5 Causes of Poor VoIP Call Quality and How to Fix
If you’re having poor VoIP call quality, it can be incredibly frustrating and can interfere with your business operations. Get it fixed quickly with these tips and return to work faster. Don’t let VoIP problems that are easily fixed interfere too long with getting the job done! Keep reading for strategies.
In this article, we’ll look at five fixable causes you can troubleshoot in your phone system.
- How VoIP Works
- Bad Internet Connections
- Router Problems
- Improperly Configured Internal Networks
1. How VoIP Works
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses the Internet to transmit voice calls. This process largely avoids the old wiring used inside buildings and along routes to process traditional phone calls, which rely on landline connections.
While in many ways VoIP is easier to maintain and troubleshoot than traditional landline networks, VoIP is still vulnerable under certain conditions to quality problems. So many things can interfere with the call process and cause poor call quality, so it’s important to keep your phone system in good shape and have a few ways to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. Keep in mind, too, that sometimes it’s not the fault of a VoIP system itself, but problems can occur within landline-based portions of the network if calls are placed to phones along traditional connection routes. So, in other words, you do have a lot you can address but you also need to consider other portions of the network that may be outside of your control–if these are the cause, there may be very little you can do.
Training employees on how to recognize these common VoIP problems is also a good idea, too. You can get your entire team on board with identifying problems and putting in simple fixes or notifying tech support as soon as they notice an issue. Some problems are relatively easy to diagnose, while others often require more specific expertise and attention.
2. Bad Internet Connections
First of all, a bad Internet connection can cause VoIP problems by interfering with the transfer of data. Your Internet service provider (ISP) may be experiencing connectivity problems or may be unable to deliver the amount of data you need for a high-quality connection. As it turns out, VoIP can use a lot of data, particularly if you must have a large call volume happen at once or use the same connection for your VoIP calls and your other business activities simultaneously.
Since most connections also aren’t optimized for use with VoIP, you may find that your connection as-is isn’t necessarily adequate to the task. Web surfing is a greater priority for many people and represents how many businesses primarily use the Internet, so your ISP may not care too much about these issues unless you specifically bring it to their attention. Business class Internet may be the right solution to this problem, as it often has substantially better bandwidth and more options for added devices to be online at once.
Ever hear an echo on the line during a VoIP call? That’s latency. It’s the time it takes for speech to arrive and be heard, and a noticeable gap like that can compromise call quality significantly. As it turns out, there’s no one cause of latency that’s always the culprit. There are three reasons latency can occur on a call, and we’ll discuss each of them and offer possible solutions.
Here’s the three you need to watch for:
- Queuing Delays: VoIP works by sending packets of voice data through the connection. These packets are grouped together in a queue and wait to be sent. If too many packets of data are sent at the same time and the phone interface isn’t able to handle all those packets at once, an echo can be heard on the line. The congestion interferes with call quality and can cause noticeable problems.
- Propagation Delays: A propagation delay in and of itself shouldn’t be noticeable to our ears, but can compound with other issues to create sound problems. You see, fiber networks are fast, but even data traveling via fiber will experience a 70 millisecond delay if the data has to travel halfway around the world, or around 13,000 miles. Distance can present a small but still meaningful influence on sound, and until we figure out how to transport data faster than with fiber cable, we’ll probably have to deal with some propagation delays.
- Handling Delays: This is dependent on how the data is processed and transmitted. If the data’s frame is forwarded through the network, handling delays can become a problem.
To address latency, you’ll likely need to prioritize VoIP call data over other types of data packets being transmitted over the same connection. There are different ways to do this. This may also be an important reason to restrict bandwidth for specific tasks. Type of Service, Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), and Class of Service can also be used to specifically direct traffic and prioritize VoIP data properly.
Jitter is a common problem with VoIP calls, since VoIP is transmitted using packets, typically, with data traveling over Internet connections. Some packets may inevitably travel by different routes than others, arriving in a different order or even out of order completely on the other end of the conversation. This causes phone conversations that are messy, jumbled or out of order. They have noticeable sound quality problems.
To manage and prevent jitter, you may need to adjust data prioritization. Data arriving different ways and at different times only creates phone calls that are full of quality problems and noticeably-jumbled or garbled conversations. A jitter buffer can also help–this holds onto packets temporarily until they arrive, then presents them together to minimize jumbling and jittering.
5. Router Problems
A bad or out-of-date router can create havoc throughout your VoIP phone system, since good Internet access is so completely crucial to your connection. You need a router that is new enough to manage the necessary traffic. You also need to pay attention to security issues, updates, and other possible weaknesses. Bad routers are weak links in your VoIP network. Maybe your router did the job while you used it for web surfing, but now it struggles to manage VoIP traffic.
Your router needs to be able to prioritize data properly and needs to be current enough to do the job. Thankfully for many businesses, router problems are very common and a big cause of quality issues in VoIP calls. Replacing or repairing the router, or simply changing the settings on it, should fix the problem.
6. Improperly Configured Internal Networks
Many networks were not originally established to route VoIP traffic, so they need to be updated and modified. Keep in mind that VoIP is still new in many ways and isn’t always the first thought or a top priority when networks are originally created. This can cause call problems.
Re-configuring your network for VoIP traffic should help. You may, particularly if you have unique needs such as a higher degree of phone traffic, need a separate network.