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How Much Data Plan Usage Does VoIP Account For?

Updated on May 2, 2013
VoIP Data Consumption
VoIP Data Consumption | Source

Bandwidth and Data Caps

In the early days of wireless Internet, telecom carriers put no restrictions on the usage of data by their customers. This was in part due to the underdeveloped nature of mobile Internet services in the first place. With the advent of the iPhone, all of that changed. Rich content and mobile streaming became commonplace. Many feel that the large screen combined with the use of touch sensitive applications served as the turning point when carriers realized that they could make a killing off making bandwith a scarce commodity. One by one, all of them have implemented data caps with the exception of telcos like T-Mobile who don't have much of a market share in the first place and are using it as a selling point.

But if they ever gain market share comparable to Verizon and AT&T, they too will implement data caps on some level. From this perspective, it's critical to understand how much bandwidth VoIP uses so as to make sure you don't go over the limit. Overage charges vary from company to company, but they can get pretty expensive if you don't pay attention.

VoIP and Bandwidth

Contrary to expectations, VoIP doesn't really use up all that much bandwidth. A greater emphasis is placed on reliability and reduced latency and jitter rather than the sheer volume of data transferred. If you compare a simple VoIP call to something like playing a YouTube video, the latter outstrips the former by a huge margin. It is unlikely for a customer's usage of VoIP to make a significant dent in their data caps unless they are already dangerously close to exceeding them.

Of course, to an extent this depends on the specific codecs that you use. One of the benefits of VoIP is that it can encode your voice by taking a large number of samples thereby increasing the sampling frequency. This results in more of your voice being transmitted. But it also needs more data. Nevertheless, even some of the most high quality audio codecs don't take up as much space as a YouTube video.

This will change of course if you're a business using a hosted SIP VoIP provider. If this is the case, you will have to constantly reevaluate the amount of data that VoIP is using and expand your bandwidth plans and reconsider your internal LANs to handle the traffic. Hosted SIP PBX systems can help free you from the day-to-day management of VoIP infrastructure. Contact your service provider to find out how.

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