Saturday, September 5, 2015

Common Business VoIP Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them

VoIP is great for business.
A lot of businesses are making the VoIP switch mainly because of the cost-savings that the technology has become synonymous with. This is well and good for the business and the industry, in general. VoIP does present real and significant opportunities to cut costs and make other business functions run more efficiently.

However, it is of utmost importance to also understand the technical requirements of digital telecommunications, as well the possible problems that come with it. Some of these problems can be dealt with from your end, without resorting to tech support help. While there is nothing wrong in relying on outside help, this could take time and disrupt your business' day-to-day functions. It is always ideal to know which problems you can deal with and how.

VoIP Problem 1: No Dial Tone or No Audio
The lack of dial tone and/or the lack of audio is probably the most alarming issue you can experience. This usually happens at the start, when you've just made the switch. The setup – done by your IT team or your service provider's – may be misconfigured, resulting in zero dial tone and/or zero audio.

What could be the problem then?

If you don't hear a dial tone, your problem could be rooted to your phone system's provisioning. Your tech people should have provisioned your phones automatically. Your phone needs to be recognized by the system. Likewise, make sure that your router port forwarding is set up correctly. Typical ports used are 5060-5090 and 16384-16482.

The lack of audio is also rooted to misconfigured router port forwarding. Voice uses ports 16384-16482. Check to make sure you forward to the correct ports.

VoIP Problem 2: Choppy Voice
In actuality, lack of audio or dial tone is not that much of a problem. The root cause and solution for this is pretty much clear-cut. This is not the case when it comes to choppy voice.

Choppy voice or audio is an annoying problem that may recur every now and then. You need to get to the root cause and implement fixes, albeit temporary. Otherwise, it will compromise your digital telecommunications system and make it less effective.

For most cases, choppy voice is caused by insufficient bandwidth. VoIP is necessarily bandwidth-heavy since voice and video data packets are transmitted wirelessly using internet protocol. When your business relies on VoIP, it is important that your internet connection is reliable and robust. You should have ample broadband allotment, as well as proper cabling and hardware.

When choppy voice occurs, your broadband performance is the first place you check. You can stay on top of this through third party services, such as VoIP Spear, which test your MOS, latency, jitter and packet loss, among other performance parameters. When you have this set up, you can make everyday assessments about your VoIP's performance, particularly if your network can take the demands of digital communications.

If your network falls below par, the best solution is to find a more reliable service provider. Ask your peers and colleagues for recommendations.

Of course, switching providers takes some time – with the paperwork and all. You might also be held back by contracts and all. If this is the case, you can implement temporary solutions that can ease the problem a bit.

First thing to do is to reconfigure your QoS. VoIP makes use of voice and video applications so you should prioritize these. These are bandwidth-heavy and you would need to lower the priority allotted to other bandwidth-heavy applications, such as gaming.

Another solution is to tweak your codecs and use compression that does not require much bandwidth. Use the G.729 codec, which use minimal bandwidth while retaining good audio quality. Another thing you can do is to reconfigure your jitter buffer to increase its depth.

VoIP Problem 3: Echo
Echo is another annoying problem. However, this one can easily be solved.

Most of the time, your equipment is the cause of echo problems. It may be a matter of just lowering the volume of your speakers so your headset does not amplify the audio. If this does not solve the problem, have a technician check your phone unit. You might need to have it replaced.

Other VoIP Problems
There may be other issues that you'd encounter every now and then. For the most part, these may be latency related issues that can be resolved through careful assessment and selection of service providers.

Always stay on top of your business VoIP through 24/7/365 persistent and consistent call monitoring. This is your first line of security and ensures that, should there be crucial dips and issues with your service, you can do something about it before it affects your day-to-day operation.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Why Choose Cloud VoIP

We've come to a point when one of the best things that you can do for your business is to make that VoIP switch. There's absolutely no reason now to not take advantage of the cost benefits and productivity improvements that come with VoIP – especially with the increasing popularity of cloud VoIP.

No Hardware Required
On-premises VoIP requires a huge investment in hardware. You need to purchase an IP-PBX or at least a gateway device to work with your old PBX. You'd want SIP phones to replace your analog phones or ATA devices for them. Plus, there's your network cabling to think about. You should at least have Cat5e cables.

This can amount to a lot – which is why it has taken time for business to make a massive shift to VoIP, even with all its benefits.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case today. You can enjoy the benefits of VoIP without needing to make as much hardware investment. You can make do with a basic setup, wherein you use softphones via desktops and BYODs (Bring Your Own Devices).

For the most part, you will just need to invest in upgrading your network cables. Other than that, you won't need anything else. You can switch to VoIP within a month, and without the usual hardware investment.

Expert Managed Telecommunications, At No Additional Cost
You also need expert manpower when you switch to on-premises VoIP. Your service provider will help you out a bit at the start. But eventually, the maintenance and management of your system would fall on you. You then need to hire or train at least one staff member to focus on this. The health of your VoIP system is then also dependent on the quality of help that you hire.

