The voice over IP (VoIP) market is poised for rapid growth, according to Digital Journal, with a predicted $140 billion market value by 2021. Why the big push for digital telecoms? Companies recognize the need for agile, on-demand communication services able to keep pace with cloud initiatives and BYOD trends. However, simply adopting VoIP services doesn’t guarantee superb call quality. Here’s a guide to tracking down and correcting top VoIP issues.
If VoIP users are complaining about messy audio, chances are you’ve got a problem with static. Luckily, this isn’t a difficult issue to solve by adopting the right quality of service (QoS) technology — often, your best bet is what’s known as a jitter buffer. Here’s how it works: Instead of sending signals over copper wiring like traditional phone networks, VoIP solutions break down conversations into small packets of data that are then sent over the Internet. If these packets arrive out of order, the result is jitter, or static. The solution is to buffer these packets when they reach their destination to ensure they’re in the proper order.
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If VoIP conversations sound like a drive-thru window, your problem is choppiness. While packet delay is part of the problem, this also occurs if networks are too busy and entire packets are lost en route to the receiver. In this case, consider prioritizing VoIP traffic over other network services to ensure you’re not losing critical conversations.
Is there a significant delay between calls made and calls received, or the time it takes for callers to hear and respond? The issue is latency. As noted by VoIP Info, this is the time it takes for speech to exit speaker’s mouth and reach the listener’s ear. While some latency is unavoidable — even fiber-optic networks include delays of 70 milliseconds when voice calls are transmitted halfway around the world — small amounts aren’t noticeable during VoIP calls. If this number doubles or triples, however, callers will notice. The solution here may rest with your Internet connection. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, call packets may get bunched on their way in and out of your network, causing latency issues. Upgrading your Internet package should help solve the issue.
If most of your VoIP complaints are about conversations coming to a sudden end, dropped calls are the likely culprit. There are two likely scenarios here. First is talk-off, which happens when human speech triggers DTMF control signals — such as the tones from keypads, which immediately end calls. The other possible problem is malfunctioning SIP session timers. These timers are designed ensure no orphan (one-sided) calls are kept alive too long. They accomplish this task by regularly sending keep-alive messages from one end of the call to the other. If these timers return a false positive, however, the result may be a dropped call. Here, resolution often rests with your VoIP provider, since it may have server-side issues or need to reconfigure your VoIP deployment.
Is your VoIP service stellar and then spotty with no rhyme or reason? You may lack strong quality of service controls. This is a common issue among smaller business that use the same data connections and routers for both regular Internet browsing and VoIP calls. The problem? If users download large files or stream high-bandwidth video, call quality suffers. Solve the issue with a VoIP-specific router — they range from $300 to $1,000 — that can prioritize VoIP traffic.
While VoIP problems have decreased significantly thanks to more sophisticated deployments, be prepared to investigate and remediate if you receive reports of static, latency, choppiness, dropped calls or overall QoS issues.
Author bio: Chris Surdenik is CEO of Call One, a Chicago-based, full-service telecommunications and technology company that specializes in helping mid-market firms with their communication technology needs.