The switch to internet-based calls can present some challenges, with poor call quality chief among them.

October 31, 2019

5 Min Read
VoIP
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Sam O’Brien

By Sam O’Brien, RingCentral

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngSo, you’ve transferred your company’s telephone service to voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP). You’ll naturally be delighted with the cost-savings. VoIP can and should be a smart investment for your business.

But the switch to internet-based calls can present some challenges, with poor call quality chief among them.

If you’ve noticed a drop in call quality, you might also have found that business has become frustratingly slow. Customer relations – which you were hoping to improve – may be suffering, and your staff are probably becoming increasingly frustrated.

Here are six quick and easy ways to improve the quality of your VoIP calls.

1. Invest in quality headsets. Problems with the quality of your VoIP calls could be hardware-related. Quite simply, if you’re relying on a sub-standard kit, you won’t fully enjoy the benefits of using VoIP.

Cheap headsets are cheap for a reason. The microphone, comfort level and material durability may all be poor, but where cheap manufacturing really lets you down is with poor quality cabling.

Cables that are thin and poorly insulated will have a noticeable impact on audio clarity. It’s worth it to invest in new headsets that have short cables with a good amount of insulation. And if those cables look damaged or frayed, fix them. Simple.

2. Get rid of that jitterbug. A VoIP system breaks up the soundwaves from your voice into different data packages. They should then be sent to the receiver in chronological order, should being the key word here.

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However, your call may suffer from improper queueing. Maybe there are network errors or poor configuration. Whatever the reason, data packages sometimes arrive in the wrong order. Your data (your voice) will arrive scrambled and low in quality. This is known as jitter.

If it’s a minor issue, you might get away with simply upgrading to a Category 6 (CAT6) Ethernet cable. Otherwise, fix the common jitter problem by installing and using jitter buffers. Packages will be more organized and delivered in a constant, evenly spaced stream.

3. Upgrade to a VoIP-prioritized router. One of the biggest mistakes VoIP callers make is using their small business router for everything. If you’re using the same router for data and voice calls, then it has to be a powerful router that can handle those demands. Otherwise, the quality of your VoIP calls will suffer.

Prioritize your VoIP traffic. If that’s not possible with your current router, get a new one. Specifically, a VoIP-optimized one.

These range in price and can get pretty costly, but choose a model that best reflects the size of your business and your VoIP traffic. It’s a good idea to buy a router that supports Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and virtual LAN (VLAN), as these added extras are sure to improve data reliability.

4. Ditch the Wi-Fi for DECT. Countless devices within your building could interfere with your Wi-Fi connection. The strength of that Wi-Fi connection will also vary throughout your building. If you’re accessing your VoIP through your cell phone’s Wi-Fi connection, then you won’t be …

… getting a consistent call quality.

When you’re making calls away from the desk, use a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phone instead. DECT has its own radio frequency, which means there will be far less interruption and you can get the quality of call you need anywhere on the floor.

5. Have a gastric bandwidth operation … The bandwidth available to you during VoIP calls also affects audio quality. Try the bandwidth diet before you look to buy any new hardware and software.

Making more of your bandwidth available for VoIP calls should increase VoIP audio quality. Sure, that can be done by purchasing a better internet connection, but cutting down on your bandwidth use is easier than you might think.

First, review day-to-day tasks within your business. Simultaneous calls could go – and that’s just for starters. You can also install software which pauses all downloads when VoIP calls are being made. Even better, reduce the number of bandwidth-guzzling programs that activate as your computer starts up. Or why not transfer files and organize backups at night, when demands on the system are normally lower.

Run regular network tests and find out when there’s high daily bandwidth usage. Planning your calls around your bandwidth could be a very easy and very cheap way to improve call quality.

6. Buy new compression software. VoIP networks receive and send digital signals, and those signals are compressed before they go anywhere. That’s done in two ways: lossless compression, which reduces data size without any quality loss, usually by removing unnecessary metadata; and lossy compression, which removes data from the original file. We’ll focus on lossy compression here since it’s better suited for audio call signals.

Lossy compression reduces the bandwidth and removes background noise from VoIP calls, which is great, but too much of a good thing quickly becomes a problem. Your compression software could be a little too hardcore for your VoIP calls. It might be compressing too much data and making your data signals unintelligible.

Consider using new compression software which is a little kinder on your voice. You’ll notice an improvement in call quality.

Your new VoIP could be a little temperamental to begin with. That being said, once you get the set-up right, it’s absolutely worth the effort. Hopefully these quick and easy ways to improve your call quality will get your system pitch-perfect.

Sam O’Brien is the senior website optimization and user experience manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at RingCentral, a global VOIP systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. Follow him on LinkedIn or @RingCentral on Twitter.

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