Problems with call quality and reliability can quickly damage your reputation by reducing the effectiveness of your customer support staff and sales teams. Although VoIP has become an industry standard in business telecommunications, many systems are still plagued by issues. Fortunately, many common call-quality problems are easy to identify, and most can be solved by upgrading your communications infrastructure. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most common factors that can adversely affect call quality and what you can do to alleviate them.
In communications, latency refers to the amount of time it takes for a message to reach the recipient. In the case of telecommunications, latency is sometimes also referred to as mouth-to-ear delay. For live communications, you ideally want a latency of no more than 200 milliseconds, and preferably a lot less. Latency rates above 200ms are easily noticeable in the form of handling and queuing delays, thus greatly reducing call quality.
Although all communications are limited by the finite speed of light (300,000 metres per second), which is more than enough to have a comfortable live call with anyone in the world, other factors can greatly reduce the speed at which the data is sent. While your ISP may be the ultimate cause, you can often reduce call latency by prioritizing VoIP traffic. A reliable online communications system should, for example, allow you to prioritize different traffic through the router’s firmware.
While latency refers to the delay between the participants in the call, bandwidth refers to the actual volume of data involved in the transmission. According to phone.com, a single call requires a minimum bandwidth of 100 Kbps both upstream and downstream. Any less than this, and data compression will start causing a noticeable decrease in audio quality.
Since business telecommunications systems often require the facility to handle multiple calls simultaneously, the bandwidth requirements can increase exponentially. For example, 10 concurrent calls require at least 1 Mbps of upstream and downstream bandwidth. While this might not sound like much given today’s fiber-optic broadband capabilities, the amount of available bandwidth can be greatly reduced by other online activities such as downloading large files or streaming high-resolution videos.
Poor weather conditions can easily cause problems with call quality, especially if you’re relying on wireless communications systems. As such, it’s always better and more reliable to have a communications system with a fixed connection. However, static electricity, especially during thunderstorms, can cause disruption on fixed lines. As is always the case with static electricity, it can also linger for a while after the actual cause is no longer a factor.
Of course, there’s not much you can do about weather-related problems, but online communications systems do tend to do a much better job of negating the issue. For a start, such systems typically use digital audio, which translates the speaker’s voice into zeros and ones rather than delivering it in an analogue format. Sometimes, you can also reduce static interference simply by unplugging the phone or router and reconnecting it after a few seconds. Doing so discharges static electricity.
Although you might not have control over the weather, there are many other factors that can cause interference, especially with traditional landline communications. Any kind of interference can cause problems with call quality, and VoIP devices can also interfere with one another. These problems are usually characterized by unwanted background noise, which is often due to things like wireless receivers picking up unwanted signals from other devices.
To ensure the best performance, you’ll need to make sure your hardware is located optimally. You’ll want to keep any analogue telephone adapters (ATAs) away from broadband routers and other networking devices. Additionally, any devices directly connected to the phoneline should be wired through microfilters to reduce interference and related latency issues. You should also minimize your reliance on wireless devices, since they’re usually much more susceptible to radio interference.
Fortunately, most call-quality issues can be easily alleviated by upgrading your telecommunications infrastructure to take advantage of the latest technology. A reputable online communications provider should offer exceptional reliability through dedicated hardware and well-optimized audio codecs. If you’re looking for a flexible cloud-based unified communications (UC) system, call Dyrand Systems today to find out how we can help.