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Do I Have Enough Bandwidth For VoIP?

Updated on February 7, 2013
VoIP Bandwidth Consumption
VoIP Bandwidth Consumption

VoIP – Comparing the Past and the Present

In the early days of the Internet, VoIP was something of a rarity due to the nascent development of the technology as well as poor Internet connectivity. In those days, dial-up connections were the norm with frequent packet losses and low bandwidth. In fact, the TCP/IP protocol was specifically designed to work on unreliable networks with a great deal of effort placed into being able to recover from a dropped packet or dealing with factors such as jitter. These days though the Internet is a very different beast from what it used to be. Broadband penetration in the United States is extremely high even though it lags behind several European Union countries in this regard. Due to this, the raw bandwidth for VoIP is easily available to each and every user. Even those on starter Internet connections can talk to other people over the Internet with these.

A few problems can occur however if you are using your wireless data connection instead of a wired one. Even though 3G and 4G speeds are more than sufficient for a clear VoIP call, wireless Internet has an entirely different nature. There is greater latency and the connection drops frequently – and this is bad news for real-time communication protocols like VoIP. However, Wi-Fi picks up the slack easily and delivers the same quality of VoIP calls that you will obtain with a wired connection.

Business VoIP Requirements

The only entities that truly need to worry about sufficient bandwidth for VoIP activities are organizations and businesses with lots of people using the system at the same time. Since the amount of bandwidth required scales linearly with the number of people talking at the same time, every organization needs to keep an eye out on VoIP bandwidth consumption and provide more as and when necessary. IT administrators would also do well to insulate the VoIP network from any other Internet activity that can consume bandwidth in the background. Take a simple large file download for example – left unchecked, it will completely clog up the pipes and degrade your VoIP experience to nothing.

For this reason, IT administrators should implement a Virtual Land or a VLAN system that keeps VoIP traffic on an entirely different virtual network that allows it to be insulated from the rest of the organization. This way, you can rest assured that there is always sufficient bandwidth for communications regardless of whatever else is happening on the network. The bandwidth allocation for this separate LAN network needs to be constantly adjusted upwards as your organization grows. Your local hosted San Francisco VoIP provider will be able to help you out with the best practices in this regard and this will help you keep your business PBX phones running smoothly.

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