7 Steps to Reach the Full Potential of Your VoIP Network
Almost 40% of small businesses have ditched their traditional phone lines and said hello to VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol), saving 40% on local calls and 90% on international calls while enjoying a productivity boost.
If you’re one of them, or you’re just considering VoIP integration for your business, then you are probably already aware that the VoIP communication system uses data packets to digitally transmit voice calls via the internet.
Given that voice and data travel together over the same lines, they are also sensitive to the changes that take place within data transmissions. As a result, call quality may be affected due to internet slowdowns and lower-than-required bandwidth. In some cases, when businesses must restructure their physical offices, it’s necessary to buy a lot of Ethernet cables—even though they are adopting a wireless network. (More on that later.)
If you want your VoIP system to perform extremely well, then it must be fully provisioned so that you can get the most out of it.
This guide will teach you how to do just that. Today, we will discuss how to optimize your VoIP system to avoid fluctuation and network issues.
First, let’s choose the devices we want to optimize.
1. Pick Your Calling Devices First
Before we discuss how to solve hardware and network issues, let’s first determine the devices you and your employees use to make VoIP calls.
You can either set dedicated VoIP phones on employees’ desks or install VoIP-specific software on their computers to make direct calls. For more flexible options, you can install a VoIP calling function on their smartphones, too, which can benefit remote workers or help you offer 24/7 customer service.
First, get a clear idea of which devices you use, as they will set a foundation for your further network requirements.
2. Buy High-Quality Ethernet Cables
Oh, yes, VoIP is popular for cutting wiring costs, but Ethernet cables are still necessary to connect some devices to the internet. High-quality Ethernet cables play a vital role in upgrading your VoIP services. However, not all Ethernet cables offer seamless networking.
For example, the Cat 6 cables are popular for VoIP because they support 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) at 250 MHz bandwidth for up to 328 feet. They cost around $90 to $170 per 1,000 feet. Cat 5e cables are also a good option if you can’t afford Cat 6; they support 100-MHz bandwidth.
3. Deploy Power-over-Ethernet (PoE)
As the name suggests, PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) supplies power to the device via the same wires used for data or voice transfer. It provides efficient power to PoE-enabled devices, like VoIP. It’s extremely easy to use and safe, as well.
One of the simplest ways to ensure that all your VoIP devices receive an adequate power supply is to deploy PoE cables. These extract the required power from the Internet to balance the power supply of your VoIP network. Many companies use PoE for IP cameras, wireless access points, LED lights, and other equipment that demand data and power simultaneously.
4. Manage VoIP Traffic with VLAN
Multiple services running at the same time on a VoIP network may impact the performance of various communication methods, such as video conferencing, which needs more bandwidth. To nurture the best of quality of service (QoS), you must separate data and voice traffic with a virtual local area network (VLAN).
VLANs prioritize data traffic from data-sensitive applications to avoid network delays, improve performance, and maintain QoS. They also prevent VoIP devices from competing with other network traffic, thereby allowing you to troubleshoot VoIP issues. With VLANs, you don’t have to worry about glitches, lag, or dropped calls.
5. VoIP Firewall Configuration
Since the Internet lies at the center of the VoIP system, it’s exposed to cyber-attacks, malicious viruses, worms, and other denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that can easily manipulate your Internet and VoIP protocols.
Undoubtedly, your VoIP service provider offers secure networks, but there’s no harm in taking extra measures to tighten the locks against attackers.
The VoIP firewall scans traffic by monitoring at layers three and four. This means it investigates packets and packet segments coming from network traffic. This allows the VoIP firewall to block threats, while handling high-security levels for high-traffic volumes.
6. Check Your Router Capability
What’s the capacity of your router? How many Mbps of traffic can your router manage without a single glitch?
Basically, your VoIP phone service providers network handles voice and video data, each of which uses different megabits per second.
Let’s say one out of every five people uses a voice call with 1-megabits-per-second, and one out of every 7 people uses a video conference call with 100 megabits per second. Now, multiply the number of voice callers and video callers, and then multiply that number again by a minimum of 5 Mbps. That’s the amount of Mbps capacity your router must have to manage traffic without any issues.
7. Measure Security Levels with VPNs
Last but not least, VoIP’s transport mechanism, called “Session-Initiated Protocol (SIP)”, is still sensitive to various security issues. Technically, it’s easy to secure SIP by encrypting the stream and running it through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). But that’s limited to a single call. What about multiple calls at the same time?
That’s something your service provider must take care of. Discuss the VoIP traffic you receive, and how the vendor can offer an adequate security solution. You and your service provider must ensure that call quality is not affected due to encryption measures.
Achieving High-Quality VoIP
A VoIP network requires proper connections, adequate bandwidth, and the right network equipment to perform at its peak. Sometimes, it sounds like too much trouble, but if you look at the cost savings and flexibility you will achieve after implementing VoIP; such troubles will seem worth your investment.
So, if you are switching to VoIP or facing issues with your current VoIP network, cross-check the above-mentioned infrastructure and ensure that your VoIP network is fully optimized.