If you’ve done any research on implementing cloud communications as your next business phone system… you most definitely ran across the term QoS (Quality of Service). To achieve business quality phone calls over the cloud you will need a basic understanding of what this means to you and your organization. Here is a simple breakdown of how QoS works.
First Things First – The Packet
To understand QoS you really need to understand the term “packet”. A packet is a basic unit of communication, or data, transmitted over a digital network.
Simple explanation: In the world of cloud communications, the “digital network” would be the internet and the data transmitted over the internet would be audio.
Did you know? A single packet will contain anywhere from 10-30 milliseconds of audio.
When data is transmitted, it is broken down into similar structures of data, which are reassembled to their original data form once they reach their destination. RTP (Realtime Transport Protocol) is used to help achieve that. For example, in VoIP, audio samples are placed into data packets for transmission over a real-time IP network (Internet).
Simple explanation: RTP makes sure these audio samples (voice) are transmitted (internet) from the source to the proper destination (your ear) correctly.
QoS Call Quality Indicators
The goal of QoS is to guarantee that packet traffic for voice will not be delayed or dropped. Here are some indicators of whether that is working or not.
Latency or delay of packet delivery – Large delays are not good and can cause bad echos. Conversations with large delays are almost impossible. You basically keep interrupting each other.
Jitter or variations in delay of packet delivery – Jitter can cause strange sounds, but can be handled to some degree with “jitter buffers” in the edge device software.
Packet loss or network traffic congestion causing packets to drop – Packet loss causes interrupts. Lots of packet loss will make audio sound lousy. VoIP is not tolerant of packet loss. Even 1% packet loss can “significantly degrade” a VoIP call.
Three Steps to QoS Success!
The good news is there are easy ways to make sure the above issues are put to rest and business calls take place with clarity and reliably. When designing your QoS infrastructure your local network, your internet connection, and your edge-devices (routers) all contribute to overall call quality. With a little planning call quality issues can be eliminated. Here’s how you do this in 3 simple steps.
Something to think about… BYOB (bring your own bandwidth) is a great way to keep the costs down. With that said… There are providers that aren’t able to make this work and make it mandatory to use their proprietary network. While putting your phone calls over the internet sounds risky it really isn’t any more. All the providers of business quality broadband have made their networks much more “voice friendly” making a proprietary network not really necessary.
To help you manage your call quality you first need to check your internet connection. Bandwidth size and voice quality indicators are important to know. If you want to see how your current network infrastructure measures up for QoS check this out:
Proper network cabling and Power over Ethernet (PoE) data switching are needed. If you’re going to place a phone next to a PC then you are most likely good to go on cabling. PoE data switches supply power to VoIP phones without the need for AC adapters at every phone location.
QoS-enabled routers with prioritized voice traffic over lower-priority data traffic, such as large downloads, are also needed. Instructions on how to configure the Quality of Service (QoS) settings of your routers typically will come from your Hosted VoIP provider. As do recommendations for the routers. With that said pretty much any router that supports QoS and Bandwidth Management (Traffic Management) will likely work fine.
QoS is Not Rocket-Science!
Hopefully you can see that achieving a QoS infrastructure is not rocket-science. Partner up with a credible Hosted VoIP provider, like Crexendo for example, and they will help you with all these steps and understanding along the way. With just a little planning the convenience, power, and cost-savings of cloud communications can be yours!Photos courtesy of 123RF
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