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VoIP Ready: A 5-Step Process to Prepare Your LAN for Hosted IP PBX

Is your business ready for VOIP? Follow these 5 steps to make sure.

More and more, businesses are choosing to replace outdated phone systems with IP enabled Hosted PBX IP PBX systems.  In addition to reducing the up-front costs involved in getting a new system installed, Hosted IP PBX systems can offersignificant operational benefits.  One such benefit is eliminating the need to set up and maintain separate networks for phone and data traffic.  This means you only need one set of wires and one skill set for both voice and data. 

On the other hand, real-time traffic like a voice call is a lot less forgiving of problems on your LAN than email and web browsing are, so you have to build a much better data network as a consequence of bringing the two services together.  Because poor quality voice calls can impact the quality of your customer experience, it’s important to identify and address issues before your Hosted IP PBX is installed.

Here are five of the things you should look at in that process.

1. Secure and appropriately sized, quality Internet connection

With a Hosted IP PBX, all of your voice calls will travel through your Internet connection. You need to make sure you have enough bandwidth for both these phone calls and your regular Internet traffic.  This is especially true of upload speeds.  Unlike web browsing and downloads these conversations use equal amounts of bandwidth to and from the Internet, and you need a connection that provides comparable amounts of each, such as a fiber optic connection or Ethernet over Copper.  It’s also a good idea to find a carrier that honors, or at least passes Quality of Service tags your voice provider may apply to your calls.  Even better, buy your Internet and Hosted IP PBX from one provider, so they can manage connection quality from end to end.

2. Set up Quality of Service on your network router.

Even if you have an appropriately sized connection, the chances are your internet connection will be the primary choke point for data passing to and from your network.  When the connection gets full, you can experience garbled calls.  To avoid this, your router can be configured to give voice calls priority.

3. Identify and remove possible congestion points in the LAN.

If your network seems to slow down when you save a large file or send a large print job, it’s possible that you are experiencing congestion and need to change the configuration of routers and switches on your network so that traffic flows more smoothly.

4. Update networking equipment.  

Antiquated equipment in your LAN can cause all sorts of problems.  Be sure to have a good Managed Firewall that can be configured to permit phone calls while still protecting your network.  You should also be sure that network switches are fully supported by their manufacturer, and all network hubs have been removed.

5. Get a professional network assessment. 

Even if you do all of the other things on this list, there could be problems in your network that don’t impact your email and web browsing noticeably that will wreck havoc on your Hosted IP PBX phone calls.  This includes things phenomenon like packet loss and Jitter. Many VoIP providers can test your network with equipment designed to detect these problems so that they can be addressed before you install your phone system, and get customer complaints. 

Trevor Jones is Director of Marketing and Product Development for GWI, a communications and IT services company in Northern New England.   Trevor writes regularly in the GWI Blog – follow GWI on Twiitter at @gwimaine.

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