Telephone On-Hold audio blog
Understanding VoIP Phone Systems
Have you ever been on a VoIP call and out of nowhere, your conversation becomes all jittery? Whilst the beauty of VoIP is its ability to bypass the standard Publicly Switched Telephone Network and instead utilise an internet connection, this major selling point can also be a considerable drawback. Fortunately, however, we can help! Understanding How VoIP Works VoIP delivers pieces of your conversation through the internet as data - in order to send voice as data, VoIP has to convert the sound into what are known as “packets.” Put simply, on a VoIP phone calls, these packets are your voice. These are sent in intervals to keep a steady flow to the conversation.
So what is Jitter? Since your voice data is divided and separated into individual packets, the information is not necessarily sent in the same order as how it was spoken. Jitter is when packets of information are dropped, or sent out of order, leading to a jumbled conversation. This phenomenon will generally be measured in the milliseconds of delay, and if the jitter is beyond 40 or 50ms delay, your call quality will degrade massively. What Causes Jitter? Whilst the exact culprit can be difficult to determine, we can identify a few possible reasons. Whilst a poor internet connection is the most obvious explanation, anything that interferes with your internet connection will also interfere with your call quality.
Let’s run through them…
1: Network Congestion —The most common cause of jitter is simply an overcrowded network. If you have too many devices on the same network, you will run out of bandwidth, and slow your connection to a crawl. This will inevitably lead to data packets being dropped or delivered in the wrong order.
2: Wireless Networks — Whist a wire free network frees us from endless cables, chances are you will be experiencing a degraded network connection. Although this is fine for our mobile devices, WiFi isn’t necessarily powerful or stable enough to rely on for our phone calls.
3: Bad Hardware — Our internet networks are generally made up of a couple of different pieces of hardware. Accordingly, bad hardware, such as an outdated modem or a damaged Ethernet cable can lead to call quality issues.
Troubleshooting Jitter Now that we understand what jitter is, we come down to finding the solution. Now, I’ll be honest, sometimes solving the issue of jitter is completely out of our hands. You can purchase the best router and modem combination in the world and ensure your network is clutter free; but if the internet service you receive is slow or poor quality, your calls will still suffer. But not all hope is lost, if you do experience jitter there are a few courses of actions you can take.
1: Upgrade Your Internet Connection When it comes to VoIP, internet connection is paramount. You want to ensure you have a substantial upload and download speed capable of handling VoIP calls, as well as a stable connection without delays. This will generally be dictated by the Internet Service Provider you choose, and the speed of internet you purchase.
2: Utilize a Jitter Buffer Generally included in endpoints and desk phones, a jitter buffer works to directly combat the issue head on. Since jitter occurs when packets are delivered out of order, a jitter buffer will simply “collect” the packets and deliver them in order, allowing for a coherent conversation.
3: Upgrade Network Hardware Besides upgrading your internet connection, you may also want to consider upgrading the hardware that makes up your internet connection and network. For example, purchasing a router with specific VoIP quality of service settings can help ensure that voice data is prioritized.
The Bottom Line Jitter is probably the most common and frustrating VoIP quality issue, causing many to even abandon the service for standard telephony. But in reality, jitter is easy to diagnose, recognize and even solve. If you take time to invest in your network, your VoIP calls will be crystal clear, and issue free.
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