Tag Archives: voip

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!

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!

AFAR: At the End of the Line for Animal Rights

by Sue Walsh



Phone.com Customer Service Pooch

Customer Service pup Wino, enjoying the green grass at Phone.com’s Poway offices.

Customer Advocates for Animal Rights (AFAR) came to Phone.com through our affiliation with Grassroots.org, a partnership that gives non-profits one year of free phone service.

Based in Michigan, AFAR’s goal is to advocate on animal-rights issues, educate the public on spaying and neutering, and celebrate the special bond between animals and the people who care for them. Their phone line is used to raise funds and gather support to provide no-kill temporary housing and care for strays.

Director David Farr says Phone.com has definitely helped move AFAR’s work forward. “As we grow, Phone.com is there, meeting our needs, often even before we know we need something.”

AFAR uses a Phone.com customized toll-free number. This feature lets customers pick a number that is easy for callers to remember and dial because it uses letters associated with the organization. For example, AFAR’s donation and support line is 1-866-224-AFAR.

Sancho, our Chief Happiness Officer

Sancho, our Chief Happiness Officer

David says AFAR staff are impressed by the friendly, helpful support they receive from Phone.com Customer Service. “They always go the extra mile, providing quality service.”

What David doesn’t know, is that at Phone.com, we love our dogs! From tiny Wino the Dachshund-Beagle pup pictured above to three-year-old Pit Bull Sancho, the hounds rule our Customer Service center.

We wish AFAR every success in protecting and advocating for our furry friends!

Five Reasons Phone.com and Remote Work Go Hand In Hand

by Jeremy Watkin

work-from-anywhereIn the book Remote, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37signals, present a compelling argument for allowing employees to work from home.  At the core of the discussion is giving your employees the flexibility to work wherever they feel is best.

That could be home or a cabin in the mountains, or possibly at one coffee shop in the morning and another in the evening. Does it really matter where they work as long as they are completing their work with flying colors and effectively communicating with the team?

If you are currently considering allowing your employees to work remotely, here are five reasons Phone.com just makes sense for you and your business.

1. Flexible Call Routing – You can route calls to a device, our Communicator soft phone, or your cell phone or landline number.  You can literally route your callers anywhere you might be working and change it on the fly through our easy-to-use control panel.

2. No More Expensive Devices – While you can still get a fantastic, HD desk phone from Phone.com, you no longer have to be tethered to that phone like a ball and chain.  Phone.com Communicator can be installed on your laptop so you can speak with callers anywhere you have an Internet connection.

3. Useful Mobile Apps – Our mobile apps for iPhone and Android let you access your voicemail, view your call logs, and send and receive SMS anywhere.

4. Easy Extension Dial – Everyone on our system is simply an extension away from one another. Where Paul traditionally might pick up the phone and call Lucy in the next room at extension 522, now Paul, located in California can dial Lucy, located in Florida simply by dialing 522.

5. Enhance Your Professional Image – You’re probably thinking that your company’s image will suffer as a result of this.  Wrong!  With customizable menus and greetings, your brand will be enhanced, not sacrificed—regardless of where your employees work.

The beauty of working remotely with Phone.com is that you gain an amazing phone system at a fraction of the cost, and you gain an excited, engaged team that has the flexibility to work anywhere they darn well please!  I have merely scratched the surface of the benefits.  You’ll have to give Phone.com a try and read Remote to learn about the rest!