What are the Causes of phone Echo?

Phone echo can occur on voice over IP (VoIP) connections and become a significant cause of annoyance and difficulty. Listening to the conversation is more challenging if you also have to hear echoing in the background. Troubleshooting the problem to look for common echo causes is essential. Once you understand the most frequent causes of echo and how to fix them, you may find that your echo problems go away entirely with proactive efforts to prevent and minimize them.

In this article, we will discuss a few of the more common causes of phone echo with VoIP connections. We will briefly explain how these problems happen and how you can prevent phone echo on your own connections. After you understand how this problem works, you will have the tools to begin addressing and preventing it.

Phone Echo Causes:

  • Latency issues
  • Sidetone
  • Problems on the callee’s side of the connection

To solve these and other problems, we will help you understand how they occur in your VoIP phone calls and how you can proactively prevent many of these issues. There is no guarantee you can completely prevent phone echo, but having the tools to address the major causes of phone echo can help empower you to fix these problems with your own business communications system.

Article Contents:

  1. What Is Phone Echo?
  2. Major Echo Causes
  3. How to Prevent Phone Echo
  4. Finding the Solutions to Phone Echo Problems

In time, you can resolve your own echo problems with proactive prevention. This article will help you understand enough of phone echo causes to begin doing some of your own troubleshooting of VoIP connections.

1. What Is Phone Echo?

When you hear a second copy of the same audio shortly after speaking, what you are hearing is phone echo. On VoIP calls, this can sometimes become a common and frustrating problem. To begin resolving it, you need to understand what it is and how it can occur in your phone calls.

A traditional phone system has many different places where echo problems may occur. Problems may happen anywhere along the connection, and these connections travel the distance between the caller and callee. As such, the distance may be relatively long and many different echo sources are possible.

Because there is already a delay as it is with any VoIP call, a bit of echo can become that much more noticeable than it otherwise would be. You will need to figure out where this echo is occurring, and it could basically be happening anywhere in the link. Most likely, though, it is caused by the far-end point.

2. Major Phone Echo Causes

Phone echo could be caused by circumstances happening anywhere in the connection, so we will briefly look at the places where this can occur.

Possible Locations for VoIP Connection Echo:

  • Sidetone–You may be experiencing echo on your side when you make VoIP phone calls. This echo could actually be part of the signal from the microphone being fed back to the earpiece. It is usually not a problem, but it can sometimes contribute to echo.
  • Callee’s End–Echo can come from the callee’s side of the call, particularly if the callee is using a plain old telephone service connection (POTS) and experiencing problems with the telephone line or a bad analog phone. Cabling issues with old lines can also be a problem. Sometimes, a POTS cable is wet and causes echo issues. The callee’s handset phone might also be a problem.
  • Latency–For an echo to really become noticeable, there needs to be a significant delay between the original sound and the echo itself. So really, there must be an initial cause and also a certain amount of latency, or a delay in the transfer of information. With these two ingredients, phone echo can become bad enough to be picked up by your ears. At that point, conversation can become very difficult. When you hear the echo, what you are hearing is actually at the other end of where the latency is introduced.

Now that you know a bit more about VoIP echo, we can begin talking about how to fix it. Keep in mind that, as the Internet routes VoIP traffic travels become more congested, that will also contribute to echo and cause any amount of echo already there to become that much more pronounced.

3. How to Prevent Phone Echo

To prevent VoIP phone echo, you will need to combat the original causes, if possible. Note that, in some cases, you have little or no control over the areas of the connection where the echo is occurring. In those circumstances, there may be relatively little you can do to resolve the issue.

Phone Echo Prevention Strategies:

  • Cancellation–With echo cancellation, a mathematical calculation is used to determine which part of the signal should be eliminated to cut out the echo directly.
  • Suppression–Echo suppression uses a switch that is voice-activated to turn on signal transmission between the speaker and listener when the speaker is not actually talking. When both parties speak at the same time, however, this device may encounter problems and not function very well, so it is not necessarily the best solution for every echo problem.
  • Eliminate at the Source–You can find the echo’s source, which may be on one side or the other, and fix it directly. There may be a hardware or software fix.

Echo problems may be hard to track, so feel free to experiment a bit and be open to finding the source of the echo wherever it may be. In time, you may try multiple strategies and eventually find the source you have been looking for. Keep an open mind and try replacing handsets, connections or using different services if absolutely necessary. It may also be a problem with your Internet connection, in some cases, and your connection may be causing enough latency to worsen whatever problem was there to begin with.

4. Finding the Right Solutions to Echo Problems

Finding and solving the echo problem may require some patience. Bad echo problems can be disruptive enough to make you want to switch services or stop using your phone. These may be extreme solutions, however. Keep in mind that it can take some time to successfully find the source of your problems. In some cases, you may even be experiencing multiple echo causes. Doing what you can to reduce the likelihood of echo issues can help.

To briefly review, we will discuss the echo troubleshooting process again. First, you should try to identify where the echo is occurring. Then, try a few different methods to eliminate the echo or at least reduce it.

Additional Echo Prevention Tips:

  1. Compare calls with other VoIP devices and calls between your phone and a POTS phone number. Sometimes, infrastructure issues are to blame, and you may be able to identify this easily by comparing different connections.
  2. Borrow a different type of headset, handset or other phone. If you can, try using a softphone or switching from your softphone to another type. Something as simple as this may help you identify the source of the problem.
  3. Any new call you start and begin to hear echo noises, be sure to take notes. Do you know if the other party has a VoIP or POTS phone? What time of day did it happen? Any weather issues? Internet traffic problems? This may help you find the real cause.

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