of jitter include network congestion, unsuitable routing, or faulty configuration.

Solution: Moving to a single provider can resolve these problems; or, companies can increase their bandwidth, place calls above all other traffic (voice receives priority), or overcome the issues by resolving hardware incompatibilities.

#3. Echoes and Delays

When the call sounds like it has been placed inside a cave, the echo heard is the result of latency issues. Voice transmission delays that are longer than 50ms can be discerned by users, and make communications extremely frustrating. This type of propagation delay is irksome, but latency is also a result of improper prioritization.

Solution: Purchasing new hardware, arranging for policy-based network management, and instituting packet prioritization can be accomplished either in-house or by contracting with a service provider.

#4. Dropped Calls and Inconsistent Quality

Companies that suffer from fluctuating VoIP quality and frequent dropped calls present an unprofessional appearance. Although quality problems can be addressed using increased bandwidth, sometimes the issues are a result of inadequate switches, routers, or service.

Solution: Choosing a provider that offers active monitoring and troubleshooting is a good start. However, companies can also check equipment configuration and look at options for simplifying their networks.

As more and more businesses move from legacy PBX to VoIP, the need for

superior service becomes clear. Contracting with a single provider offers network performance solutions that solve many call problems for the modern enterprise.

The Best Ways to Keep Track of Broadband Usage

shutterstock_328634297Regardless of whether or not a broadband user has to worry about a data cap, bandwidth management is crucial for smooth operations. Broadband clients should make sure that they don’t run into problems by overusing bandwidth, which is often caused when too many devices run on a single network at a time.

If all devices on a network run simultaneously, some of the problems users might experience include poor-quality Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and laggy video streaming, among other network issues. These problems are potentially exacerbated if businesses go over their data cap, resulting in more expenses and throttling of a connection.

Here are some of the ways that broadband clients can make sure they stay within their allotted bandwidth and get the most from their ISP’s services.

Check the Broadband Internet Connection Speed

The speed of an Internet connection has the biggest effect on streaming, particularly through services such as Amazon Video, Spotify, and Netflix. One way to make sure the speed is what it should be is to use a third-party website such as Speedtest.net, which can accurately measure Internet connection speeds. The best way to get an accurate reading is to use a device connected through cable modems or DSL instead of the router, leaving all other devices disconnected.

One thing to keep in mind is that speeds can change depending on the time of day. It’s also a good idea to test different devices on a connection to determine any variations on devices that might be experiencing performance issues.

Determine How Much Bandwidth Is Needed

The bandwidth an ISP provides in a plan is distributed among all devices used on a single network. This isn’t always easy to monitor because of the various demands of each device, some of which are more vulnerable to lag than others, including media streaming devices and VoIP phones.

The approximate ideal speed for general usage devices is 2.0Mbps, while video streaming and VoIP devices will benefit more from speeds of 5.0Mbps or higher. Depending on the number and types of devices used, clients should calculate the appropriate required bandwidth needed to run all of their devices with equal efficiency.

Monitor Usage to Find Any Bandwidth Issues

Broadband clients that experience any broadband performance issues or have reached a data cap can track all devices to determine which ones are using up the most bandwidth. There are many programs to help monitor bandwidth that are free to use on nearly any device connected to the Internet.

Distribute Bandwidth via the Router’s QoS

If a broadband client has a router with a quality of service (QoS) feature, it may be disabled without anyone realizing it. QoS is an effective way for routers to distribute bandwidth among all of the devices on a network to help make sure each performs well without using too much bandwidth. Clients can log in to their routers and determine if QoS features are enabled, and tweak their settings for maximum efficiency.

Increase Speeds Through Individual Devices

Another way to increase speeds and get the most out of available bandwidth is to connect devices to routers using an ethernet cable when possible. The reason for this is that if a device is connected to the router, it can help more evenly distribute bandwidth to other devices, requiring less time.

By taking these steps, broadband clients can get what they’re paying for with minimal frustration due to lag and other performance issues.