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Enterprise VoIP - Your Network or Ours?

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With M5 VoIP we connect our clients directly to our voice data center over a private point-to-point circuit, usually a T1.  Each client has their own dedicated primary and back up connectivity. This direct connection to us allows us to monitor and manage the circuits and guarantee high quality calls.

But as new internet options have become available some offices may be interested in using their own internet connections, either to save money, for smaller offices with fewer employees, or for remote workers located anywhere.

"People don't even know you're not in the office. We have phones all over the world and in every continent in the world (with the exception of Antarctica). Running on all sorts of bandwidth connections - from Gigabit Fiber to wireless mifi's to 56k dialup.... We get compliments about how someone was able to do something in a faraway land they never could before."   - Ray Lieu, VP of Service Development

This generally works great, but you are still at the mercy of the public internet. Some legwork has to be done to ensure your internet connection can handle VoIP calls. You have to look at things like available bandwidth, quality of connection and ways to prioritize or segment voice traffic (also known as Quality of Service). Ray continues on..
"Everyone will have a slightly different experience, and while I would say my experiences have all been positive - we certainly do get the occasional customer who has a bad network situation."

This is related to available bandwidth and bandwidth quality.

Prior to making the switch to VoIP, you should calculate the total bandwidth needed to send and receive your calls. You can do this by multiplying the number of anticipated simultaneous calls times the bandwidth required for voice calls. This varies between approximately 30Kbits per second to 90Kbits per second and should be added on top of existing data needs.

New internet options are becoming available with more bandwidth than ever: Fios, Cable Wideband, Microwave, WiMax, you name it. But many of these are asynchronous connections, they have quite limited upload capacity in comparison to download. This can cause big problems with VoIP.

Franko Franicievich on the M5 technology team says that along with ensuring there is adequate bandwidth is ensuring that the bandwidth used is of high-quality. A few things to look at are latency, jitter, and packet loss.

Latency is caused by distance between the office and switching stations. It causes a delay on the voice, like old long distance phone calls. It can take half a second or more to hear the other side. If you get this, there's usually not much that can be done except to switch internet providers.

Jitter is often caused by overused links, or heavy web downloads. Check to see if your standard office data usage is higher than expected; from big downloads, streaming, etc. Otherwise, it might be the ISP is oversubscribing the link or exchange you're on - this is a common problem with cable and FIOS. You might have to upgrade your connection or switch ISP's.

The network team at M5 can help you look at all these, and let you know if you should be okay, if you have to upgrade your connection or switch to a M5 dedicated line. Ray leaves us with this advice.. "I see dedicated connectivity as call quality insurance. Get it if you never want to have to think about call quality issues." For most businesses it makes sense to have one less thing to worry about.