Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone services offer incredible benefits for businesses and home users alike. Your VoIP subscription may offer device independence, smartphone apps, mobile clients, and more. U.S.-based companies are using VoIP services at a greater frequency as the pandemic has pushed businesses to diversify into more distributed work cultures. If you want to start VoIP in your business or improve VoIP call quality, try our #1 recommended VoIP service.
Grading VoIP Calls
Grading a VoIP call is simple. First, ask yourself – is the call quality as good or better than your old phone? Are the calls better now that your employees are speaking to customers through their home PCs rather than in an IT-controlled central office? Business-grade VoIP has become more popular than ever with businesses and home network users since the beginning of the coronavirus. However, much of that quality depends on your VoIP vendor.
Thankfully, you can get excellent voice quality through solutions such as RingCentral and Editors’ Choice tools Intermedia Unite. Your VoIP call quality does depend on the underlying network, the available IT staff, and your internet. However, you can also improve VoIP call quality and keep your conversations crystal clear by following these steps to identify potential issues and fix them.
Voice data is sent through your network in packets that have been organized in chronological order. These packets and the order they are sent in are referred to as jitter. Delays in the packet order, how they are organized, and how they are received can be caused by improper queuing, poor configuration, and congested networks.
You can fix jitter issues by upgrading simple ethernet cords to CAT6 cables. CAT5 cables may have been provided to you by your VoIP servicer. However, a CAT5 cable is only able to support 125MHz. A CAT6 cable is capable of transmitting your data at roughly 250MHz. Changing your cables is the quickest and easiest fix for jitter issues.
The Cable Didn’t Improve VoIP Call Quality
Try implementing a jitter buffer if switching your CAT5 to a CAT6 cable has not solved your jitter issues. Contact your VoIP vendor. They will be happy to configure a buffer to store data packets in sequence temporarily. This buffer will then transmit the jitter packets to the network in specially timed intervals. The jitter buffer helps your VoIP system to deliver voice data accurately, giving you smoother call quality.
2. Purchase Better Equipment
When it comes to call quality, you get what you pay for. There are headsets as cheap as $1 and others that can run you all the way up to $400. Spending $400 per headset is pretty steep and not necessary. You wouldn’t expect your favorite musical artist to use cheap equipment, so why would you manage your business through cheap, shoddy VoIP headsets? Choose a reasonably priced headset that suits your needs.
When you are choosing your VoIP headset, there are several factors you need to consider. First, is call quality your main concern? If it is, look for noise-canceling headphones capable of delivering sound to both ears. Next, consider a corded or a Bluetooth set. Corded and USB headsets will provide a more stable quality than wireless headsets. While you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars per headset, ensure that you set money aside for quality equipment.
3. Consider Your Router
Do not lose VoIP call quality by relying on a standard home or small business router. You need the proper router to handle the network infrastructure that your VoIP calls need. Ensure that your router is able to prioritize voice applications over other non-essential applications. Many of these routers can be as inexpensive as $200 for small businesses. However, others can be as expensive as $3,000 if you need a router that can handle heavy-duty usage.
Finding the right router for your business may be tricky for home network users and businesses looking to extend their VoIP services to their employee’s homes. The simple routers used in home networks may be missing the advanced features needed to manage VoIP traffic successfully. If you are looking to improve VoIP call quality, make sure your router is up for the task.
Features to Look For
Wireless mesh systems are excellent home solutions, but the management apps tend to be designed to allow easy setup with no network knowledge. This is good and bad because it also means that you may miss potentially useful options at setup. Speak to the salesperson prior to purchase to ensure the router has a more extensive management interface so you can set the traffic protections needed for your VoIP system.
Another critical feature your router needs to have is an adjustable QoS or quality of service. The QoS feature ensures that you can rearrange traffic priority, so your calls get the bandwidth they need. Also, ensure that your router supports SIP or session initiation protocols and virtual LAN. These features ensure reliable data delivery, grouping, and data disbursement.
You may need to update if you have configured the QoS to prioritize voice applications and set the SIP and VLAN but are still experiencing poor call quality. Many routers are plugged in and forgotten. If your company has grown or you are struggling with VoIP calls, it may be time to upgrade to a larger router. Additionally, your router may not function at its full capacity if it has a pending software update. Check the router and update as needed.
4. Bandwidth Reduction
Home users tend to have networks that are centered around a single router. This router processes all traffic through the network, meaning that bandwidth usage is a huge consideration. Regardless of whether you are using a residential VoIP or if you are extending your VoIP system into your employees’ homes, overloaded networks pose a significant hurdle in VoIP call quality.
Overloaded networks cause jitter, packet collisions, and network hiccups that lower your call quality. The easiest way to combat this issue is to reduce the bandwidth that is used by other applications during VoIP calls. If you live alone, this is an easy task. However, reducing bandwidth usage might be difficult if you live with family or roommates.
Steps to Reduce Bandwith
- Turn off video games.
- Stop streaming movies.
- Limit the number of users on the internet.
- Coordinate with family members when using VoIP or video conferencing.
- Set a schedule so everyone knows when they can or cannot use the internet.
