If you experience poor call quality with VoIP phone service, the service provider may not be at fault. For example, if you’re making a VoIP to VoIP phone call connected through your service provider, much of the call isn’t routed using their network. If you are making a call to a regular landline or mobile number, the quality of the leg of the conversation controlled by the other party’s phone provider is generally not under the control of your VoIP phone service provider either. In short, there are several places along the route taken by voice data during a VoIP call where things can go wrong. Here are 10 common problems with VoIP call quality, and how best to deal with them.
1. Improperly Configured Internal Network
If your business routes both data and voice over the same network, and if the network is not properly configured for VoIP traffic, call quality can suffer. The solution is to use a VoIP-capable router that is properly configured.
Latency is the small gap of time between when a call participant speaks and the time voice data reaches the other party. The three main types of latency are queuing latency, handling latency, and propagation latency. A high-quality VoIP router and prioritizing VoIP traffic over your network can address latency, and your IT analyst should know how to do this.
The primary symptom of jitter is scrambled or poor quality audio. With VoIP phone service, voice information is divided into packets, each of which may take a different path from sender to receiver. If the packets arrive in a different order than the order in which they were sent, audio can be jumbled. You can use a jitter buffer that stores arriving packets so that they can be delivered in the right order.
4. Bad Router
Sometimes you simply have bad equipment. If your business uses its internet connection for both voice and data, you need a router that prioritizes VoIP traffic. Without a VoIP-priority router, if, for example, a user in your office downloads a large file while you’re on a call, call quality can deteriorate. A VoIP router for a small, five-user office should cost less than $500.
5. Poor Quality or Inadequate Internet Connection
Your internet service provider may be optimized for web surfing rather than VoIP phone service. The transportation of voice packets requires particular internet protocols that your internet service may not provide. However, cable and DSL high speed internet providers generally offer “business class” service that is configured for VoIP traffic.
6. Faulty Wiring from Pre-DSL Days
Your facility has a demarcation point where the public switched telephone network connects to on-premises wiring. Your demarcation point can usually be identified as a network interface box installed by the telephone network. The line that carries your DSL circuit should go from there to a DSL filter then to the DSL modem with no other devices in between. You can improve call quality by ensuring that lines are connected up properly.
7. Problems with Ethernet Switches and Hubs
If your local area network contains hubs, you can have bad call quality. You need 100BaseT Ethernet switches instead. Also, if your facility has multiple Ethernet switches for sharing single wiring drops, call quality will suffer. Ask your IT professional to eliminate superfluous devices with wireless access points to improve the quality of VoIP calls.
8. Echoes During Calls
Do you ever speak into your phone and hear your own voice a split second later? This phenomenon is very common. The fault is usually on the end of the person who isn’t hearing the echo. It can be caused by call participants who have handset volume turned up loud, or by low-quality handsets or headsets. One solution is asking the person on the other end to turn their handset volume down. To prevent others from hearing echoes, make sure you have a high quality headset or handset.
9. Crackling Sounds During Calls
Crackling is usually a hardware issue with either the handset or headset or the device’s cable. The handset or headset may have to be replaced to eliminate crackling.
10. Silence and “Robotic” Sounding Voices
If a call participant experiences periods of silence or voices that sound “robotic,” the cause is generally packet loss. It can be caused by insufficient internet bandwidth. You need around 100kbps in both directions to prevent packet loss and ensure good VoIP calls. Ensure that your internet connection has adequate bandwidth for your business’s calls and level of network usage.
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