3 Causes for Poor VoIP Call Quality and How to Fix Them
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is generally very high-quality. In fact, since access to the Internet is now much faster than when commercial VoIP services became available back in the 1990s, businesses now can get VoIP service that is higher-quality than traditional landline phone service. That said, there are factors that can interfere with the quality of your VoIP connection and cause calls to be reduced quality. When sound quality is poor, it’s frustrating and can reflect poorly on your organization to others. It’s much better to have great-sounding calls that allow you to communicate clearly and effectively.
To help you get there, we created this article. We’ll review three common causes for poor VoIP call quality and we’ll help you diagnose and treat these problems in your phone system. By the end of this piece, you should have a better understanding of how VoIP works and how you can resolve issues with your VoIP phones.
First, here are a few common issues:
These are all often very treatable problems. Even if you can’t completely eliminate them, there is often much you can do to reduce how noticeable they are and to help restore the quality of your phone calls.
- VoIP Processes
- Fixing Jitter
- Reducing Latency
- Improving Reliability
- Other Troubleshooting
When you’re finished reading, we hope you’ll also check out our other articles about setting up high-quality VoIP connections and maintaining your phone system. We’re here to help, so consider this website a resource.
1. VoIP Processes
VoIP works differently than the old wired telephones of yore. It’s an Internet-based telephone technology that relies on the digital transmission of voice data as discrete packets across Internet connections. Servers guide the traffic just like any other type of data, and this information is reassembled and transformed back into sound when the recipient receives it on the other end. Along the way, these packets are often processed separately and may arrive in a different order after traveling great distances over connections of sometimes-questionable reliability. These are common reasons for VoIP to have problems with quality.
There are a variety of different ways to address these problems, thankfully. And you’ll have to take a step-by-step approach with any problems you find. Keep in mind that there may be more than one contributing problem, so don’t be afraid to try a few different approaches whenever issues crop-up. Like any other type of Internet-based service, you must pay attention to issues like bandwidth, connection quality and networking configuration.
2. Fixing Jitter
If you’ve ever listened to a call that sounded garbled or became a confusing jumble of words, then you have likely heard jitter on your phone service line. Jitter is a peculiar type of call quality issue that impacts VoIP service. In fact, it’s the result of how data is transmitted via a VoIP service. VoIP’s use of packets means that voice calls are divided into unique, individual units. These can travel separately, as servers choose different routes to use along the Internet. Some packets inevitably arrive sooner than others. The packets arriving first do not necessarily happen earlier in the conversation, which means part of the sound is presented in a different order than it was recorded. Audio can become choppy and unrecognizable as specific words as a direct result.
To fix this, you’ll need to adjust how your network is configured. You see, many networks are older than their organizations’ use of VoIP phone service, so as a result these systems are not optimized to carry VoIP data. Because of the sensitive nature of sound files, there is a right and wrong order to present data. Many other types of data don’t have this–if you’re loading a photo onscreen at your desktop, for instance, the computer can fill-in whatever part of the file first and gradually load the detail without necessarily compromising how the information is presented. Sound is very temporal, though. It must have a higher priority.
Another fix is to set up your network to hold and buffer the sound, creating a small delay but holding the first data to arrive until the rest of the information is in place.
3. Reducing Latency
Of course, too much of a delay is definitely a bad thing. Delay sound enough, and it becomes noticeable to the human ear and sounds like an echo on the line. No one really wants echos with their phone service, so it’s important to reduce or eliminate these problems when you can. While some slight latency can be inevitable if there’s enough distance for the data to travel, this amount of latency should be unnoticeable unless it is compounded onto another source of latency.
This is a good situation for looking carefully at your connection speed and quality. Latency can be caused by a lack of bandwidth to meet the demand of the network, so it’s important to provide enough bandwidth for all the Internet activities you plan on running on the network. You may need a dedicated Internet connection for your VoIP system, or you may need to specifically reduce or change your usage for other purposes.
4. Improving Reliability
Reliability issues can be a significant problem if they occur, taking your entire phone system down for a while or causing calls to randomly fail. VoIP is usually fairly reliable, but there are always occasions where reliability may become compromised. As such, you’ll need to take precautions and begin looking for ways to assure reliability in your system.
One important step? Have a redundant Internet connection for instances when power failures, system upgrades, etc. occur and your Internet service provider (ISP) temporarily disrupts service. Since nearby construction, weather changes and other issues can impact how reliable your phone system is, it’s important to have a plan in place for managing disruptions that aren’t directly within your control. This is especially vital if your organization absolutely must have phone access to continue operations. You can also work with your VoIP vendor to find other ways to build reliability and improve uptime.
5. Other Troubleshooting
Other factors may be influencing quality. When something goes wrong, you want to know exactly how to troubleshoot your phone system. Consider taking these steps:
- Evaluate Equipment: With out-of-date or inferior equipment, any organization can quickly have serious problems with their VoIP service. You need a router that is able to handle the traffic, for instance. Double-checking equipment and keeping software and firmware updated can help ensure fewer problems.
- Protect Security: VoIP systems are like any other type of Internet-based service in the sense that they can be vulnerable to security flaws and weaknesses. Use common-sense security practices and protect passwords, use firewalls, safeguard physical access to the network, etc.
- Configure Your Network: Always check configurations and make sure you have the right settings for the VoIP phone calls you make. Decide to adapt your network to the needs of your own VoIP phone system and other uses for your Internet access.
Keep in conversation with your vendor about other ways you can troubleshoot and protect your phone system.