What is Ruining Your Call Quality?
You may have heard the term "packets" to describe pieces of data sent from one device to another over a network. TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) refers to the system of rules, or protocol, for sending these packets. While TCP is designed for efficiency in retransmitting lost data packets, the benefits of this system do not always transfer to voice communications (VoIP).
Below, we'll look at six ways in which voice communications can be negatively affected by various network conditions.
Imagine a file transfer which normally takes 10 seconds. If there were a 10% data loss due to congested network conditions, this might result in the file transfer now taking 1 second longer to complete—a barely noticeable consequence.
Translate that situation to a real-time communication and it is a much different story. A 10% loss could be imagined as missing one out of every ten words of a phone conversation. VoIP is not tolerant to packet loss.
Common Signs of Packet Loss:
Jitter or frequent gaps in audio
Drop-outs, clipped words, or entire phrases cutting out
One side completely disconnecting (one-way audio)
Resource limitation. Packets can buffer when there is not enough bandwidth on a link, and if a device runs out of buffers, the remaining packets will be discarded. Check the memory of network devices and overall network bandwidth to ensure there are enough resources to move packets.
Network congestion. Observe the network-intensity of applications being used on the same computer and analyze whether there may be too many devices on the same network competing for bandwidth.
Security permissions. Check that network firewalls or ACLs (Access Control Lists) are not configured in such a way that they are automatically dropping packets from CloudTalk services. The domain
*cloudTalk.ioshould be excluded from inspection or policing on ports
Poor hardware. Does your office setup rely on low-quality cables, modems, routers or headsets? You also might want to assess the extent to which your processing power or rates may be limited by routers.
Wireless instead of wired networks. Wireless (WiFi) networks deal with increased latency due to wireless interference, distance between devices, and lack of stability (walls can slow down your WiFi, for example). Consider the benefits of using wired connections where possible.
Other network/software configurations. Check the settings of additional software firewalls and Network Address Translation (NAT), which can be found through Network Discovery settings on Windows via Advanced sharing options. You can also consider implementing QoS settings to properly prioritize voice communications.
In an effort to decrease strain on the network, data packets are sometimes broken into even smaller pieces and sent over different paths to their destination. This can result in packet pieces which arrive in a different order than they were sent. For other types of data, this does not present a problem, but for real-time voice communications, this can result in poor or scrambled audio.
Wireless instead of wired networks
Latency is a measure of lag, and should be familiar to anyone who streams games or movies online. Current technology will always involve some amount of latency. It is impossible to receive an input of data (like voice), then wrap, analyze, send through the air to another location, and unwrap the packet conversion of said data instantaneously. The goal here is to minimize the delay—in the gap between the speaker and listener, as well as in the time it takes us to process and convert voice input into data packets.
Wireless instead of wired networks
Other network/software configurations. (See Packet Loss)
Distance. Keep in mind that the further two endpoints are from each other, the longer data will take to be transmitted.
Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) prioritize services such as web surfing while neglecting VoIP. Transporting voice packets requires an additional set of Internet Protocols that your ISP may not be providing.
Inadequate Service Plan. Most ISPs including cable and DSL high-speed providers offer business-class internet. Talk to your provider about whether your plan is the best suited for voice communications.
Limitations caused by routers are one of the most common factors to affect call quality. Small businesses often use one internet connection for both voice and other data traffic. Therefore, if the router is not configured to prioritize VoIP traffic, call quality can be impacted by other interactions taking place over the network. For example, a file download could downgrade the quality of a phone call taking place if the router doesn't have the instructions or capability to allocate resources for the phone call.
As VoIP is only around ten years old, traditional network setups can sometimes neglect the unique demands voice communications can make on a business. If a company decides to route both data and voice over the same network, improper network design and configuration will lead to call quality issues.
Network Improperly Configured. Consult a technician who is trained in cloud and/or VoIP systems and check out our System & Network Requirements article to review the basic requirements to run CloudTalk.
Have more questions about call quality? Contact our Support team. We're always happy to help!