Beginner’s Guide to VoIP Call Quality & VoIP Troubleshooting

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VoIP Call Quality

There’s a good chance your business is already using VoIP phone service. If not, you should be for the VoIP call quality alone but there is more.

In 2017, an estimated 37% of businesses were already using VoIP, and this number is growing fast. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s so good about VoIP phone service and VoIP call quality?

So. Many. Things. Here are just a few.

Save big money

    • No more individual phone lines. This translates to huge savings on monthly phone bills.
    • Remote workforce. Real estate and overhead costs are reduced with remote workers.
    • Maintenance costs. VoIP doesn’t work like a traditional phone system. There’s less hardware maintenance required. And when there is a problem VoIP troubleshooting can often be handled remotely, without a pricey service call.

Portability and accessibility

    • If you’ve got an internet connection, you can use your VoIP phone. Your number follows you, so there’s no need to give clients your personal cell or home phone numbers. Whether you’re at home, in an airport, or at Starbucks, you can make and receive calls.

Call quality

    • With a strong internet connection and great bandwidth, VoIP calls sound as good – or better – than traditional phones.

Flexibility

    • Hiring a bunch of short-term contractors to make calls? No problem. VoIP systems allow you to add unlimited users. Your only limitation is network bandwidth.

Video calls and conferencing

    • Video capability is already part of VoIP. No add-on services or tech required. Get to know your remote staff better or chat with your newest client face to (video) face.

These are all great features of Voice over IP service. But what about the users, your employees?

Imagine a world where your staff could move freely around your office.

They’re doing video training in a conference room or closing a deal in the lounge. They’re not chained to a desk and a bulky handset.

The guy with a sore throat can go home and finish his day there. He can take his work, and his phone, with him.

Call center leaders can easily monitor queues and call traffic. And they’ll have the freedom to do it from the office or their couch.

Gone are the days of convoluted call and queue routing maintenance. Your leaders can handle queue setup and call routing all by themselves. There’s no need to hire someone for complicated programming.

You can set new, lofty key performance indicators. Those KPIs will be no problem. Your team has the tools and flexibility to give your customers excellent phone service.

But can I trust VoIP service?

The short answer is yes The great thing about VoIP? It’s not new – And that’s a good thing.

Every time Apple releases a new iPhone I hear people say, “I’ll buy it in a few months. You know, once they’ve worked all the bugs out.” I usually roll my eyes when they say it, but they’re not entirely wrong.

VoIP was born in 1995, making the idea of unified communications a reality. It started as a simple software that allowed two computers to connect their users through the computer’s speakers. The interface was clunky, and its functionality was limited. But the technology was alive and growing.

By the time VoIP became widespread in the mid-2000s, the functionality had expanded. Calls were clearer, the software was flexible, and things like voicemail and video chat were added. The bugs were long gone. And so were the office closets packed with landline cables.

So, what are the VoIP issues?

You can count the common VoIP problems on one hand. VoIP problems are easy to troubleshoot with a VoIP call connection test. And because this is proven technology, they’re usually straightforward to fix.

Issue #1: Jitter

What is jitter?

Remember the data packets I told you about earlier? Well, there are a ton of them flying around the internet. In a perfect world, every data packet would reach the correct destination in the correct order. In reality, that doesn’t always happen.

Jitter happens when a data packet is delivered late. There are multiple paths a data packet can take through the interwebs. Not all packets take the same path. They’re not linked together like a train on a track. It’s more like a bunch of individual train cars on different tracks working to get to the same place in the right order.

How does jitter affect my call?

If there’s a lot of jitter, your VoIP quality can suffer. Pieces of missing audio can make your call sound garbled or jumbled. You could end up sounding like a cyborg, which is cool but probably not good when you’re on a work call.

A certain amount of jitter is considered standard. It’s usually so slight, your call quality doesn’t suffer at all. There are certain levels of jitter that are expected and acceptable.

Can it be fixed?

The first step in troubleshooting jitter is checking the network. Like anything else that relies on the internet, VoIP quality needs a good connection. We’ll talk about that more a little later.

The next step in troubleshooting is considering a jitter buffer.

A jitter buffer is an area where data packets are collected and stored, then sent out in regular intervals. The jitter buffer should keep data packets moving along in a regular, orderly fashion. This keeps your VoIP call quality where you want it to be.

What is latency?

Latency is lag or delay. It’s the lag time between a caller speaking into their phone and the person on the other end hearing the audio.

Latency causes calls to sound echoed. Severe latency can cause users to speak over one another because there’s a delay in hearing the other person. Latency doesn’t affect the quality of the audio itself, but the ability for callers to communicate clearly.

Effective Latency

Because latency and jitter are related, they’re measured together. The metric is called effective latency.

It’s measured using these figures:

  • Amount of latency in milliseconds
  • Amount of jitter in milliseconds
  • 10.0 – This is the amount of time allowed for the device to compress/decompress the data

So how much latency is acceptable?

The general rule is 250 milliseconds, on the high end.

But this is subjective. An international call is bound to have more latency than a call across town. Users typically know and accept this. You wouldn’t end a call to Sri Lanka because of a little lag. But you might hang up if there’s lag when you’re talking to someone in your building.

Can it be fixed?

Latency can be caused by a few different issues. Troubleshooting can track these down pretty quickly. In many cases, it’s caused by network congestion.

Congestion across the network not only causes latency but can also contribute to jitter. Prioritizing VoIP data across your network can greatly reduce this.

A high-quality VoIP router can get those data packets moving the way they should. A great router can reduce all manner of problems with VoIP phone systems.

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