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August 02, 2010

Can Your Network Handle VoIP Calls Now?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Looking for a business VoIP phone system, but concerned that your infrastructure might not be ready?

In fact, say officials of VoIP Insider, ascertaining that your Internet connection and network infrastructure can handle VoIP isn't as hard as you might think.

Well, unless you’ve got one of those huge, incredibly complex networks. Then yeah, you might need professional help. Even then it helps to have some glancing familiarity with what you're talking about.

But you should be considering it. As TMC's (News - Alert) Stefania Viscusi wrote recently, "It’s hard to believe that at a time when cost savings are most vital for any business, and especially those smaller operations, that Voice over IP technology is still not in place for some."

Chances are you already most likely have a strong and reliable Internet connection in the office. If you don't, well, we'd say that's your Number One priority, and not just for VoIP reasons. Although bandwidth to transport VoIP calls is a bigger issue than many realize, though, since VoIP calls are made up of data packets, so you might need to increase your available bandwidth before using VoIP.

So prior to making the switch to VoIP, "you should calculate the total bandwidth needed to send and receive your calls," VoIP Insider officials say. And you don't even need the slide rule: "You can do this by multiplying the number of anticipated simultaneous calls times the packet size of the voice codec you will be using (like G.722 or G.729)."

Plus there are bandwidth calculators online that can help you with this.

Ensuring and managing Quality of Service is another issue to consider. All voice calls are sensitive to interference, VoIP Insider officials say, and since most VoIP calls will be sharing bandwidth with the rest of your data, "you may want to prioritize or even segment your voice traffic."

Doing this helps you avoid some issues which result in poor calling experiences such as latency, which means delay of packet delivery, and jitter, which is caused by variations in delay of packet delivery. Too much traffic in the network can cause the network to drop packets as well.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Ed Silverstein

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