Almost everything we do in the office is turning digital. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) now cheaper, more effective, and simpler than traditional landlines, it has turned out to be a preferred way to make telephone calls for many businesses. But, with VoIP becoming more widespread, so does the occurrence of call quality issues such as jumbled audio, frequent static, voice delays, or dropped calls.
When these problems affect your VoIP line, there might be an issue with your routers, firewalls, modems, and other hardware. If these check out after inspection, you may have a connectivity issue that is degrading your voice quality. It could be that your type of internet solution was designed for internet surfing and not VoIP features. Or your business may have simply outgrown its internet speeds, which were sufficient a couple years ago.
Whether you’re thinking of switching to a VoIP telephone system or want to get the most out of your current solution, finding the best internet speed is crucial to avoiding poor and scratchy sounds on your line and enjoying great quality calls.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is the technology that enables you to make and receive phone calls over the internet by transmitting your voice as a digital signal between the two ends of the line. The basic setup for a VoiP system involves an IP phone, which can be a physical handset or a software program (also called a ‘softphone”) along with a reliable internet connection, and a subscription to a business VoIP provider.
One advantage of this system is that it piggybacks on your existing network so you don’t pay extra for making calls. However, because of its reliance on fast connections, VoIP is susceptible to lagging and other interruptions if the bandwidth is not up to speed.
What is bandwidth?
Bandwidth refers to the capacity of your network for uploading (sending files over the internet) or downloading (transferring files from the internet to your computer) in a fixed amount of time – calculated at a rate called kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). The higher your bandwidth speed, the more data you can transfer over the network.
What internet speed do you need for great quality VoIP calls?
VoIP is designed to use as little bandwidth as possible and as a general rule, a minimum internet speed of 60 – 100 kbps is recommended for a clear voice call. If you’re going to have more than one employee make phone calls, then this amount needs to be multiplied. So, five VoIP lines equal around 1Mbps of bandwidth.
But, this is just one part of the equation. The other, of course is, how much internet is consumed by employees going about their daily tasks. A connection of 1Mbps will be enough only for those VoIP calls. It may not be able to handle the browsing, streaming, emailing, and video calling happening at the same time.
In this case you can either ask employees to disconnect from the internet when someone is on a VoIP call (the general productivity levels will likely suffer) or set your router’s Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritise VoIP traffic (internet will slow down which will also lead to lower productivity). Or you can simply add more bandwidth on top of this to compensate for the data that other employees are using.
Bandwidth requirements differ between service providers, depending on its processing technology. By taking into consideration your VoIP service provider’s suggestion of the minimum bandwidth, it’s possible to know how much bandwidth will work best with your VoiP needs.
For every business, it is important to understand the minimum speed requirements for VoIP before picking a package. As previously mentioned, speed alone does not impact the quality of your IP phone calls, but to be on the safe side, talk to your service provider about your specific business needs — they will be able to offer you a VoIP and internet solution that work seamlessly together to give you the best experience.