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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.

How to Solve Some Common Problems with VoIP

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.

Dropped Calls

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.

Cloud-Based Unified Communications: A New Direction for IT Leaders

shutterstock_75581158It’s no surprise that IT leaders are exploring better ways to communicate effectively and efficiently. Communication lies at the heart of today’s collaboration-driven enterprise environment and organizations of all stripes have an ever-growing need for smooth and seamless information delivery across the corporate spectrum.

When it comes to the next generation of unified communications (UC), the cloud promises to play an expanded role in creating a more efficient and customer-centric medium for delivering agile and streamlined services.

The Cloud as a Gateway to Converged Solutions

More IT departments are paying closer attention to how end users utilize apps and features. As a result, there’s been a growing trend toward centralized UC deployments that harness the cloud’s numerous capabilities. For example, UC within the cloud can supplement or even supplant a number of non-cloud counterparts, including telephony, instant messaging, and mobile device management (MDM).

Meanwhile, the move toward service and support-oriented roles in IT has made the cloud all the more compelling within the enterprise environment. For instance, the simplified implementation features from cloud-based UC suites make it possible for tech leaders to embrace an operational expense footprint. It’s a move that could help enterprises realize improved gains in their bottom line while redefining their infrastructure.

The advent of the cloud-based UC suite is a trend that’s showing no signs of letting up anytime soon. In fact, a recent Research and Markets: Global Unified Communications Market Report predicts an increase in hosted UC deployments over a five-year period, with gains reaching as much as 14 percent CAGR by 2019.

Streamlined Delivery Methods

Cloud-based UC deployments also offer a way to utilize streamlined delivery methods, most notably the popular “as a service” method. UC as a Service (UCaaS) promises a streamlined, more agile way of offering high availability among end users. This is true whether enterprises adopt single-tenancy, multi-tenancy or hybrid approaches to app availability.

The focus on cloud-based UC deployments makes economic sense to many enterprise leaders. In addition to built-in training and support apparatuses, IT departments can afford to devote fewer resources toward purchasing and maintenance tasks. This helps tech departments free up additional resources for other major projects.

As UC and cloud developments converge, enterprises should take the opportunity to maximize their communications investments with the latest in network tools. Cloud-based UC deployments offer the perfect focal point for tech leaders to build a highly productive and collaborative environment for their workforce.