1000’s of small and medium sized business owners have created a paradigm shift consisting of a mass exodus away from outdated analog telephone service. Everyday smart business owners are opting for the attractive cost savings, powerful features and productivity gains associated with Hosted VoIP and Cloud based IP PBX Service.
But before you rush to join this massive VoIP migration, you have got to be able to confidently answer this question. “Is my company network ready for VoIP Service?”
You can make a great deal of progress toward answering that question by focusing on two important key Network components: Available Bandwidth and the Network Router.
Your Company Internet Connection has to have sufficient bandwidth to support the number of anticipated simultaneous / concurrent VoIP phone calls that will be in progress at any given time. A good rule of thumb is to allot 90 kbps of bandwidth for each active VoIP call. For example if you expect to have 10 simultaneous VoIP calls in progress you would need 900 kbps or close to 1mbps of available bandwidth to effectively support 10 concurrent VoIP calls.
In our experience we have seen many instances where a business may want to switch off of their pricy copper analog (POTs) lines and move on over to VoIP for an anticipated immediate savings. But their existing bandwidth (Internet service) is simply not robust enough to reliably support their anticipated VoIP needs. You have to have sufficient bandwidth. This is something that absolutely has to be assessed, addressed, budgeted in and deployed prior to VoIP implementation.
Bandwidth requirements are unique and vary for each company situation. Engineering Teams and Architectural firms are going to use more bandwidth than beauty salons or small retail outlets.
What is the best way to determine if there is a sufficient amount of existing bandwidth to support an anticipated VoIP deployment? A good place to start is by checking your existing network speed / bandwidth. You can do that right now (for free) using Exabar’s courtesy Speed Test. To check your speed, click here:
and then simply click on “Begin Test”.
After the test is complete take the largest number of anticipated simultaneous calls you expect to have in progress at any given time, (Exam: 10) and multiply that by 90kbps (Amount of bandwidth taken up by a single call) 10 calls x 90kbps = 900kbps. Then deduct that total (900kbps) from the “Upload Speed” you determine from the Speed Test – Exam: Upload Speed =1.91mbps minus 900kbps = 1010kbps. So this example shows that with an upload speed of 1.91mbps you have sufficient bandwidth to support 10 simultaneous voice calls with approximately 1010kbps of bandwidth left over.
Even if you feel confident that you have enough bandwidth to support the number of simultaneous calls and data you anticipate using, how can you be sure the bandwidth will be available for voice calls when it is needed? Let’s say you own a trucking company and you only need the capability of three simultaneous voice calls. But you have a dozen IP Cameras in use spread across your office parking lot and loading docks taking up precious bandwidth. The more advanced thought and effort put toward balancing your Voice and Data needs with the correct amount of / and right delivery of bandwidth will pay dividends on many levels.
All users on any company network have a finite amount of bandwidth resource to share. Listening to music online, downloading/watching videos online, uploading/downloading large Visio files, etc: Any of these types of activities can “hog” precious bandwidth which in turn could potentially disrupt the quality of VoIP calls or cause calls to drop altogether.
Many routers available today (even inexpensive entry level routers) are able to resolve bandwidth sharing issues between voice and data using a feature called “Quality of Service” or QoS. A Router with QoS capability allows you to give Voice Traffic priority over the rest of the Data traffic on the network, ensuring continuous quality voice calls even when peers are attempting to download/upload large files, listen to music, etc. Note: Voice traffic should always get priority!
Let’s say you are at the office and are downloading a very large file. If no one at the office is on the phone then all the network bandwidth is free and your file is downloading at a pretty good clip. But during your download let’s say you notice first one then multiple employees starting to answer inbound calls or initiating outbound phone calls. On a network with a properly configured QoS router you might notice the download speed of the large file you have been trying to access slowing down. But at the same time you notice everyone who is having a phone conversation rocking along unimpeded. That’s QoS. Network Administrators have to strike a fine balance when configuring QoS on the network router. Whoever is in charge of making decisions about QoS settings on the network will have to work within the confines of available bandwidth while remaining realistic about anticipated combined voice and data bandwidth needs. Bottom line is sometimes the existing bandwidth is just not sufficient to meet demand or the company network has slowed to a frustrating productivity hampering crawl. The company has no choice but to increase the monthly spend and secure a sufficient amount of bandwidth.
So is your existing network ready for an anticipated VoIP deployment? Does your existing router offer QoS? And If not which router(s) should you consider purchasing? How much bandwidth should you commit to? Answering these questions requires careful consideration and a lot depends on the bandwidth/quality trade-off that best fits your company’s unique needs.
Please contact the friendly professionals at Exabar for a free informal consultation. We look forward to visiting with you!
Denver Griffith is an experienced Telecommunications Professional that holds the position of Vice President of Sales with Exabar Telecom based in Austin Texas. firstname.lastname@example.org