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VoIP Switch - Why VoIP Quality Has Improved

February 28, 2014


Voice-over-IP (VoIP) once had a bad reputation when it came to call quality.

Remember when making a call on a computer was cool but not really practical, a tactic only used when connecting with a friend who lived internationally?

“While today VoIP is an efficient, cost-effective and robust telephone system, in the early 2000's things were different,” noted a recent blog post on New Zealand blog, “First there was the dreaded delay part way through a conversation, perhaps an annoying echo, or a strange R2D2-like gargle.”

For VoIP to gain mainstream acceptance, the call quality had to improve. As the Stuff article noted, “perhaps one of the fastest ways to lose friends and alienate people is by having an unreliable telephone system.”

Thankfully, it has. Which is why businesses have been flocking to VoIP, and the telephone network itself is in the process of transitioning away from a TDM-based infrastructure of old to the IP infrastructure that enables VoIP.

The issue has never been the VoIP technology itself, which technically can deliver high definition calling that far exceeds the possible call quality of the analogue system it replaces.

The major advancement has been better network prioritization. VoIP once suffered unreliability because it shared the network with other data traffic that sometimes strangled calls momentarily. While it doesn’t matter if an e-mail is delayed a few seconds along its route, it matters a great deal when VoIP data packets are delayed. This delay can lead to call delay or dropped words, and the R2D2-like gargle comes from not having enough bandwidth to deliver all the packets to give a better voice experience (better to give poor quality than have a delay in the call).

The necessity of upping the reliability of VoIP has led to better prioritization technology, but so has the emergence of the cloud.

With the increasing reliance on the cloud for data services of all types, it has been incumbent that networks learn to prioritize some data over other data. If all data is treated the same, critical data that does depend on reliable transmission can get bogged down by traffic that definitely can wait a couple more milliseconds.

This is not data discrimination, per se, but it is about acting smarter about data traffic.

With that in mind, some firms—VoIP providers in particular—have worked to ensure that they have network routes that ensure reliability. Any old network path will not do, and an increasing number of VoIP providers and cloud hosts that need a certain measure of assured reliability are making partnerships that ensure a minimum bandwidth and prioritization that ensures the right amount of data can flow at the right time.

This overall trend is why VoIP is not as unreliable as it was in the past. The pipes of the Internet have been opened, so to speak, and VoIP data definitely is data that needs to flow free.

Edited by Alisen Downey

VoIP Switch - VoIP Comes of Age in the Enterprise

Traditional phone lines might have their place in a highly connected society, but the truth of the matter is, to stay afloat in a competitive business landscape, one needs a bit more than a plain old telephone system (POTS).

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