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How to Monitor Downtime of VoIP

Updated on May 31, 2011

Monitoring VoIP Downtime

It's no secret that VoIP brings tremendous advantages to the table for a business which relies on intense customer support and long distance calling. So much so that more companies than ever are switching to IP PBX systems and it's rare to find a firm which hasn't done so in one form or the other already. However, there is one issue which must be kept in mind. Unlike the PSTN system, which once set up requires no more handling, a VoIP system must be constantly monitored. This is because it can share the same network as your regular Internet connection and VoIP being a real time application, is extremely time sensitive. Steps need to be taken to ensure that it's getting the bandwidth it needs.

Also unlike regular phones, VoIP can grow out of its boots. As your firm grows, the Internet pipes connecting your calling infrastructure to the outside world need to get bigger and bigger to accommodate the extra VoIP traffic. Without that, you'll suffer from dropped calls, delayed responses and jitter. To prevent this you need to monitor VoIP on a continuous basis. In this article we learn how to do that and what factors to watch out for.

Using Hardware to Monitor VoIP
Using Hardware to Monitor VoIP

How to Monitor VoIP

Two steps are very important when monitoring VoIP. The first is creating a separate channel for VoIP data separate from your regular Internet traffic. This can be done by physically having a separate connection or by implementing a virtual solution via Virtual LANs or VLANs. This allows you to observe and manage the two streams separately from each other. With VLANs you can implement rules regarding which traffic to prioritize.

Once you've separated the two fundamentally different networks, you have to start monitoring the VoIP traffic for signals which indicate that something needs attention. For example, you can monitor packet loss and jitter which give you the state of your VoIP network's health. You can use VoIP monitoring software to alert you when certain thresholds are crossed so you can do something about it. Of course, as an administrator you have to understand what the problem is. There's no point adding extra capacity if a configuration problem is preventing VoIP traffic from flowing smoothly.

HD voice IP PBX services will naturally use up a little more bandwidth than regular VoIP, but most networks can easily handle the extra load. You can outsource some of the management to a third party and create SIP PBX accounts with them. Given the possible complexity of setting up your own VoIP system, this might actually be the best option.

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