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VoIP QOS (Quality of Service)

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VoIP Quality of Service Issues

So you are thinking about changing from your local phone company to VoIP Voice Over Internet Protocol, service but you are worried about the quality of service. Well, you should be. Unlike the local phone company, VoIP is unregulated by the FCC. Donít let this scare you, all you need is some sound information.

Something that most people take for granted is the quality of telephone service. Far from the days when Sprint made the point that they were the best because you could hear a pin drop, we have gotten used to the quality offered by the telephone industry. However, that quality hasnít quite transferred over to VoIP in most service.

Many people donít realize there are 2 way's to provide VoIP service;

  1. On a private network running QOS software.
  2. Across the public open Internet where it is impossible to control the quality of service.

Private VS. Public Open Internet
There are advantages and disadvantages to both the private and public services. Making the wrong choice can cost you thousands of dollars to correct.  Below we explain the characteristics of both services.

A Private Networkís quality is similar to normal TDM phone service with added features. The cost is also similar for local and long distance service; you will usually see a significant saving in International calling.  

Using the Public Internet opens up many possibilities for reducing the cost of calling, but there is no telling what type of service you will have at any given time. Because you are on the public Internet your voice traffic is seen as any other packet of data. The problem with this is normal data transfer is not sensitive to latency, voice however is. Once you go over 80 ms the quality of the voice deteriorates dramatically. It starts out sounding like you are talking in a cave, then pieces of the conversation are lost.

If you are looking for a way to talk to a family member that lives overseas, the public network is great. If you are conducting business, the few dollars a month you pay to be on a private network is well worth it.

How do you determine of the VoIP provider is on a private network and running QOS? Ask the right questions;

1. Who are they peered with? Like we said VoIP is sensitive to latency, if they are not peered with the big 3 Savvis, UUNet, Level 3 then odds are the latency will suffer.
2. Are they running QOS on their routers and switches?
3. Do they have E-911?
4. Do they have a pre-install test phase?
5. Are they willing to run your company VoIP over DSL?
If they answer yes, you can stop asking questions and move on to the next provider.

Answers;
1. They should peer or have a direct connection with two of the big three.
2. QOS is a must, if they don't have it move on.
3. E-911 is very important.
4. If they do not have a pre-install test they are obviously not concerned about the quality of service.
5. DSL latency is to unpredictable for business voice

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