How To Optimize Your Network for VoIP
Getting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for your business is a winning decision for many organizations looking to save money and improve their access to phone features. With better business phone service features, you can get more done and advance your business. VoIP provides amazing features and functionality that are business-friendly and effective. For small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular, VoIP can deliver spectacular improvements to business phone systems and help improve productivity for the entire office.
- VoIP: An Internet-based phone service allowing users to connect to traditional phone networks and call any phone subscriber while saving money and gaining access to additional features and functionality. Having a great VoIP phone system often requires optimizing your network to improve access. If you encounter quality issues, optimizing your network can help you troubleshoot, too.
VoIP works differently from traditional phone service and can be more portable, provide more options, and be easy to adapt to a variety of different needs. In this article, we’ll introduce VoIP service and help you understand how you can apply it at your office and benefit the most from it. By the end, you should have a solid understanding and basic working knowledge of how to build and re-configure your business network to fit your needs and give your organization an effective and useful business phone system. With some basic preparations and strategies, you can avoid common problems and provide some simple troubleshooting of your network. If you are looking for more information about VoIP, our website offers a lot of great guidance on a variety of different phone service topics. Our website is a resource you can go back to for every aspect of shopping for and implementing VoIP service.
- What VoIP Is and How It Works
- Optimizing the Network
Keep reading for more information about VoIP, optimizing your network, and implementing your new VoIP service.
1. What VoIP Is and How It Works
VoIP is an alternative to traditional phone service that can revolutionize how your business communicates. It was offered commercially starting in the 1990s and became much more viable once Internet access became faster and was able to carry more data. With additional bandwidth available, VoIP improved significantly in quality and became a legitimate threat to traditional landline telephone service. Landline phone service relies on the use of extensive wired networks that are costly to maintain and vulnerable to environmental and physical threats. VoIP, piggy-backing off existing Internet network lines, is much easier to maintain and cheaper to operate, so VoIP service providers pass these savings along to subscribers. With the power of computers, VoIP service offers a variety of different integrations and applications that can offer businesses productivity help, advanced functionality, and much more.
Because of how VoIP works, it is necessary to optimize your network for VoIP use before trying to implement a new VoIP service. Your network may be designed primarily for web surfing, sending email and such, without being very effective for VoIP necessarily. VoIP packets need prioritization in order to ensure high quality audio.
2. Optimizing the Network
To start off with, you’ll need to think about how you use your VoIP plan and what existing network equipment and configurations you already have in place. Start by doing a quick assessment of how your business uses phones, the call volume you’re dealing with, and what you’re willing to dedicate to your phone system.
From there, it’s time to begin the process:
- Equipment: What do you already have or plan to use? If your network router isn’t up to snuff, you may struggle to get your network working to your satisfaction. An older network may not have what you’re really looking for and may lag behind when you go to start using it with VoIP calls. Power over Ethernet (PoE) may be something to decide to implement, too, as it gives your devices power directly from the Internet connection instead of using additional wiring to provide access to electricity.
- Network Use: What else are you using your network for? The configuration settings probably need to be changed if you’ve always just used your network for the usual surfing, etc.
- Data Prioritization: You have to optimize the network to prioritize VoIP call data over other types of data going through your network. Since your network is carrying different packets of data but the VoIP packets all need to travel together, it makes sense to work to prioritize VoIP so calls don’t arrive as disjointed and jumbled.
- Troubleshooting: As you implement and begin using your phone service, troubleshoot for phone call quality and other issues.
If you’re ready to start implementing a new VoIP system, try following our tips for finding, choosing and beginning a new phone service for your business. We think you may be amazed at what VoIP can help your organization do. As you go about your research, take note of what your organization needs and begin thinking about how to optimize your network accordingly.
Here’s some additional considerations:
- Higher Bandwidth: If you plan to have a lot of calls occurring simultaneously, you’ll need additional bandwidth because your VoIP system will use a substantial part of it. VoIP calls, in order to provide high quality audio, need high-speed Internet, and ideally broadband access. Any Internet service you have, if the connection is used for other things, will be sharing bandwidth. If you can, try to find the fastest Internet access available in your market. A business class connection will probably be sufficient. If you have questions about how much bandwidth your system will specifically need for the level of quality you are looking for, be sure to ask your VoIP vendor for guidance.
- Equipment: Do you want to use soft phones or hardware phones? This can influence how your network is configured, so you will need to make that decision. Some people have a preference–be sure to involve your employees and anyone regularly using the phones in your decision.
- Office Configuration: Likewise, look at how your team operates. Do your employees work remotely or onsite? Is there a lot of travel involved with your work? Configure your network accordingly. Getting a virtual private network (VPN) established can make it easier to secure a network and still allow remote workers to all connect to the same phone system easily from anywhere.
- Security: Speaking of security, VoIP is like any other Internet-based service and can be vulnerable to hacking and other online security risks. As such, you want to be sure you secure your network appropriately and keep software and equipment updated.
Throughout the process, be open to making changes and be sure to provide adequate training on using VoIP. It may even be helpful to teach some basic troubleshooting to everyone at your business who will regularly work with and use the phones. For instance, if you need to use the same connection for VoIP and other uses, it may help for your team to know that waiting to download large files and run updates until after everyone’s off the phone is probably smart. At a small business, it may make a difference in quality.