This is now a non-issue with cloud VoIP. With your IP-PBX, switches and the rest on a cloud, your system is now managed by industry experts who are focused on VoIP. This is definitely a level up from being dependent on a person or two who you can afford.

Scalable VoIP
With cloud VoIP also comes incomparable scalability. You no longer have to plan and spend five years into the future. You don't have to project your capacities five years ahead, and invest in being able to fulfill these capacities.

Cloud VoIP allows you to add and deduct users, as needed. You can also add or deduct features, as needed. You only have to factor in changes in your monthly or yearly fees.

The implication here is that you can funnel your funds elsewhere. When your telecommunications costs just boil down to monthly or yearly fees, you can invest in growing your business. Put funds into marketing and production. There's no need to project and spend for your telecommunications too far ahead into the future.

Grow Your Business
One of the main targets of cloud VoIP are small- to medium-scale businesses, and they are buying. This is not surprising.

There are several means by which cloud VoIP can help a business grow. Telecommunications savings are just the start. Yes, you can do a lot more with the money you save through VoIP. You can invest in key areas, such as marketing and sales.

Your team's productivity will also likely increase with the different features and capabilities of VoIP. You can work and communicate from anywhere, and collaborate with team members. Communications convergences means that data is accessible across different platforms. The flow of information is faster.

All this is available to you at just a fraction of what it used to cost to get into VoIP. This is a great opportunity to build on the potential of you business.

VoIP Monitoring
When you want to guarantee that you get the most out of your cloud VoIP, make sure that you implement VoIP monitoring. Your cloud VoIP service is likely to have this running in the background too. As a customer, it is also important to stay on top of your VoIP's performance. So, run your own call performance tests 24/7/365. VoIP Spear offers consumer-scale and commercial-scale call monitoring, where key factors, such as MOS, latency, packet loss and jitter, are charted and analyzed. You get regular reports, as well as alerts when something goes wrong.

With VoIP Spear, you keep apace with your business' telecommunications.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

VoIP in 2015: What to Watch Out For

As 2014 comes to a close, we look back to a great year in telecommunications and ask: can things be any better? The answer is a resounding yes!

By the looks of it, VoIP is hardly done with spearheading all the wonderful changes we have been enjoying, in terms of call quality, ease of installation and management, unified communications, and affordability. The industry is still on the cusp of really exploding and taking over telecommunications as we know it! Here are some of what we see happening in VoIP in 2015.

VoIP on the Cloud
There will be a massive move to the clouds. Cloud hosted VoIP is the more affordable option, especially for small- and medium-sized that have just decided to give VoIP a try. There are a lot of benefits in switching to VoIP. However, installation and technology management are the immediate issues for companies that do not have huge budgets for telecommunications.

Cloud-hosted VoIP is not just about affordability. Companies also benefit from the ease and speed of transition. Maintenance and technology management are also handled by the service provider, which takes off the burden and cost of premises-based telecommunications that requires expensive hardware and a dedicated team managing them.

At the same time, you benefit from scalability, integration with other communications platforms (unified communication) through your data network, and reliability.

So, in 2015, don't be surprised when more businesses make the switch. As the services and driving technologies of cloud-hosted VoIP improve, moving toward this is the best choice for VoIP newcomers and old-time VoIP users.

Cloud Platform Integration
The VoIP trend toward the cloud will also lead to increased integration with other applications on the cloud. This is a natural course in business VoIP. There are many possibilities in the integration of other data-centric technologies with digital communications. We are now seeing this in cloud-hosted CRM and productivity software.

Mobile VoIP
Mobile VoIP has also made headway in 2014, and will continue to be a major force in the industry. The driving force here seems to be the rising use of mobile gadgets (corporate property or BYOD aka bring your own device) within the work setting. With increased mobility through mobile devices, it is a productivity ideal to have essential members of the organization reachable even when not within the office premises.

Through mobile VoIP, this is made possible through VoIP applications. As the rest of the apps on your phone, coordinating between team members and partners then becomes a function done within your data network, separate from mobile voice.

With increasing availability of Wi-Fi and the decreasing cost of data services, this will be utilized more by organizations in 2015

VoIP Security Threats
And as with any online technology that is becoming increasingly popular, VoIP is now a target of malicious attacks. This ranges from the usual theft of service and the more vicious denial of service to malware and call interception.

There are vulnerabilities within the technology that require diligent monitoring from third party services, such as VoIP Spear. You need to monitor the different performance parameters in order to pinpoint lags in quality that might be from attacks.

VoIP Spear
The trend toward hosted VoIP pinpoints an increasing need for third party services that provide back-end analytics. The advantage of VoIP Spear is the ease and cost of implementation, management and maintenance. It is reliable service that provides regular reports and alerts when something is off. The service is perfect for businesses, regardless of size, that require consistent quality performance from their phone system.

In 2015, there's a lot more in store for VoIP Spear users. They can look forward to a new year of excellent VoIP testing and monitoring. Check out their website: