If you are considering to deploy a hosted PBX or a voice-over-IP service in your office, then there are a few factors that you should first address. When you decide to switch from traditional telephone service to VoIP, you require a proper switch, router, sufficient bandwidth and a quality battery backup solution for avoiding power failures.
Following are the key VoIP requirements that you should consider:
How Much Bandwidth Is Needed?
VoIP (Voice over IP) requires a certain amount of bandwidth for keeping your conversations both, clear and free from disruptions. Bandwidth can be defined as the amount of information that your internet connection can receive and send in a particular period of time. The first step that you should takes using an online speed test in order to find out your maximum download and upload stream. To get accurate results, do this testing with a fixed internet connection rather than using your WiFi connection.
Keep in mind that you should have a speedy (broadband) connection in order to use VoIP. A usual DSL connection is rated 5000 kbps for the download stream and 600 kbps for the upload stream. Upload stream is always smaller than the download stream and this is considered as your limiting factor when using VoIP service.
The next step is determining the number of people in your office who will be using the phone at a time. For instance, if ten people are using the phone at the same time, you will need ten times more bandwidth than if a single person is on the phone.
Choosing a Router
A device that helps in connecting your computers as well as network equipment to your internet connection is called “Router”. This device plays an important role in the success or failure of your (VoIP) voice-over-IP implementation. The worst thing you can do is to put an under powered or low quality router in your office that can cause an effective VoIP installation to work badly. If your router is powerful, it can easily handle numerous phones that you have in your office and will surely work flawlessly with VoIP equipment. Also, it is important to ensure that that your router is fully compatible with VoIP services.
Below is a list items that will help you in deciding if your router is suitable for voice-over-IP:
- The number of voice-over-IP phones you want to connect to the router. A powerful router is required for more number of phones. Avoid using use a cheap router for running an office with 20 IP Telephones.
- Do VoIP phones in your officehave their own dedicated connection to internet? If not, then a router with a QoS (quality of service) setting for prioritizing voice traffic over regular one is a must, otherwise you will encounter low quality telephone calls.
- What other functions your router needs to perform? You can use your router for handling VPN connections, allowing wireless (Wifi) connections or performing other tasks.
Bridging your router to the modem is also important as routers, which are not bridged cause problems with VoIP installations.
Quality Of Service (QoS)
Good network design is very important for a reliable and stable VoIP implementation. QoS refers to the ability of a router to prioritize the voice traffic differently compared to regular online traffic on your network. In other words, it is the separation of the voice traffic. There are three ways of handling voice traffic. However, the best way of delivering reliable VoIP service is by using a dedicated internet connection, which is used solely by the VoIP equipment instead of sharing the internet with other computers. Following are various methods of doing QoS:
1.No QoS In this case, regular internet traffic and voice traffic in your office share the same internet connection. Voice traffic has no priority over regular traffic and hence, there is high potential that the quality of voice could be degraded in case of insufficient bandwidth for voice as well as regular traffic.
2.Router enabled QoS – Here, regular internet traffic and voice traffic share the same internet connection. However, your router can differentiate between regular traffic and voice traffic, giving the voice traffic a higher priority.
3.Separated Traffic In this method, regular internet traffic and voice trafficare separated onto two individual networks and internet connections. This method is especially useful for big offices with high number of employees. In this case, your router does not need prioritization as voice traffic has its own internet connection.
The method you choose largely depends on bandwidth you have, for what you use your internet connection besides VoIP and call quality you desire.
Choosing VoIP Phones and Equipment
Now, before deploying VoIP in your office, decide how each of your employee will be connected to your VoIP provider. Several choices are available in the market:
- Digital IP Telephones – they connect to your internet connection directly, using a network cable.
- Wifi Phones – It connects to your wireless router in the office.
- Soft Phones – It is a software program that runs on your computer, giving the feel of a real telephone. Here, you have to buy a USB headset that connects to your laptop or desktop so you can receive and make calls.
- Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA) – It is a small box that connects to your router, allowing you to plug in usual analog telephones, so that they can work with VoIP.
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