Upgrading your existing network for VoIP

August 31, 2010 by Darren Hartman

Many businesses are looking to upgrade their phone systems to VoIP for the added features, flexibility and cost savings on long distance.

With the added burden of VoIP on the network, companies need to guard against Packet loss, delay and jitter in their networks.  As such the requirements to make sure that you have everything you need are becoming more advanced. And network technology is advancing and changing more than ever these days.

So before you make that move to VoIP you need to make sure your network is ready to handle the additional traffic.

Evaluate your network infrastructure

The first thing you need to do is take an inventory of what equipment you currently have. Hopefully you have a good amount of equipment that is solid and up to date. Here are the most important things to evaluate.

  • Cabling – Do you have up to date cat 5 or cat 6 cabling wired up in your office. Do you have enough network drops to handle the new ip phone handset?
  • Wireless – Are you looking to add wireless VoIP handsets in the office? If you are going to be using Wi-Fi handsets you will need to make sure you have some good wireless switches and ample access point coverage throughout the usage area.
  • Switching – Many of the new ip phones available are gigabit Ethernet ready and Poe compliant. If you are looking to take advantage of these areas then you may need to invest in some new switches. Also if you do not have at least 10/100 managed switches in the office it is probably a good time to upgrade too.
  • Routers – QOS or Quality of Service is a big component of an efficient VoIP System. One of the biggest issues with VoIP is understanding how QOS is specified and delivered across your network infrastructure. Voice quality is directly related to network latency and packet delays that can cause drop-outs and degrade overall audio. You also might want to segregate voice traffic on its own virtual LAN (VLAN). It’s worth doing a couple of pilot tests before you make any upgrade decisions and redraw your network architecture.

Make sure you have the right pipe

Just like you can’t be too rich or too thin, you can never have enough Internet bandwidth.

  • What’s your current bandwidth limits – A good place to start is a free service with TestYourVOIP.com. But you’ll also want to examine your existing ISP contracts too.
  • Get an SLA – You need to make sure you have a good SLA or service level agreement. Make sure your providers give you performance guarantees in their contracts. They are a lot of great service providers out there.  If they are one of the good ones they will have no problem with this.
  • Be ready to need more bandwidth – You may be interested in upgrading your existing ISP connection because you have maxed it out. You probably need a dedicated T-1 or better if you are going to have more than a dozen VOIP users, so it might be worthwhile to investigate having a separate ISP connection just for voice. This is a very important part of the network. Do some research via the Internet or feel free to contact me directly. I can make some recommendations on service and hardware.

Ensuring that your network is ready for VoIP is an important factor determining the success of a VoIP deployment. Following the advice and steps above you should be well on your way to ensuring that your network is ready to handle your new VoIP system.


  • Craig

    Darren what router/switch/ipphones do you recommend for a small business of up to 15 users for connecting to hosted pbx services?

  • Paul Kahn

    I enjoyed visiting your website, and I signed up for your newsletter since I think the info can be helpful technically. I am a telecom engineer that has more experience with legacy telecom than with VoIP but I am a quick learner and I think the transition can be both interesting as well as fun. I am looking to do some Voip system sales and installs for profit. The only challenge that I face now is learning how to market since most of my experience is technical and not in sales. If you have any marketing suggestions for selling VoIP systems to SMB it would be appreciated.


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