Why VoIP Network Performance Matters

Vernon Keenan | September 12th, 2015

Do you ever hear something weird on your digital phone, like it’s coming from a 1980’s sci-fi movie? Do people on the other end of the phone sound like they are at the “bottom of a well, underwater or bubbly?”

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These are the telltale signs of poor VoIP network performance, and they spell trouble for businesses going with VoIP technology to save money. The technical names for these digital sound artifacts are audio stream packet loss, jitter, and dropouts. When packet loss happens on an important conference call, it’s easy to yearn for the olden days when every phone had its own solid copper connection back to the Telephone Company Office.

But, we really don’t want to go back to the analog days. Then you can’t have your VoIP smartphone app and all the cloud goodness that comes from putting your phone system in the sky. Nevertheless, if you’re a VoIP user who depends on a solid Internet connection, you don’t have to suffer from packet loss and jitter. There are proven techniques to make your digital phone system work perfectly 99.99% of the time.

Don’t Over-Provision

Before making any promises we intend to keep, we have to start with observing the laws of physics and determine whether having VoIP lines at a particular location is even feasible. You can’t stuff too many packets into a pipe with a limited size, so you must pay close attention to the basic calculus of the maximum number of lines allowed based on your Internet speed, the quality of your voice encoding, and the total number of computer users at a site. At Telnexus, we believe the minimum level of Internet service for a single business VoIP line is 6 Mbps of download speed and 1 Mbps of upload capacity.

It is all about the Speed

Using the fastest Internet package you can afford is by far the most important part of building a rock-solid VoIP solution. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have a number of winners and losers when supporting larger VoIP deployments. In the East Bay especially, we have found that AT&T Uverse and business DSL services support VoIP much worse than when compared to Comcast Business Internet and Telnexus Wireless Internet services.

Just having one fast Internet package isn’t enough, though. Every Internet Service Provider (ISP) has a bad day now and then, and you need to be prepared with a backup Internet service. You can bond together you primary and backup ISPs to really turbocharge your network.

You Need QoS in Your Gateway

You never know when everyone in the office is going to look at that new cat video, or when your backup service is going to fire off and starts clogging up the connection. To keep your voice calls clear, you need to do something about any network congestion that originates from within your own network. Being able to accurately prioritize voice traffic is something that most consumer-grade router cannot do. Using a high-quality VoIP-certified Internet gateway frequently addresses the problems of jitter and dropouts caused by network congestion.

A high-quality VoIP-certified router like the Cisco Meraki MX64 Security Appliance will dedicate a portion of your bandwidth to just voice. This is using a network management technique called Quality of Service (QoS), where certain types of data packets get assigned a certain priority. When those congestion events crop up and want to choke your voice stream, the router will act like a traffic cop and stop the “less important” data.

At Telnexus, we really like those Cisco Meraki appliances because they allow us to really get to the heart of any problem that may arise quickly. In fact, we think the Meraki Internet gateways are so versatile and powerful they are like having a little miniature IT guy living right in your network at all times, ready to spring into action when needed.

You Don’t Have To Suffer

One of the worst parts of the VoIP industry is the high rate of churn, or dissatisfied customers who cancel their accounts and move on to another service. At Telnexus we think we know why. VoIP users frequently approach a project in a DIY manner and don’t necessarily pay attention to how critical VoIP network performance is to making the phone the transparent business tool it should be!

There are just a few guidelines you can follow to avoid a self-inflicted wound in your efforts to get all the features and benefits from moving your phone system into the cloud.

  • Before committing to a VoIP project, make sure can get enough Internet bandwidth to support every possible simultaneous conversation and support every other Internet user’s demand on the network.
  • Get a backup Internet connection
  • Use a quality Internet gateway that supports protocol-level traffic prioritization, also known as Quality of Service or QoS. You router also needs “Dual WAN” support to handle multiple Internet connections. Telnexus recommends the Cisco Meraki series of security appliances.

Telnexus Can Help

Telnexus is expert at cleaning up VoIP installations that experience the problems of jitter and dropout. We check everything in the network, right down to the wires and switches, and get to the bottom of any VoIP network performance issues that originate from your network. Our online PBX service, the Telnexus Cloud PBX, also has some technical features that control other annoyances like poor echo cancellation, ghost calls or the wrong extensions ringing. We deliver Internet, telephone and IT services from a single source, so you can be assured there will be no finger pointing when it comes to resolving problems.

Call For a Free Evaluation Today

Give us a call today at (510) 859-7000 or email at info@telnexus.com for a free complimentary hour of IT and network consulting to get to the root of your voice problems.