Sunday, October 5, 2014

How to Fix Common VoIP Problems

When you rely on your VoIP for business communications, it is important to be able to fix certain issues internally first, before calling for support. Reliance on tech support for some VoIP issues that you can handle yourself can make you lose hours, if not days.

Here's a quick guide to help you.

Echo. Echo is an easy-to-fix VoIP problem when you know what causes the echo that you're dealing with. It could be any of these three: acoustic, electromagnetic disruption and equipment.

If it's an acoustic problem, you would just need to reduce the volume of your speakers or earpiece. You can tell that it's an acoustic echo simply by covering the mouthpiece. If it reduces the echo, then you've found your problem.

Electromagnetic disruption, on the other hand, is caused by equipment that's too near to your phone. To see if this is the cause of your VoIP echo, try to move your phone away. Did the echo disappear? If so, to solve your problem, you just need to move your phone away from typical sources of interference, such as your computer and router.

If all else fails, there is likely a problem with your equipment. You can check by switching phones. If there's no echo when you use a different phone, then you should just replace the one you're currently using.

Bandwidth. Bandwidth is somehow a general problem in VoIP. Insufficient bandwidth can cause a number of problems – we will mention some of these later.

A way to diagnose bandwidth problems is to check out your setup. Do you experience call problems when you are running other programs that eat a lot of bandwidth, such as gaming? Are there other computers connected to your network when you experience problems?

The first thing to do is to turn off and disconnect everything else. You are testing for bandwidth problems here so you need to isolate the issue. Disconnect all connecting computers. Close all other applications that use up bandwidth. Does this make your calls sound better?

If so, then, the problem really does have something to do with your bandwidth. You can implement a stopgap solution at the start. Here, you need to configure your router's QoS so that you prioritize voice and video applications. Voice apps, of course, pertain to programs that you use for VoIP. Video, on the other, is for when you use video conferencing. This may be optional if you don't really use that feature.
Eventually, especially if you use VoIP for business, you will need to upgrade your bandwidth allotment or dedicate a separate network service for your VoIP. It is problematic to have to contend with bandwidth issues. As a technology, VoIP will really eat up bandwidth. You have to be prepared for this from the get-go.

Choppy Voice. Choppy voice is one of the bandwidth issues that we mentioned earlier. You need to deal with this similarly as the above mentioned. If reconfiguring the QoS does not work, then you will need to check with your network administrator. There might be incompatibilities in how you're set up.

Jitter and Jitter Buffer. Jitter and jitter buffer are VoIP staples. Regardless of the quality of your network and VoIP service provider, jitter and jitter buffer will always be a factor in how your VoIP works.

Jitter is the different pacing of how packets arrive to the receiver. This is a natural occurrence. To make up for it and ensure that conversations can be understood, the jitter buffer gets to work. The buffer holds the voice packets before releasing them at a controlled pace. This is where problems might occur.

It could be that your jitter buffer is configured incorrectly. This will cause poor call quality and packet loss. If your buffer is too small, there's not enough to retain packets up until they can be released at an even pace. So, packets may be dropped. If it is too big, packet delivery may be delayed.

You can address these problems by configuring your dynamic jitter buffer. There is a static jitter buffer built into your router – you cannot change this. But you can configure the dynamic one via the software control panel. Ideally, the buffer depth should be at 30 to 50 milliseconds.

Monitor Your VoIP. If there's one major takeaway here, it's that you need to monitor your VoIP 24/7. For businesses that rely on VoIP communications, this is an imperative. Services of companies, like VoIP Spear, will test your VoIP quality round-the-clock. This means that you are on top of issues right away. You can do something about it, or you can decide to forward the matter to tech support.