How Much Bandwidth Do I Need for VOIP?

by Joel Maloff

iStock_000005944404SmallAs businesses and home users set aside traditional analog phone services, replacing them with Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), one of the challenges becomes allocating the right amount of bandwidth to your Internet phone service.

How much of your current bandwidth is needed for high-quality voice calls? This is a question we are asked every day by our customers.

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is the actual data upload and download speed that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) delivers?
  • What other services and applications on your network consume a portion of that available bandwidth?
  • Are there Quality of Service (QoS) settings that you can tweak to optimize your network for VoIP?

Minimum and Recommended Bandwidth for VOIP Service

The bandwidth that our VOIP phone service requires depends on the number of concurrent calls you want to make. The table below shows the minimum bandwidth required to make calls from a Phone.com account, as well as recommended speeds for optimal performance.

Number of Concurrent Calls Minimum Required Bandwidth Recommended speed
1 100 Kbps Up and Down 3 MBps Up and Down
3 300 Kbps Up and Down 3 MBps Up and Down
5 500 Kbps Up and Down 5 MBps Up and Down
10 1 MBps Up and Down 5-10 MBps Up and Down

How Does VOIP Use My Bandwidth?

The answer is simple and complex. VoIP services use a variety of codecs to compress and decompress voice data, allowing it to travel over the Internet efficiently. Phone.com uses codecs that require approximately 100 kilobits per second (kbps) traveling up from your phone line and down to your phone line per second for each call. So if you have three people, all on calls at the same time, the minimum requirement is 300 kbps up and 300 kbps down.

In addition, since the Internet “pipe” into your home or business is being used for other functions too—web browsing, sending and receiving email, file transfers, web-based office services, point-of-sale systems, and so on—there are numerous candidates contending for bandwidth.

How to Determine Your Functional Bandwidth

It helps to know how much bandwidth you really have. However, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will probably only confirm what you signed up for, also known as the advertised “up to” value, as in “up to 50 Mbps” or “up to 150 Mbps.”

The best way to determine your bandwidth, is to run a throughput test using a site like www.speedtest.net. This will give you a snapshot of your current functional bandwidth, but it is important to note that this metric can vary depending on how much bandwidth all of the different applications you are using require at any given point in time. This test also provides variable results depending on the location used for testing.

Keep in mind that your upload speed is usually slower than your download speed, so you need to make sure that the lower number of the upload speed matches what you need. Since most service providers do not guarantee sustained bandwidth besides the up-to value, we recommend adding a 5x to 10x safety margin when estimating bandwidth.

Calculating the Bandwidth You Need

If you know that your ISP can sustain a certain speed, simply multiply the number of expected concurrent calls by 100 kbps. If you deal with an “up to” ISP, a good solution would be to add the safety margin mentioned above so that you can sustain the required bandwidth, even when your Internet service falters.

For example, 10 concurrent users would require 1 Mbps (10 X 100 kbps x safety margin), which means you would be smart to allow for 5 to 10 Mbps both up and down. Depending on the other services and applications using your Internet connection and on the capabilities of your router, 3 to 5 Mbps may be sufficient, or you may need to increase your bandwidth. This must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as each organization is different.

Optimizing Your Quality of Service

High-quality voice calls are the norm today but consistent quality does require some effort. One way to evaluate your VoIP capacity is using the Phone.com VOIP test (works best on Safari and Firefox). This tool lets you evaluate your network performance by simulating one, three, five or ten concurrent calls from your office to the Phone.com system.

Also, some but not all routers have the ability to prioritize voice services so that the impact of other applications doesn’t degrade voice quality. To prevent audio issues caused by voice and data competing for the same bandwidth, make sure your network router’s Quality of Service (QoS) settings are set as follows, so that they prioritize the transmission of voice packets to your WAN connection (ISP).

  • UDP/5060 – Priority: High
  • UDP/6060 – Priority: High
  • UDP/16384 to 32768 – Priority: High

Finally, if your router has an Application Layer Gateway (ALG) function, that should be disabled. We also recommend disabling the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) function—in some cases, the router cannot handle the high rate of inbound voice packets when the SPI feature is enabled. In all cases, though, check with your security expert before changing configuration settings.

We hope these guidelines help you determine how much bandwidth you need to support high-quality VOIP phone service. If you have specific questions, please leave them in the comments below or contact us directly!

The Robots are Coming! Video Conferencing in the Twenty-first Century

by Sue Walsh

 

I_Robot_-_RunaroundAs we move towards the year 2020, I’m wondering: Where are those time-saving robots that sci-fi writers and cartoonists promised us in the 1950s? Robots are running our production lines and powering our data centers, yet I’m still mowing the lawn and folding laundry!

