Before you deploy voice-over-IP or a Hosted PBX service in your office there are a few considerations you must first address. Switching from traditional telephone service to voice-over-IP (VoIP) requires sufficient bandwidth, a proper switch and router, and a good battery backup solution to protect you from power failures.
The key voice-over-IP requirements discussed in this article are:
How much bandwidth do I need?
Voice over IP needs a certain amount of bandwidth in order to keep your conversations clear and free of disruptions. Bandwidth is the amount of information which your internet connection can send and receive in a certain period of time. Your first step should be to use an online speed test to find out what your maximum upload stream and download stream is. We suggest you do this test using a fixed connection to the internet rather than using your wifi (wireless) connection to get accurate results. Try to use numerous tests during different times of the day to get a good average of what you can expect from your internet connection. Bandwidth is normally measured in kbps or kilobits per second. You will need to have a high speed (broadband) connection to use voice-over-IP. A typical DSL connection will be rated at 600 kbps for the upload stream and 5000 kbps on the download stream. You will notice that your upload stream is almost always smaller than your download stream which becomes your limiting factor for using VoIP service. Your next step is to determine how many people in your office are likely going to be using the phone at the same time. For instance, having ten people on the phone will require ten times as much bandwidth as having one person on the phone. Below is a chart which will help you calculate how many people can be on the phone at one time:
Notice we used the upload bandwidth in our calculation as this is the limiting factor for voice-over-IP. You also don’t want to push your connection to the limit as most cable and DSL connections do not have guarantees in terms of how much bandwidth they will deliver. If you Internet connection drops in bandwidth at some point during the day you don’t want your call quality to be affected. Other factors affecting voice-over-IP are the latency of your connection and how much packet loss there is on it.
A router is the device that connects all your computers and network equipment to your Internet connection. It is an often overlooked piece of the puzzle that can have a major impact on the success or failure of your voice-over-IP implementation. There are many routers on the market, some are very cheap (less than $40) and others can cost you thousands of dollars. There is nothing worse than putting a poor quality or underpowered router in your office which could cause an otherwise good VoIP installation to go bad.Your router needs to be powerful enough to handle the number of phones you will have in your office and should also work flawlessly with voice-over-IP equipment. A good place to start when deciding on your router is to speak with your voice-over-IP service provider. We also recommend checking to make sure that your router is compatible with voice-over-IP services. Please review our Router Compatibility Guide.The following is a list items which will help you to determine whether your router is right for voice-over-IP:
It is always best to get a recommendation from your voice-over-IP service provider as some routers are known to perform very poorly with VoIP phones.
Quality of service
Call quality is a function of your network and the public internet. Some delays and network congestion cannot be avoided due to information traveling over the public internet while other types can be avoided. Good network design is critical to a stable and reliable voice-over-IP implementation.Quality of service (QoS) refers to the ability for your router to prioritize voice traffic (VoIP) differently than regular internet traffic on your network or the seperation of voice traffic. Voice over ip is a real-time protocol which means that if information is lost or delayed it will result in a noticeable drop in call quality or a complete loss of it. Synptoms of network congestion include garbled audio, dropped calls and echo. When setting up voice-over-IP in your office there are three possible ways handle voice traffic. Some customers report perfectly good results without any quality of service (especially in a small 1-2 person office) and others report worse results with quality of service enabled on their router as some routers do a poor job of implementing this. Generally speaking however the best way to deliver realiable voice-over-IP service is through a dedicated internet connection that is only used by the voice-over-IP equipment rather than sharing the internet with computers. Below are the different methods of doing quality of service:
The method you decide on largely depends on how much bandwidth you have, what you are using your internet connection for besides voice-over-IP and the level of call quality desired. Many offices report perfectly good results without using any QoS, while others find that it makes a major difference in the quality of their calls.
Before deploying voice-over-IP in your office you will need to decide how each employee will be connected to your voice-over-IP provider. There are many choices on the market today.
With voice-over-IP and most office telephone systems you must consider what happens when the power goes out. For some offices this can be a regular occurrence and for others it might happen with a very low frequency. Once of the things you will need to decide is whether or not you will install a battery backup system. Here are a few important terms your should know:
The easiest way to protect your phone system from a power outage is to power all the phones using a Power-over-Ethernet switch that would normally be connected in the back room where your router and cable/DSL modem is located. This has the advantage that all your phones are drawing power from a single source which you can backup using an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). All you need to do is plug in your PoE switch, router, and DSL/cable modem into a sufficiently powerful UPS device so that when the power goes out all your phones remain up and running.