Customers are pleased to be able to call your company and get their questions answered.  They’re much less likely to keep doing business with you if they’re experiencing frequent dropped calls, latency, or voice audio issues. Ensure that your VoIP phone service is smooth and uninterrupted by implementing VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) protocols, which can eliminate call quality issues by prioritizing VoIP over other network services.

Key Takeaways:

  • Good call quality is essential for your business.
  • Latency, dropped calls, and jitter can all impact call quality during busy times.
  • Quality of Service protocols prioritize certain data types (like VoIP) and can be used effectively to eliminate call issues.

Understanding the challenges of call quality in hosted phone services

Your call service—including voice interactions with customers, partners, and suppliers—is essential to keeping your business running smoothly and delivering a great customer experience. However, even with a good phone service provider, you can still encounter call quality issues with VoIP.

Your broadband connection can get overwhelmed with too many data packets during busy times. This leads to latent connections, dropped calls, and voice “echoing” issues.

Recognizing the impact of delays and silence on business credibility

Why does poor VoIP call quality matter for your business? First and foremost, customers expect at a baseline to be able to talk to a representative when they call you. Moreover, poor call quality can frustrate your employees, who struggle to understand customer issues because of phone latency or echoing.

Even if you don’t offer phone-based customer service, you still use your VoIP phones to call suppliers, handle questions, and complete other business-related tasks. Poor call quality makes all these items more difficult, wasting your business’ time.

What is VoIP Quality of Service (QoS)?

How can you address the issue of poor call quality on your hosted network? Enter VoIP Quality of Service, or QoS.

Defining QoS as a method to prioritize network traffic for acceptable service

QoS is a method that filters broadband traffic through a router to prioritize the most important data types, such as VoIP calls. The technology lets you focus resources on VoIP calls instead of other data types during busy times.

Understanding the role of QoS in mitigating echo, latency, and dropped calls

Without QoS, your network gives the same priority to every packet of data, using the First In, First Out (FIFO) system. QoS overrides this, prioritizing your connection resources by traffic or device type based on your set parameters. This allows you to give preference to call data, minimizing latency, dropped calls, echo, and other common service issues.

The Need for QoS in Voice Traffic

How can QoS help improve your VoIP voice traffic issues, and what are the “acceptable” call quality standards?

Analyzing the requirements for acceptable call quality in VoIP

There are all sorts of metrics you can use to determine acceptable call quality. The VoIP MOS (Mean Opinion Score) test is a standard and comprehensive tool to help determine areas where your call quality falls short. The phone test uses candidates who participate in a VoIP call and ranks its quality based on several factors on a scale of 1-5. The call factors analyzed are:

  • Background noise: how much distracting noise was present in the phone call?
  • Latency: how much delay was there?
  • Clarity: how distinct were the voices?
  • Jitter: was the phone audio choppy?
  • Loudness: was the volume appropriate?
  • Packet loss: were there gaps in the audio?

Scores are averaged together to get the final MOS test result. This test is a good baseline to work with when you’re trying to improve your VoIP call quality. It can help you identify areas for improvement, and you can rerun the test after installing QoS to ensure high-quality VoIP service.

An MOS score of 4.34 or higher is considered excellent. A score below 3.1 is considered very poor. If your score is below 3.6, you should consider making changes to ensure acceptable call quality.

Exploring the impact of latency, jitter, and packet loss on voice calls

The MOS score gives you an excellent overall picture of your call quality. Still, it’s also vital to understand baseline metrics for the components affecting call quality: latency, jitter, and packet loss.

When testing latency (or putting parameters on your QoS), you should aim for less than 150 milliseconds. Latency of this amount is not noticeable and does not have a detrimental impact on your call quality.

For jitter, try to get a maximum jitter rate of less than 30 milliseconds.

You should look for less than a 1% maximum packet loss rate to ensure the best call quality.

The Importance of Quality of Service in VoIP

We’ve explored the metrics that help determine VoIP call quality and benchmarks you should aim for, but how can implementing Quality of Service help you meet those goals? This section discusses how QoS can improve audio quality for your calls and reduce network congestion.

Exploring the significance of QoS in addressing audio quality issues

You can implement QoS requirements in several ways to improve your call quality. First, you can implement a priority queue that puts your VoIP system above other infrastructure elements that draw on your network. This ensures that VoIP calls always take priority if systems are overwhelmed, improving audio quality.

You can also practice good bandwidth conservation to make VoIP call quality better. Ensure that employees avoid using the network for unnecessary and data-guzzling actions during business hours, especially if you’ve had issues with network availability.

Highlighting the impact of network congestion on VoIP calls: how QoS can solve it

Network congestion occurs when there are too many data packets traveling across connections at the same time. If you experience frequent and significant congestion, there are a few possible causes. You might have bandwidth that’s too low for your usage levels. You could also be using outdated hardware that can’t handle the data output. If this sounds familiar, you can probably solve your VoIP congestion woes by updating your systems and enlisting a trusted VoIP provider to improve your call service.

However, if your network is updated correctly and you’re still experiencing network congestion, there might be a different cause. It’s possible that your company experiences “broadcast storms” or busy times when there is heavy traffic from calls and other systems in your network. If this sounds familiar, implementing QoS protocols is your best bet to ensure that call quality isn’t compromised during times of congestion. Instead of randomly dropping call data, a QoS protocol can prioritize time-sensitive information like your VoIP system over other network service demands.

Recommended VoIP QoS Settings

If you plan to implement a Quality of Service protocol, it’s important to configure it to the best settings for your business needs.

