Voice over IP (VoIP) has quickly become the industry standard when rolling out telecommunications solutions to businesses. With zero capital expense and significant monthly cost savings compared to the installation of legacy analog PBX, it’s an effortless choice for most companies.
But is your network ready for VoIP? Here’s a quick list of items to check.
- Internet Access.
The first step is to make sure you already have high-speed internet access. While VoIP phones do not use large amounts of bandwidth, they need to be installed on networks with access to a modem with a high-speed connection. The connection type can vary from DSL to cable internet, fiber internet, or even 4G/LTE/5G cellular connectivity. One or many static IPs are always recommended.
- Testing Your Internet Connection.
Start by doing a simple internet speed test here http://speedcheck.ipfone.com/
When evaluating your internet connection for VoIP, many people place too heavy a value on the Download and Upload speeds. VoIP does not use a lot of bandwidth. VoIP can operate with as little as 5 Mbps download, and 1 Mbps upload speed.
A ping test is a basic internet test that sends a packet of data to a remote destination and measures the time it takes to return. The ping and jitter values can give clues about your internet circuit’s stability and reliability (quality of service). An ideal value is under 20ms. VoIP becomes unstable at times over 150ms.
Jitter is the variation in the times it takes a packet to travel between two systems. Jitter measured at over 30ms may lead to issues with VoIP communications.
- Check Your Network.
You’ve verified your internet connection, but now it’s time to look at how it all comes together. What you see below is a diagram for a typical small business network.
- Check Your Cabling and Ports.
Not all cables are created equal. VoIP phones do not use the type of cabling that you’d find in a typical phone system. Instead, they use the same cabling as your data network. Ensure all jacks were wired with CAT5/CAT6/CAT6e. Each new desktop SIP phone will need an RJ45 port to work. Most VoIP desk phones come with two ports that allow you to use a single port to provide connectivity to both the phone and computer. Your connection goes from the network jack to the phone, then from the phone to the computer.
- Check Your Network Hardware.
You’ll need a good router and switches to ensure your new VoIP service works well. Hubs won’t work with VoIP services. Most common routers, switches, or PoE switches are suitable for VoIP, including Cisco, Meraki, Fortinet, etc. Switches come in two speeds, either 100Mbps or the higher 1Gbps. Either of these has enough bandwidth to support VoIP traffic. If you have an older switch limited to 10 Mbps, we recommend upgrading to more modern equipment. A UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) is highly recommended to protect the investment you’ve made in your network devices.
For more information, please get in touch with us.