Jeff Pulver, the American internet entrepreneur, once said: “We are in the midst of a VoIP communications revolution.”
He was spot on with his observation about the way people interact with each other today.
While Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is not the newest technology in the communication arena, it is undoubtedly one of the most impactful. It has indeed revolutionized the entire communication ecosystem by bringing down the cost of voice calls to almost zero.
VoIP technology enables users to communicate through an internet connection. It works by converting voice signals into digital signals and sending them as voice packets through the internet connection. Because of this, making calls through VoIP is free other than the cost of the internet required to make the call.
While VoIP has many advantages, it does, of course, have disadvantages as well. The biggest challenge for users of VoIP is poor call quality. Quality is of utmost importance in a business call—a lack of it can result in a missed business deal, a job opportunity, or a reduced reputation of the brand.
Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to address the VoIP call quality issues at your home or office. Here are six ways to improve your VoIP call quality.
1. Get a New Headset
Most people use a headset these days to make a call—it’s just a matter of convenience. Unfortunately, using a sub-standard headset in a VoIP setup can negatively impact the quality of the call. If you are unable to hear the person on the other end, or the person on the other side has a problem hearing your voice, then your headset could be the primary culprit there.
There is a simple solution for this problem—get a good quality headset that has been designed specifically to handle VoIP calls. Consider purchasing a headset that offers noise cancellation, too, as it will eliminate background noise at your end and help the person on the other side hear you better.
Also, you should consider choosing a USB or corded headset as they provide a more stable audio flow as compared to the wireless or Bluetooth ones.
2. Get a VoIP-Optimized Router
When was the last time you replaced your routers? Outdated routers don’t hold the required capacity to continuously stream calls. Put simply, these routers are not VoIP friendly.
What you need to do is invest in a router that prioritizes VoIP traffic. These routers are usually fairly inexpensive. If you are looking for a VoIP-optimized router for your home, then it will not cost you more than $200. If you are running a business, then consider purchasing routers that can handle large traffic without any interference. They can cost over $3000, but they are well worth the investment.
Pro tip: When purchasing a router, check if the router supports SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and Virtual LAN (VLAN). These features help in delivering your data effectively and keep the latency low.
3. Employ a Jitter Buffer
As mentioned earlier, in a VoIP system, voice data is converted into digital data, stored as small data packets, and sent through the internet connection to the receiver. But sometimes, the data might not be sent in the same chronological order, or the gap between two data packets might not be consistent. This could cause the audio to stutter or get mixed up, thus resulting in poor VoIP call quality.
First, check what type of ethernet cord you use. If the VoIP provider has given you a CAT5 cable for your VoIP phone service, your bandwidth is limited to 125MHz. In this case, upgrading to CAT6 cable can solve the issue as it supports data transmission up to 250MHz.
If your ethernet cord isn’t to blame for poor call quality, you may need to employ a jitter buffer. A jitter buffer is a temporary storage area (buffer) that captures the incoming data packets in a VoIP call. Jitter buffers look for VoIP packets in your network and make sure that all the packets are aligned in the right order with equal spacing before sending them out. Though it might lead to a slight lag, there would be no audio losses in the end.
4. Protect Your Network Traffic
Another way to improve the VoIP call quality is by protecting the traffic stream dedicated to VoIP calls. The IT team in your office could help you deal with network congestion. They usually monitor network usage with various network monitoring tools. This way, they can identify which packet stream in their network carries the VoIP data.
Once they identify the VoIP traffic stream, they can tag this traffic to protect it. In simple words, they can dictate to your network that a portion of your bandwidth (say around 10%) is used only for carrying the VoIP data. This way, no matter the volume of traffic in your network, the said 10% bandwidth would carry nothing but your VoIP data packets.
5. Get a DECT Phone
When making calls away from your desk, a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication (DECT) phone can be useful. DECT phones have their own radio frequency, which means they can improve audio quality considerably by eliminating interference from other wireless sources. Plus, these phones are cordless, which allows for a little more flexibility in terms of where you take calls.
6. Turn Off All Bluetooth Devices
This one might come as a surprise. How does a Bluetooth connection impact a VoIP call running on the internet? Here’s the deal—both Bluetooth and WiFi use a similar radio frequency range to transfer data. So the more congested the frequency, the more issues it will cause to your VoIP call.
While this might not be the most common issue that affects VoIP calls, if you’re using a multitude of Bluetooth devices, your VoIP call will likely be affected. So turn off the headphones, mouses, and keyboards and you’ll probably experience a sudden spike in the VoIP call quality.
Keep Customers Happy with Clear Communication
Thanks to technologies like VoIP, it’s easier than ever for businesses to expand—even on a global scale. Although technology is constantly evolving and improving, VoIP can still cause some small headaches if you’re not sure how to troubleshoot call quality issues. By following the six steps listed above, you can improve your VoIP audio quality and keep customers happy with frictionless communication.