VoIP and Your Network

July 19, 2010 by Darren Hartman

Looking to join the ever growing number of businesses using a cutting edge VoIP phone system, but concerned you’re infrastructure is ready?

No need to hesitate with that decision any longer. Ensuring your internet connection and network infrastructure can handle VoIP is relatively easy (unless you’ve got a large complex network).

Let’s take a look at a few things you should know:

  • Available bandwidth – Chances are you already most likely have a strong and reliable internet connection in the office (or else you wouldn’t be reading this). However, a lack of necessary bandwidth to properly transport your VoIP calls has crippled more than a few deployments. This because many fail to realize that VoIP calls are made up of data packets and fail to increase their available bandwidth before utilizing VoIP.
    • Prior to making the switch to VoIP, you should calculate the total bandwidth needed to send and receive your calls. You can do this by multiplying the number of anticipated simultaneous calls times the packet size of the voice codec you will be using (like G.722 or G.729).
    • There are some great bandwidth calculators online that can help you with this.
  • Ensuring and Managing Quality of Service (QoS) – All voice calls are sensitive to interference and since most VoIP calls will be sharing bandwidth with the rest of your data, you may want to prioritize or even segment you voice traffic. Doing this enables you to avoid the following issues which result in poor calling experiences:
    • Latency: Delay of packet delivery
    • Jitter: Variations in delay of packet deliver
    • Packet Loss: Too much traffic in the network cause the network to drop packets
    • Burstiness of Loss and Jitter: Loss and discards (due to jitter) tend to occur in bursts

Once you’ve taken a look at each of these items in relation to your current internet connection and network infrastructure, you should be a good position to move on to the next steps. This includes:

  • Increasing bandwidth
  • Replacing or expand your existing network infrastructure

When it comes to the second item, your networking infrastructure, it is important to know that the switches and routers of today are for more advanced than the ones you may be running. Today’s networking equipment come with features that allow the shaping of traffic and tools to ensure QoS.

They’re also nowhere near as expensive as you might think, so if it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your network, you should definitely take a look at what’s currently available.

So don’t let your current infrastructure scare you away from VoIP. If you take into account the factors listed you are going to stop any issues before they start.

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