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Improving the Situation

Money doesn’t solve all problems, and the same can be said for improving your network’s performance. Just because you are experiencing high latency and jitters within your business VoIP calls doesn’t mean that you should run right to your ISP and pay for a faster internet package.

That could solve the issue, but it might not be the only problem.

Every single aspect of your network and VOIP solution should be analyzed. Anything that could place interference in the path of a VoIP call must be looked into to identify any potential bottle necks.

1. Updated and Capable Hardware

An internal network consists of a fair number of physical hardware components. Physical firewalls, session border controllers, analogue to digital converters, physical network cables and lines, modems, switches, WiFi components all come together to create your network.

Outdated hardware can obviously have physical limitations, like a lack of ports to plug in devices, or be physically defective, for example a damaged port or antenna. Ensure hardware is in physical top shape and not damaged, but also not too ancient.

For example, modern networks would want to avoid switches, older modems and WiFi components like wireless adapters can be limited in connection speeds or missing modern, faster protocols. Physical firewalls or session border controllers, if improperly configured, might even be limited the rate at which data can flow.

2. Don’t Skip on a Router

While hardware, routers deserve their own unique mention. A router can be seen almost as the brain of your internal network, connecting together the other components to create a complete circuit. Your modem, which brings in internet from an external source (like cable or fiber optics connections), connects directly to the router, which then disperses that connectivity to other devices.

Routers provide both wired and wireless connections, and can create a massive bottle neck if they aren’t up to the job. Routers can also have a Quality of Service setting you would want to take advantage of, enabling users to prioritise VoIP traffic over other data.

3. Configure QoS and Other Settings

Generally included in routers, although sometimes firewalls and other network software components, are Quality of Service settings. Through the use of QoS prioritization, VoIP data packets can be given preferential treatment within your network.

If congestion occurs, other data will suffer before voice packets are slowed down. This can be a double edged blade, however. On one hand you are improving your VoIP services, on the other hand other traffic can suffer — there is a balance that must be found, but QoS setting should absolutely be properly configured based on the specific needs of your business and use case.

VoIP services also utilize “codecs” to convert that data from and into voices. Some codecs can place limitations on your calls, or even increase latency.

4. Be Careful With Jitter Buffers

Generally only implemented when jitter is still close to acceptable levels, a Jitter Buffer is a piece of software, or configuration setting that will essentially work to “smooth out” the conversation, and equalised the gaps between data packets.

The jitter buffer will actually create some latency in itself, but at the sake of ensuring your sentences are sent in the correct order. When jitter becomes a real issue, the jitter buffer should be one of the first things to go, but the functionality can be great for keeping everything in check.

5. Invest in Sufficient Bandwidth

At the end of the day, it is entirely possible that your internet connection simply isn’t up to the task. Modern internet speeds have reached some fairly insane levels, and will only continue to improve as we begin to see the introduction of new protocols like 5G.

However, that doesn’t mean your business has a capable connection. Without sufficient bandwidth, and capable upload/download speeds, based on the load your network is tasked with, you will inevitably run into issues.

Organisations must determine to the best of their ability how much bandwidth might be necessary to handle normal operations, as well as potential peak operational loads. Do not forget to include overhead, not only for these peak loads, but for even more catastrophic scenarios such as disasters or displacements.

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