Before you invest in using VoIP you must look at your network equipment and in particular your router where you need to ensure that you have Quality of Service (QoS).
This ensures your hardware is prepared to prioritise voice traffic over other data transmissions, including Internet usage and streaming.
Without QoS, you could run the risk of equal prioritisation given to other data traffic and as such when your broadband usage peaks you may find that you encounter issues such as poor call quality or calls dropping out completely - which is linked to packet loss.
For most businesses, phone communications are a critical tool and as a result VoIP QoS prioritisation is a must-have for any router.
How QoS Impacts Your VoIP Calls
Networks are capable of using a protocol named Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritise important traffic types. With an un-managed switch (typically, a consumer-class switch) all network traffic is sent as it is received - whereby no differentiation or fragmentation is assigned to types of traffic or traffic order.
This means that as one person is sending a large video file over your network or server, then they will be using up a large portion of the available bandwidth for that application.
In turn this could starve out other applications, in particular VoIP! If someone later picks up the phone to make a call, this call (your voice traffic) will also be transmitted on the same network pipe as the video file and could result in poor call quality.
How to Prioritise Voice Traffic
This is when QoS comes in and helps. In an un-managed network, the video traffic and voice traffic will interfere with each other, competing for bandwidth. This is why voice calls will sometimes sound great, and why at other times they sometimes sound terrible.
When voice quality fluctuates like this, installing QoS-capable switches and routers are the most important first steps to fixing the problem.
With managed switches, your VoIP platform can tell the network that it is trying to transmit highly important voice data, which will be tagged with special QoS markings.
If the network supports it, the voice traffic will then take priority over the data traffic. This may slow the data transfer down, but at least this will greatly improve the quality of sound during your call.
Your networking equipment can affect voice quality.
The type of networking equipment you are using is critical to having a good quality phone conversation.
Businesses with fewer employees will have an easier job of choosing network equipment and can shop based on price rather than robust processing and management capabilities because they have fewer networking requirements.
However, if you have many active computer users, all of which are sending and receiving large video files and actively using email, watching training videos, among other things, then you will want networking appliances equipped to prioritise and process all of this simultaneous traffic.
Please click here to read more about VoIP system requirements, routers and speed.