Isaac Asimov dreamed of a world where bots not only did the menial tasks we disdain, but were capable of discernment and independent action, being governed by the Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Earlier this year, iRobot and Cisco teamed to release the kind of robot Asimov may have seen in his mind’s eye. The Ava 500 Video Collaboration Robot is an roving bot that can take your place at meeting. Your physical place that is—you’ll still need to attend by video conference, displayed on Ava’s screen.

The Ava 500 is a highly evolved VOIP-based video-conferencing unit, one that can move to a specified meeting point and give you a physical presence at the boardroom table, even when you’re 500 or a thousand miles away. You control Ava 500 via an app on your iPad or iPhone. Take a look!

Note how Ava uses visual sensors to move around, avoiding bumping into walls, furniture and, yes, human beings! Ava 500, in fact, does an outstanding job of adhering to Asimov’s Three Laws—not injuring others, following orders, and protecting its own … being?

What we love about the Ava 500 is how close it comes to fulfilling the kind of intelligent function that Asimov and others imagined. That and the fact that it means we don’t have to drive or fly to attend far-away meetings. Fewer on-site meetings? Less travel? I’ll take that over wanting a robot to fold my laundry any day!

addressbook

Keep Your Business Organized with Phone.com’s Address Book Feature

by Derrick Lewis

Are you still writing your business contacts on random pieces of paper, or maybe you are tired of having your business and personal contacts mixed together? If so, Phone.com has a great address book feature included with every account that makes managing your business contacts easy and efficient. 

There are several benefits to using our address books, including:

  • Importing contacts is simple. Want to transfer your contacts from AOL, Gmail, Plaxo, Windows Live, or Yahoo? We’ve got you covered with an automated importing tool to handle the job.
  • Extension specific contacts. Got a staff of employees that all have their own contacts? Each extension on your account gets its own dedicated address book.
  • Call forwarding based on a specific contact. Your can route calls from your premium customers uniquely based on specific address book contacts.

Don’t miss out on learning about this great feature! Join us for a free 30 minute webinar where we’ll teach you everything you need to know to become an expert with your address books.

Specifically, we’ll be covering how to import your existing business contacts, forward your number based on specific address book entries, and how to create address book groups for easy contact management. 

When

Thursday, October 9th 10:30am – 11:00am PST.

How

Register Now

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – How to Stop Spam Callers from Wasting Your Minutes

by Derrick Lewis

Tired of all those spam callers wasting your Phone.com minutes? We have several strategies to  help save your valuable minutes including:

  • Blocking callers by a specific caller ID number or area code.
  • Blocking all anonymous calls that have an unknown or blocked caller ID.

Let’s walk through how to configure both of these options on your account.

Blocking by Caller ID or Area Code

  1. Mouse over Call Info and select Manage Spam Callers List.
  2. Select Add A Number To Block.
  3. Enter the full number with area code in the Block incoming calls from section.
  4. Select Add to add your number or area code to your block list.

If you only want to block an area code, be sure to check the Starts With checkbox after entering the area code to block.

spam1

Blocking Anonymous Calls

Please Note: You will need to set this setting on each separate Phone.com number on your account. 

  1. Mouse over Configure and select Manage Numbers.
  2. Select Edit for your chosen Phone.com number.
  3. Select the Block Anonymous Calls checkbox.
  4. Select Save Changes.

spam2

That’s everything you need to know about stopping spam callers from wasting your minutes. See you next Monday for some more Phone.com knowledge!

Streamline Communications with Our Killer Mobile App!

by Sue Walsh


defense_researchDefense consultant Edward Tj Gerety III communicates daily with clients and partners in the international community. A Co-Founder of Defensive Research, Gerety was looking for a business phone solution that would allow him to communicate efficiently wherever he found himself.

“Phone.com’s mobile app lets me communicate flawlessly with clients on all of my devices,” says Gerety. “Not only can I use a single identifying number across those devices, but if I’m busy with a client I can instantly redirect other VIP clients calling to another partner with just a tap of an icon on the app.”

Phone.com’s free Mobile Office app let’s you:

  • Place and receive calls from your Phone.com number
  • Hear, view and manage voicemail messages and faxes
  • View call logs for your account
  • Send and receive SMS messages
  • Host conference calls from your mobile devices

Gerety notes that these and other Phone.com features come at a huge cost benefit. “I’m saving, on average, $45 a month compared to my previous VOIP service,” he says, “and they offered only a tenth of the options, along with a fraction of Phone.com’s excellent customer service.”

Flexible mobile management, great features, cost savings and exceptional customer support—what’s not to love about Phone.com? We love making business easier for our clients!