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VoIP Bandwidth Needs

Updated on July 2, 2013

VoIP and Internet Connectivity

There was a time when most of the country was still using a dial-up connection. During this period, VoIP was regarded as an extravagant Internet application that hogged bandwidth and was slow and laggy. In a way this was a good thing because it forced innovation and the development of new sophisticated audio codecs along with protocols that minimized the use of bandwidth and created extremely efficient processes. These days however, dial-up is a thing of the past. Most of the US is now enclosed in high-speed broadband connectivity with the prospects only getting better. But VoIP retains its capability to perform even in the most bandwidth starved conditions.

Strictly speaking the amount of bandwidth required for a VoIP call will vary depending on the specific audio codec used. In the worst-case scenario when the speeds are extremely slow, the performance can gracefully degrade to accommodate even a 64 kbps connection! In an era where the typical broadband speeds are in excess of several Mbps, this is a requirement that will be met anywhere.

The true test of VoIP comes not on traditional wired networks or even on Wi-Fi, but on mobile data systems. Data networks provided by the telecom companies have traditionally been slow and error-prone even though their broadband with output is sufficient for mobile video streaming.

VoIP's Bandwidth Requirements
VoIP's Bandwidth Requirements | Source

VoIP and the New Mobile Networks

Over the years, VoIP has become more and more viable on mobile data networks as telecom carriers upgrade their networks from 2G, to 3G, and now to 4G. This latest iteration promises to revolutionize the delivery of real-time Internet services such as video chat and voice. Verizon recently disclosed that its rollout of 4G LTE was complete covering most of the United States. Other carriers will soon follow suit. It'll be interesting to see how the higher speeds gel with the recent imposition of bandwidth data caps.

For those who still don't have access to the latest devices that are capable of leveraging these new networks, there is still the good old Wi-Fi infrastructure to fall back on. After ethernet connectivity, Wi-Fi is still the most reliable, ubiquitous, cost-effective, and easy to access technology over which to use VoIP phones. The future seems to hold a scenario where major devices are able to provide the hardware to automatically transfer hosted VoIP calls from Wi-Fi over to data networks seamlessly without breaking them.

One thing is for sure however – the days of limited bandwidth for VoIP are pretty much over. Unless you're using an Internet heavy application that downloads large files in the background for example, you will certainly not run into any bandwidth limitations when using VoIP in any normal scenario.


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    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 4 years ago from India

      Useful hub on VoIP and Internet Connectivity. Voted up.

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      ...and now, if telecom groups could bring their prices of data usage down from the sky into a more realistic price range - I'm about to nix my smartphones and carry my kindle - that way, if I want to use data, I can access it almost anywhere when I'm on the go. Nicely done. Up/interesting/follow. Peace. Kawi.