Discussing best practices for configuring QoS to improve call quality

To get the most out of your QoS, you should follow a few basic guidelines:

  • Start with a network assessment. As discussed earlier, you can use MOS testing or ask your VoIP provider to recommend the best ways to test your network. You’re looking for congestion areas and benchmark numbers on lag/latency, jitter, and dropped calls.
  • Choose your priorities. Identify what types of data are most important to your business. Your VoIP system should be at the top of your priority list.
  • Ensure that you’re using Cat6 or better cabling. Inferior types of cabling aren’t as fast and can cause backlogs.

Familiarizing with network benchmarks for troubleshooting VoIP

What benchmarks should you strive for when setting up your QoS protocol? We recommend that you keep network jitter under 30 milliseconds, latency under 150 milliseconds, and packet loss to less than 1%. Above these numbers, call quality will be noticeably affected.

Other metrics and benchmarks that you may consider are round trip time (RTT) and throughput.

Setting Up VoIP Quality of Service

When setting up your Quality of Service (QoS) parameters, below are some essential things to remember to ensure you get the best VoIP call quality.

Prioritizing network traffic based on type rather than device

In most cases, you want certain types of traffic to go through first rather than allowing specific devices to control all the bandwidth. For example, you’d want to allow all VoIP traffic top priority rather than giving higher priority to mobile devices. Unless you have only one or two employees handling calls, giving specific device preferences is not a great way to ensure that all calls are high quality.

Configuring DSCP headers and utilizing trust mode with strict priority

DSCP stands for Differentiated Services Code Point. It’s a way to classify and manage the data packets that travel through a system. Data is organized into different groups, and then you can use trust mode to mark which types of data you’d like to prioritize. This allows you to keep your QoS protocol organized and flexible.

Understanding the Limitations of VoIP QoS

If you’ve implemented QoS protocols for VoIP, it can be tempting to view your job as done. However, some other factors can also affect call quality. Consider the factors below if you’re using Quality of Service and still experiencing latency, dropped calls, or jitter. While QoS solves call quality issues in most instances, if you have major service issues with your hardware or enormously overtaxed bandwidth, you may need to implement further measures.

Recognizing that QoS is part of a broader system affecting call quality

Implementing a Quality of Service protocol will improve your call quality. However, QoS is not a magic wand. If you have significant issues with network crowding, inferior equipment, or low bandwidth, you may still experience latency, dropped calls, and other problems, even after implementing. QoS can do a lot for your VoIP quality, but you should use it along with other common-sense maintenance measures. 

For example, we recommend that you budget for 85% bandwidth usage. This means that even when all devices on the network are running, you still have 15% of the available bandwidth free. If you consistently overtax your bandwidth, even QoS measures will eventually max out. To ensure the highest VoIP call quality, be sure you have the proper amount of bandwidth along with implementing QoS protocols.

Exploring potential issues with intermediary network equipment and ISPs

One possible culprit that can harm VoIP call quality is old or poorly configured network equipment. For example, your cabling might not be able to handle the data transmission speeds you need. We recommend using Cat6 cabling or better to minimize call quality issues and ensure speedy data transmission.

Another factor that impacts call quality is your ISP (Internet Service Provider). If the external provider gives you inconsistent internet speeds, this can significantly affect how many VoIP calls you can safely handle. If your ISP gives you frequent outages or slow speeds, it’s probably time to switch for better service.

Call Quality Best Practices

Selecting a reliable business VoIP provider for optimal call quality

While there are QoS measures that you can take to improve your VoIP call quality, a good phone experience starts with a trustworthy VoIP provider. Look for a company with expertise in the field, and check customer reviews and testimonials. Ask prospective partners to share their redundancy measures and ensure they can integrate well with your existing network.

Implementing wired Ethernet connections and regularly testing LAN/WAN connections

Using wired ethernet connections is another practice that can make your VoIP calls noticeably better. Compared with wireless (WiFi) alternatives, an ethernet system offers more consistent network speeds and decreases call latency. A wired connection is also more secure than its wireless service counterpart.

Your LAN (Local Area Network) connects users who are physically close together, like employees in your building. Your WAN (Wide Area Network) connects you remotely with people worldwide. Testing both systems frequently is essential, as well as checking for speed and any call quality issues. 

Collaborating with the VoIP Service Provider

As you contemplate the best ways to implement Quality of Service for your VoIP system, you don’t have to do it alone. Your VoIP provider can offer you valuable help and insights. They can usually perform testing as needed and recommend the best hardware, software, and technology tools to achieve your desired results.

Evaluating the level of support and assistance from the provider

Your first step is to contact your VoIP provider and see what kind of support they can offer you. Explain your concerns or issues with call quality and ask for their recommendations. Some VoIP providers do most of the legwork for you, while others may take a more hands-off approach. Either way, be sure you understand what your provider’s technology capabilities are and what they recommend for your business.

Highlighting the personalized support and knowledgeable technicians offered

A quality VoIP provider like VerCom Systems will have professional technicians to help you with any VoIP call quality issues if you’re experiencing latency, jitter, or dropped calls.

If your VoIP provider doesn’t offer this sort of robust technical support, it may be time to consider a new provider that can effectively help solve your call quality issues.

Your business needs to be able to count on reliable, high-quality calls via your VoIP system. A VoIP Quality of Service protocol can ensure uninterrupted calling on your network during high-traffic times. When used in conjunction with other common-sense measures, QoS is an essential strategy for keeping your VoIP systems up and running.Are you looking for a trusted VoIP partner with robust support and technicians that you can trust? Consider VerCom Systems for your VoIP needs! Our team of professionals is always available to help troubleshoot your VoIP issues and provide the best service. Contact us to learn more!