Is Your Internet Fast Enough For VoIP?

OK, you’re a small business owner. You’re looking to cut costs and you’ve been told you can find a major cost savings – to the tune of hundreds of dollars per month – by simply switching from a traditional phone service to a VoIP system. But you either live in a part of the country where worst-case scenario DSL still exists or your telecom is notorious for providing users with very slow Internet speeds. What do you do?

Slow Internet speeds, not a deterrent for switching to VoIP

If you’re considering VoIP phone service but have slow Internet speeds, this should not be a deterrent to make the switch. However, it is important to your test your connection to see if and how many phone lines your SMB will be able to handle, without impacting sound quality. A Speed Test, you can quickly obtain a snapshot as to your bandwidth and latency, while also explaining what this means for your company’s VoIP capabilities.

Today, I ran a test and received a download speed of 77.41 Mbps and an upload of 12.85 Mbps.

When I asked Telzio’s chief executive officer, Peter Rank Schrøder, if these stats were fast enough for VoIP, he indicated that not only were they more than adequate speeds, they were “good enough to run a complete call center with hundreds of agents.”

Wow, that’s impressive. In fact – as I soon came to learn – even much slower speeds would work.

“The range depends on how many calls you will be making. Theoretically you only need 80kbps and over to make a call. Having higher speed doesn’t make the sound quality better, but allows headroom for other tasks, like surfing on the Internet, your phone checking email in the background, etc. Therefore, we usually recommend at least 1mbit to have a good stable VoIP call,” says Schrøder.

Ping vs Download vs Upload Speeds

A ping is the reaction time of your connection. This is how fast one can obtain a response after you’ve sent out a request. A fast ping means a more responsive connection, especially in applications where timing is everything (like video games). Pings are measured in milliseconds (ms).

The download speed is how quickly you can pull data from the server to you. Most connections are designed to download much faster than they upload [hence the difference between my download 77.41 Mbps and my upload of 12.85 Mbps] since the majority of online activity, like loading web pages or streaming videos, consists of downloads. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

The upload speed is used to send data from you to others. Uploading is necessary for sending big files via email, or in using video-chat to talk to someone else online (since you have to send your video feed to them). Upload speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Maximum Simultaneous Calls

And even I were only able to obtain a 1 mbit speed [which is equal to 1,000 kbit], theoretically a small call center could make approximately 12 VoIP calls simultaneously on a 1 mbit Internet connection.

So, with my example above that notes I can make 161 simultaneous calls, I quizzed Mr. Schroeder as to why I would need such a high number?

“It means that you can make 161 simultaneous calls – not that you necessarily need to, but you can. Internet connections today are generally fast enough to handle plenty of simultaneous calls. What’s important about this is that the user may also want to do other things while making calls, so even while you’re making calls, you also need bandwidth for other internet traffic,” noted Schrøder.

Check Your Router for QoS

Another consideration is to review what other activity you have on your network. For instance, most routers today have a feature called QoS, which stands for Quality of Service. This function allows you to prioritize your internet connection’s data, and set it so it makes sure you always have room enough for VoIP calls — and to actually slow down other activity while a call is going on.

Mobile Internet

As mobile Internet connections have become faster and more available, the ability to make VoIP calls has also increased. While the quality still depends on the connection, you may find that in major cities, you will have plenty of bandwidth to make calls.

Remember, that when you make calls from your cell phone, you will only be making one simultaneous call. This means that all you need is a stable 128 kbps connection. Most 4G LTE connections are between 5 mbit (5,000 kbit) to 50 mbit (50,000 kbps).

However, you may hear some slight delay in the audio when talking. This is related to the nature of wireless Internet and the higher ping times that come with it.

The beauty of this speed test is that it can be used on all devices including today’s go-to device, the smartphone. But important to note that your mobile data connection will depend on how many people around you are using data, as well as the signal in your area.

And, as with a wired PC Internet connection, the time of day can also affect speeds. For instance, you’ll probably receive a slower connection at lunchtime in a central business metro district, and then when you try the speed test in the same location on a Sunday morning, when no one else is around.

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Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.