Tag Archives: home business

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!

Find the Best Vanity Phone Number for Your Business

by Sue Walsh

With so many companies building an online presence, it’s easy to forget that we still rely on the humble telephone to do business and create success.

Small companies use their phone lines to answer customer questions, take orders and deal with vendors, which is why a memorable vanity number is such a valuable asset.

What is a Vanity Number?

A vanity number is a local or toll-free phone number made up of a string of numbers or letters that are either easy to remember or represent your business well. For example, 858-555-5000 or 1-800-FLOWERS.

Software Advice, a Texas-based service that helps businesses select the right software for their needs, recently published a great decision tree (shown below) that will help you choose the best vanity number for your business.

At first glance, the chart looks a bit intimidating, but the process is simple: Find the best word or phrase to represent your business > see if it’s available > take it!

Vanity Number Decision Tree. Source: Software Advice.

Phone.com Vanity Numbers

Phone.com offers a free vanity toll-free number with all plans. When choosing yours, we encourage you to work through Software Advice’s flowchart to find the very best number for you — it should only take a few minutes.

Also remember that your vanity number should be easy to recall, look professional and lend credibility to your business. 1-800-FLOWERS, for example might be better than 1-437-FLOWERZ.

Building and maintaining name recognition with a vanity toll-free number is one of the easiest ways to win business!

Extending Great VoIP Service Through Our Channel Partners

by Adele Fredeluces

iStock_000009457868SmallAt Phone.com, we love our Channel Partner Program (CPP). It allows businesses that would benefit from bundling Phone.com with their own services to offer their clients superior VoIP phone service!

While Phone.com provides software tools, training and support for CPP Agents, the agents work one-on-one with their own clients to provide great customer support.

Matthew Demaree, CEO of HTDNET, a Virginia-based computer consulting and web-hosting company, signed on with the CPP Agent program in 2011 after using our phone service for a couple of years.

“We became authorized Phone.com agents, allowing us to take our knowledge and experience of Phone.com’s products and services directly to our customers—getting them the direct support they need and still getting awesome backup support from Phone.com when we have a special issue or request.”

Demaree is a big Phone.com fan. “We have NEVER had a customer-service failure. Phone.com always goes above and beyond to ensure everything is done right.” And even though Phone.com’s customer support is HTDNET’s favorite feature, he says that our easy-to-use control panel and our menu system are pretty close to the top of their list too.

HTDNET has also seen significant savings in pricing for their clients. “After their 30-day free trial, our latest new account will save $70 per month or $840 a year switching to Phone.com from their previous VoIP provider,” says Demaree.

Demaree says his agents agree that Phone.com is the Ritz-Carlton of VoIP services. “Top that with real human interactions, US-based call centers, and the drive to do more for customers every time. Awesome sauce!”

As for us at Phone.com, building and maintaining good relationships with our CPP Agents is a key part of our customer support!

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – How to Send a Fax

by Derrick Lewis

Every Phone.com account includes the ability to send a digital fax. Say goodbye to your fax machine!

How to Send a Fax

You can send a fax through any extension on your account. To begin this process:

  1. Mouse over Configure at the top of your account page and select Manage Users & Extensions.
  2. Select Edit next to the extension from which you want to send a fax.
  3. Select Send a Fax on the left-side navigation bar within the extension settings.

phone1

You are now on the Send a Fax page. To create your fax:

  1. In the Fax Number field (1) enter the fax number to which you want to send a document.
  2. Enter cover page information (optional).
  3. In the Send a confirmation email to field (2) enter your email address to receive a successful delivery confirmation.
  4. Select Choose File (3) to upload the document you want to send.
  5. Select Preview Fax (4) to provide a preview of how your fax will look to your recipient.
  6. Select Send Fax to fax your document.

phone2

Once your document has been sent successfully, you will get a delivery confirmation email. This is the only record you will have of your fax being sent successfully. Save this email if you need it for your records.

That’s all it takes to send a fax! See you next Monday for some more Phone.com knowledge.

Small Business, Global Presence. Yes, You Can!

by Adele Fredeluces

globalnumbersPhone.com makes it easy and affordable to support a business in several countries!

Need virtual numbers in different regions and the ability to call internationally? For Ofelos Media, a Phone.com client based in Cyprus, our phone service delivers all that and more!

Ofelos Media offers business and marketing services that help small companies expand and establish an online presence. Services include scanning and electronic archiving of documents, strategies for mobile and online marketing, and guidance on social media. Phone.com gives Ofelos Media the telephony resources to maintain their relationships with global clients, and enables them to operate economically.

While their main office is located in Cyprus, Ofelos Media has another office almost 2,000 miles away in Denmark, with each location using numbers local to those countries. “The features we love most about the [Phone.com] system is its ability to handle global numbers, which gives us a local presence in each country,” says Ofelos Media CEO Marianna Frangos.

At each office, Ofelos Customer Service Specialists also use Communicator, Phone.com’s soft-phone service, along with our iPhone app, so they don’t have to buy and maintain phone equipment. Frangos says that’s good business sense. “Communication is both effective and efficient … we have no upfront investment and no hardware to maintain, so we save time and money!”

As she does for Ofelos Media, Phone.com’s number specialist Jenny Dempsey can help you find the perfect local and global phone numbers for your business.  Marianna Frangos again: “Phone.com’s customer service is excellent! Jenny is always keen to help us with any problems that arise, and help walk us through Phone.com’s many features.”