Davidoff777 - Fotolia

How to prepare for and manage VoIP call quality issues

Do you know how to maintain call quality when deploying VoIP? Get the answers to your VoIP quality concerns, from predeployment assessments to troubleshooting tools.

Voice over IP is an integral piece of any enterprise communications strategy, and it offers several benefits over traditional public switched telephone network and PBX infrastructure. VoIP can be more cost-effective than traditional premises-based telephony, and it offers more scalability and flexibility of deployments.

But organizations must consider several factors when moving from PSTN to VoIP, particularly around call quality. While VoIP has its benefits, voice quality can suffer if the network doesn't have enough bandwidth or lacks quality of service (QoS). Learn how to prevent VoIP call quality issues with the right deployment method and troubleshooting tools.

What do I need for a successful VoIP deployment?

The most important step in a VoIP deployment is ensuring your enterprise has enough bandwidth to support calls. On its own, VoIP doesn't use an excessive amount of bandwidth -- around 100 Kbps per line -- but call quality will suffer if your network is handling other high-bandwidth traffic, like video. Organizations should test bandwidth and ensure enough is available to handle the addition of VoIP traffic.

Deploying VoIP doesn't necessarily mean an enterprise needs to do away with all of the trappings of its previous system. A hybrid approach to VoIP offers the benefits of analog reliability using existing PBX infrastructure with the versatility of VoIP capabilities, including customization, scalability and advanced call features.

What causes call quality issues?

A number of factors can create VoIP call quality issues. The most common culprit behind poor voice quality is a lack of bandwidth, which causes calls to suffer from packet loss. Intentionally dropped packets are the most common type of packet loss, because intentionally dropping packets is the fastest way for a congested network to handle excess traffic. Other sources of packet loss include equipment failure and transmission errors caused by degradation and interference.

Latency and excessive jitter can also degrade VoIP call quality. If packets arrive at the receiving endpoint late or out of order, calls can experience missing or scrambled audio. Packets that are delayed due to network congestion or transcoding create latency, which will cause calls to experience echo.

How can I resolve VoIP call quality issues?

Preventing issues with call quality starts before you deploy VoIP. Performing predeployment tests is essential to spotting potential issues before rolling out VoIP, such as network congestion points or Wi-Fi coverage gaps.

Once you've deployed VoIP, enable QoS capabilities to control and manage network resources. QoS gives VoIP priority on the network, allowing it to function without competing with other traffic for bandwidth. Tools such as jitter buffers and traffic shaping mitigate packet loss, latency and jitter.

The last piece to prevent VoIP call quality issues is to pick quality hardware. Whether you purchase headsets or desktop VoIP phones, choosing a reliable hardware option goes a long way toward providing excellent call quality for your enterprise.

Dig Deeper on VoIP and IP telephony