Much has changed over the years regarding businesses and their concern over their internet bandwidth relating to their VoIP phone service. Internet providers have drastically improved the amount of bandwidth speeds in their offerings, seemingly providing ample room for VoIP to fully function. However, because VoIP calls operate over the company’s data network, there is a new set of considerations for businesses to evaluate to ensure smooth operation of all services requiring access to the internet.
VoIP calls require very little bandwidth, less than 80k of upload and download per active call. Plus, calls flip between upload and download depending on what you are doing. If you are speaking, you are uploading voice packets. When listening, you are downloading. Still, the math is easy to apply by using 80K multiplied by the maximum concurring calls you believe you will make. You then can consider this maximum upload and download requirements as a percentage of your overall bandwidth.
Understanding the VoIP call bandwidth requirement is merely one part of the equation. With the increasing amount of internet bandwidth capacity available, many businesses have taken on more and more cloud-based computing applications. Thus, when considering that VoIP may take a small fraction of the overall bandwidth, the other applications may require much more and lead to contention. When there is contention over bandwidth at any time, the quality of a VoIP call can be impacted.
Internet providers have certain settings on their devices or service provisioning that can impact the quality of VoIP services. As an example, there is a SIP-ALG feature that needs to be turned off on the modem or on-premises device for VoIP to operate correctly. Additionally, some providers who also offer VoIP services restrict VoIP traffic other than their own over their network. In some cases, it is easy to remove the restriction with a call to the provider where in others it can be difficult to get to the right group to make this adjustment.
The type of internet provisioned to the location can also impact VoIP calls. A fiber, coax, or other land-based internet is always the preferred type of internet connection for VoIP applications. Satellite-based internet has too much latency for clear VoIP calls. A fixed wireless connection can have interruption of service and is not ideal for VoIP. Hotspots for a business with multiple phones and general internet operation also can be problematic.
- Work with a VoIP provider who is hands-on during implementation. There are VoIP providers out there that do physical or supported installations who understand the network requirements and how to communicate with internet providers to make necessary changes in settings.
- Engage your IT resources on a bandwidth evaluation. Measure your current utilization of your bandwidth. Are there times you max out or do you have plenty of bandwidth to handle the maximum number of concurrent VoIP calls?
- Evaluate your cloud-based application routines for potential challengers for bandwidth availability. For example, if you use cloud-based backups of systems or application data, make sure such backups occur during non-peak hours. Also, placing a cap on the bandwidth utilization during back-ups diminishes bandwidth challenges.
- Run VoIP traffic over a separate internet connection. If there is not enough bandwidth and you can't expand the circuit, get a separate internet connection just for VoIP. You can configure the settings on your network to direct your VoIP traffic to run over the secondary circuit.
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