Anyone who has used Skype has probably heard that awful, grating vocal register, that sounds like it has taken the speaker’s voice and then stretched it out like an accordion – like artificial vocal fry. We need to ensure that NEVER happens to a business call.
If you’ve read the first 7 articles in this series, you know about VoIP providers, and how telecoms have cut out the cost of long-distance with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and what to look for in a SIP/VoIP provider. Now we are taking you into the next phase of the journey to modern business communications by giving you a deeper understanding of how to ensure call quality within the office.
Quality of Service (QoS) is so important; it measures the degradation of the call in real-time, allowing the system to automatically adjust to preserve the integrity of the call. To give you an idea of how these automated controls work, we will discuss the systems inside the office, and how they keep multimedia communications sounding and looking great.
When you switch to digital business communications, you are pitting voice and video against the rest of the data in the network. The right system will ensure communications have the priority, always. Because: When half the office gets on the Internet and wants to stream the women’s World Cup, we need to ensure that call quality does not suffer.
We ensure quality of service by virtually separating the types of service with a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN). Phones are placed on one VLAN, and computers go on a different VLAN. We tell the switches how to prioritize when network traffic rises. Essentially, we tell the switches to drop requests for data first and never drop requests for business phone streams.
Dropped packets do not cause a big problem for data applications. If packets are dropped during transmission and are not received, then the computer on the other end will simply send a message back requesting the missing packets. No big deal.
When a business wants video, we simply create a third virtual network with different prioritization. The way we prioritize video over voice in some circumstances but not others depends upon the customer, and specifically how voice and video will be used.
There is no doubt that VoIP, SIP, and other digitized business communications are the next logical step for SMBs. But like so many new technologies, business owners need to be well-informed before they take the plunge. The cheapest solution is not always the best solution, and especially those SMBs that keep a tight budget need to be aware of the pitfalls.
Although our ideal customers require professional-grade communications, we hope this series helps any SMB that is considering VoIP, and curious about how it all works.