If you cannot use these suggestions, improve VoIP call quality by setting a dedicated VLAN on your router to run VoIP traffic. As long as your router supports it, your IT should be able to easily help you set up a VLAN while over the phone. VLAN creates a separate network inside the physical network that is dedicated to VoIP usage. This bandwidth is set apart and will always be available for your VoIP calls.
5. Become a Network Traffic Monitor
As mentioned above, the amount of bandwidth being used will have a massive impact on the quality of your calls. If you notice that the jitter buffer isn’t solving your audio problems, set up your QoS. The built-in QoS feature on your router will protect your VoIP traffic stream.
QoS tends to work similarly across all network hardware because it is a network standard. However, there are several ways to achieve the same effect. Most IT professionals will be able to use network monitoring tools to identify the packet streams carrying VoIP data. These professionals can then tag this data and protect that traffic, ensuring that you have high-quality VoIP calls.
How is QoS Going to Help?
QoS lets you improve VoIP call quality by allowing your IT pro to dedicate a portion of your bandwidth to carrying VoIP and VoIP traffic only. For example, if they set apart 10% of your bandwidth for voice traffic, you will always have 10% of your bandwidth there for voice traffic after the QoS is configured. This ensures that you always have that bandwidth available for voice applications, regardless of what anyone else is doing on the internet.
QoS also lets you prioritize VoIP traffic. When the network is congested, VoIP traffic is sent first. This prioritization allows you to deprioritize non-essential functions. For example, your web page may take longer to load, but the phone call with your customer isn’t going to cut out.
6. Cut Out Interference
Those using a home network may find a lot of interference in their homes. Interference can be produced by phones with higher GHz frequencies. Typical VoIP phones tend to run at about 2.4GHz. However, you will find 5.8GHz phones on the market, as well. Generally, you will get a more extended range with the 2.4-GHz band, though the data throughput is slower. You will get a faster data flow but smaller coverage with the 5-GHz band.
If you are struggling with interference with your system, improve VoIP call quality by checking the frequency on your phone. For example, if your phone is running on 5.8GHz, switch to 2.4GHz and vice versa. Most routers and Wi-Fi extenders will allow you to run either frequency and choose the traffic in each spectrum. Ask the service technicians with your VoIP provider about optimal performance with their platform and follow their recommendations for frequency.
Businesses need to communicate while on the go. In the past, businesses were forced to remain stationary using corded phones in a central office. Today, businesses need to stay connected in the office, at home, and while on the road in order to succeed. Ensuring that your smartphone rings when someone dials your desk extension, regardless of where you are, allows you to be more productive during the day.
If you need to be able to move during the day or free your employees from their desks, look into a DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications phone). A DECT phone uses its own spectrum, which ensures that you experience less interference from other wireless sources in the office. A DECT phone can easily improve VoIP call quality by experiencing less interference.
Benefits of a DECT
- Allows you and your employees freedom of movement.
- May be available through your VoIP provider, ensuring less installation stress.
- May be as simple as plugging your phone into a USB port on your host system.
- Experiences less interference from wireless sources.
If you need your smartphone to ring when the desk phone is dialed, contact your VoIP provider to see what options they have for softphone and call forwarding. Call forwarding is a good choice, but having all phone traffic forwarded to your cell phone, especially when the office phones go down, can be a nightmare. Therefore, softphone software is generally the most attractive option for businesses and home users alike.
Softphone uses software apps that ensure you can use your pre-existing phone to make and receive VoIP calls. This ensures that you can conduct conversations, meetings, and other tasks from virtually anywhere. In addition to this, a softphone by your VoIP servicer guarantees complete compatibility and customer service with a company you trust. Compatability is incredibly important when looking to improve VoIP call quality.
Softphone benefits include:
- SMS texting
- Available smartphone apps
- Customized greetings
- Call logger and forwarding
- Caller ID
- Speed dialing
- Conference calling
- Excellent call quality
8. When in Doubt, Call an Expert
A large part of VoIP’s attraction comes down to how easy it is to do it yourself. “Get up and running fast” is a slogan that many business-grade VoIP providers throw around, and it’s a claim that is mostly true. However, garbled calls and dropped calls do happen. After you have exhausted your in-house knowledge and the customer service rep has just begun to repeat themselves, it’s time to consider calling in a professional.
Thankfully, VoIP consultants are available and can do much more than install and maintain a system. Many of these companies can also help you optimize your Wi-Fi coverage which is often the largest consideration when looking at the performance of your VoIP system.
What Can A VoIP Consultant Do For Me?
A VoIP consultant can get your communication to the next tier by implementing the following:
- Secure data and transmissions
- Automating meetings and scheduling across the board
- Design fully functioning auto attendants
- Developing custom integrations
- Setting up call analytics
- Setting up dashboards for marketing, sales, billing, and more
VoIP consultants are a fantastic choice if you are looking to improve your call quality and use your VoIP system to get the most bang for your buck. Hiring a VoIP consultant is going to cost you money upfront, but it will be worth the effort and money when they optimize your VoIP system.
We hope that these tips help you to improve VoIP call quality by preventing gaps, echoes, stuttering, and dropped calls. If you are troubleshooting issues with your VoIP calls, don’t forget to monitor call quality to help identify the root cause of the problem. If none of these tips help to improve your call quality, consider switching providers and try our #1 recommended VoIP service today.