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.