Preparing Your Data Network for VoIP

If you’re switching to VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), you’ll need to prepare your data network for real-time voice traffic so that users experience good call quality.

VoIP_000012037241When an email or a web page travels across your network, you want the data to arrive quickly, but it isn’t a disaster if there’s a slight delay. If the data is streaming video, buffering can cover most network hiccups and prevent the end users from noticing a problem. However, phone communication is less forgiving to delays because a phone call is conducted in real-time. Since a VoIP phone call is not pre-recorded, the data network cannot rely on buffering to maintain call quality. With real-time voice traffic, even small errors or delays in a VoIP phone call can result in poor call quality.

A data network must be prepared to ensure good call quality in real time. While data traffic can work well with best-effort delivery, acceptable call quality usually requires you to prioritize voice traffic by implementing quality of service (QoS) in your network hardware. QoS ensures network performance and call quality by creating a reserved lane for your high-priority traffic.

An alternative to QoS is over-provisioning best-effort (non-QoS) network capacity to ensure that congestion will not slow traffic at the expected traffic peak. At the LAN level, bandwidth is inexpensive enough to make over-provisioning a viable alternative. At the WAN level, the high cost of bandwidth usually dictates the need for a smarter solution in the form of QoS.

If you can’t implement QoS with your current network hardware, you will need to upgrade your infrastructure, including routers and switches. You may also need to fine-tune other aspects of your network to reduce or eliminate performance issues that can affect call quality, including dropped packets, bit errors, latency, jitter, low throughput and out-of-order delivery.

Finally, if you decide to use a hosted solution or SIP trunking to extend your VoIP network beyond your firewall, your data network will need a reliable, high-speed Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth for all your data and communications. If you require higher call quality and reliability, you may even need a dedicated line for VoIP traffic as well.

VoIP implementation can be challenging, so it pays to have all the facts before you start. Our e-book helps you:

  • Learn the basics of VoIP migration and implementation
  • Understand the practical considerations for provisioning power and cooling for VoIP network/telecom wiring closets
  • Explore real-world application examples
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