VoIP QoS: How Does It Improve Call Quality?

After the surge in remote work from 2020, many of us have become pretty acquainted with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) hardware and software. But how familiar are you with VoIP Quality of Service or VoIP QoS?  

While working remotely, we have probably experienced an occasional frozen screen on video conferences or a glitch in-office collaboration platforms (like when too many people are trying to edit a document at once). Along with business calls, home network streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and regular data traffic demands can all congest a network. This has made prioritizing VoIP traffic more critical than ever. VoIP QoS affects VoIP processing quality every day. It may be a significant influence on why your laptop's audio quality is not what you need in your remote meetings.

VoIP QoS is important because it can be the deciding factor between a good impression and a bad one when interacting with a prospective customer or employee candidate. People want to understand and buy into what they are familiar with. If they cannot see your sales pitch and presentation, they will be unable to visualize working with you and your products or services.

If your team operates remotely or in the office, it is important to understand VoIP QoS and how it can improve your operations (like the speed and quality of your digital collaborations). Below, we will walk you through all the details of VoIP QoS and help you understand the difference between good and lousy VoIP quality and how QoS can improve your call quality.

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What is VoIP QoS?

Quality of Service (QoS) is a technique used to sequence network traffic through the router that provides service to an end-user. The end-users are usually your co-workers or employees in a company or office setting. VoIP QoS monitors your business while improving overall productivity and providing enhanced communication quality with your clients. Administrators utilize the quality of service to tackle audio quality issues.

VoIP is vulnerable to network congestion, resulting in echoes, lag, and dropped calls. VoIP depends on data packets arriving at their destination and in the proper order. High latency and jitter can result in intrusive issues with VoIP phone calls.

Why is QoS Important?

A phone call with poor audio quality sounds awful. No matter the context of the conversation, if it's difficult to hear, you honestly want the call to end or drop. Companies have all kinds of conversations such as:

  • Product demos or sales webinars
  • Customer service and support
  • Candidate interviews
  • Team meetings with administrators

All of these types of conversations are crucial to the success of your business. When your VoIP service is unreliable, it can leave gaps or breaches of trust for your brand, as well as communication issues. 

While everyone will experience a technology issue from time to time, knowing how to address and resolve them is the best place to start. This begins with learning how to limit overall network congestion. Putting QoS in place will improve your company's overall call quality for every user on your Local Area Network or LAN. 

Lastly, not all VoIP service providers are created equal. Overall, it is cheap for a business to set up a VoIP system, but that doesn't mean it's dependable. This has resulted in various VoIP providers offering different levels of dependability and call quality.

How Does QoS Work?

QoS settings allow the router to avert unnecessary noises and enhance the quality of the VoIP connections. QoS prioritizes voice and voice traffic, enabling the router to prevent other services from having a similar priority level, certifying proper data flow maintenance, and an elite voice connection.

Generally, the QoS is a service that prioritizes vital data packets to reach the proper destination and obstructs the least important ones. The prioritized packets will reach the destination as soon as possible. If the router is QoS-enabled, then there is no way it will know which packets are more important than another. Typically, routers handle data packets using a First In First Out (FIFO) order. This often creates queuing problems throughout a network when bandwidth use is high. QoS resolves this by utilizing specific network resources based on the particular type of traffic and or device.

When a router can determine the total amount of data it can receive, it can control the data traffic by creating queues, sending the higher priority packets first, and delaying the low-priority packets.

What QoS Can and Cannot Do

Most users may be able to diagnose VoIP QoS problems, and it can be somewhat difficult to fix them. QoS is still just one moving part of a large set of systems that build your company's phone system even with best routing practices. Before reaching the end destination, voice packets have to pass through many different networks and routers. Each stop along the way can affect the QoS of the calls.

Sometimes, intermediary network equipment can wither away at the headers to prioritize packets. If your network is somewhat complex and has multiple switches and routers, you should consult with a network administrator or engineer.

QoS should never impact the performance of the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Typically, ISPs oversee downloads and upload speed, affecting phone quality during times of high network traffic. QoS on VoIP calls can actually pinpoint the source of the issue which may indeed be your ISP.

Depending on how your VoIP system operates, there are some steps you can follow to further enhance QoS for VoIP—for instance, prioritizing SIP traffic.

Best Practices for Ensuring Flawless Call Quality

When prioritizing call quality for most companies, the first step is to select the best and most reliable VoIP service provider. A trustworthy VoIP provider should be able to offer insight into their VoIP network and offer tips and tricks to attain optimal call quality (like these down below):

  • Make use of wired Ethernet connections. Wi-Fi is often vulnerable to interference, which can hinder phone calls often at the worst possible time. Category 6 certified Ethernet cable enables low latency with gigabit duplexing. Plus, you remove the risk of a lousy termination.
  • Regularly test your LAN and WAN connections. Track your business's critical metrics like ping, jitter, and bandwidth to determine any network congestion. VoIP uses about 100 Kbps upload/download per line.
  • Account for 85% of your connection speed. Many businesses will quickly reach the bandwidth limit often allowed by a DSL connection and DSL is not recommended for VoIP calling. Fiber connections and cable offer a lot more headway. TCP and UDP connections have overhead that can fully use your bandwidth.

QoS is often overlooked by businesses when it comes to VoIP. Many companies look to deploy VoIP on a data network that has already been running adequately for a while yet find it incapable of supporting VoIP as-is. 

There is nothing worse than a business having poor call quality. It is incredibly frustrating and disappointing and can lead to office-wide collaboration problems. It is essential to invest in, and partner with a trustworthy VoIP service provider determined to offer the best service and highest QoS standards, including personalized support and the best voice quality. When shopping for a VoIP provider, be sure to discuss QoS and have all questions and concerns addressed. Ask the VoIP provider how they monitor, troubleshoot, and resolve QoS issues and in what kind of time frame. QoS will offer a significant increase in call quality and automatically improve overall parameters. 

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