As a Sales Engineer at Digium, I spend a lot of time helping customers determine if their network is suitable for VoIP & Unified Communications (UC). This is increasingly an important topic as more businesses are utilizing the benefits of UC and integrating multiple applications (such as web, video and business phone) in a single interface. The next part of that UC discussion is helping people understand what can be done to make their network ready. During these conversations, one statement has consistently proven to be true:
The voice/communications quality is only as good as the network it’s running on.
Digium wants to make sure that the solution you are deploying will work well and sound great. A key factor to that is the network infrastructure.
If you’re considering a swtich to UC, or maybe having some quality issues with your current solution, I thought it might be worthwhile to share a few tips. Here are several important things to note when deploying a UC solution:
1. Prioritize your UC packets – This can be audio,video,chat and other services provided by your UC solution. Making use of QoS and IP ToS is the best way to make sure your UC traffic is routed above other traffic, and thus ensuring quality.
2. Pay attention to jitter – Ensure your network jitter is below 50ms. Jitter is the time variation between arriving packets and jitter problems usually result in choppy audio.
3. Consider latency and packet loss – Make sure the latency on your LAN does not exceed 150ms, and ideally 100ms. Latency is also important if you are using a VoIP provider. Packet loss can also cause audio quality problems. I recommend less than 1 percent packet loss to maintain best audio quality.
Obviously, these aren’t all of the factors you should take into consideration when transitioning your network to a UC solution. Depending on your technical acumen, you may also want to work with your internal IT department or an outside vendor to evaluate some of these performance and quality factors. If you are interested in digging deeper to learn more about network readiness, you can check out our guide for Determining Network Readiness for UC. It gives a good overview of other factors to consider when switching to UC, including such things as number of employees and remote users, ports required, and even provides a review of the terms you’ll need to know when having a conversation about UC. If you have other questions or comments about network readiness, be sure to post them here.