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What you need to know about changing to a VoIP service in Woodland
In the consumer world, people have long been giving up their landline phones in favor of cell phones and VoIP. The same transition is now happening in the business world. With that in mind, here is what you need to know about changing to a VoIP service in Woodland.
You need plenty of network bandwidth
As a rough rule of thumb, for audio calls, you need 100 kilobits per second (per line) and you should be aiming to use a maximum of 80% of your available network bandwidth, so you have a bit of room to maneuver. If you’re looking at video calls, then the requirements go up significantly. How much they go up depends on what exactly you want to do.
If your idea of video-calling is just using basic webcams so people have a bit of interpersonal contact on company calls, then you might be able to get away with 300 kps although even then 500 kps would be better. If you want full HD video then you’re looking at a minimum of 1.2 Megabits per second. Please note that these are minimums and you’ll still want to try to stay within a maximum of 80% of your available network bandwidth.
For many SMBs, the most pragmatic approach is to make sure that you can support video calls, but keep them to a minimum and aim to schedule them at times when your network is quiet.
It’s advisable to have a backup internet connection
Given that most companies are already making significant use of the cloud, this has probably been organized already, but it may need to be upgraded. If not, then now would be the time to do so. Ideally, you want not just a connection from a different provider but also a different type of connection. Cable+Fiber Optic would be the best option, but if you’re only using audio then using Copper might also be feasible. If you’re using DSL remember that you need to look at the upstream speeds, which are usually different from the downstream speeds.
The need for low latency favors wired connections
As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming for a maximum latency of 20 milliseconds. In the real world, even businesses could go as high as 150ms round-trip latency (so say 70ms one-direction latency) and still have a tolerable call quality, at least in theory. In practice, if this will depend on your customer base.
For example, if you know that most of your customers call from quiet offices, then this would probably be acceptable. If, however, you know your customers are likely to have call-quality issues at their end, then your staff could really find themselves struggling.
Latency tends to be much less of an issue with wired connections than with wireless ones. In fact, wireless connections tend to be more reliable in general. This means that when you have a choice, they should usually be your preferred option. If you do have to use WiFi, then you might want to consider upping your bandwidth and using the best hardware you can afford.
Effective data prioritization can help to make the most of bandwidth
Effective data prioritization is partly technical and partly about setting and enforcing effective user policies regarding internet use. Many companies are, in principle, happy to allow staff some leeway to use the internet for personal activities as long as it does not interfere with work. This can be helpful for staff retention, but it can lead to issues with managing bandwidth and it’s up to each company to decide how they want to handle these.
In short, you usually have three main options. The first is just to pay for the extra bandwidth to cope with the extra use. The second is to restrict access to internet sites which trigger high bandwidth usage (for example YouTube). The third is to set up an official “leisure” network, separate to your main network, and tell staff that only this network is to be used for personal business.
Robust security is non-negotiable
What makes VoIP different from the regular telephone networks (landline and cellular) is that it converts soundwaves into data packets instead of into electrical energy. These data packets are vulnerable to all the usual cybersecurity threats (and will be vulnerable to all the cybersecurity threats which will emerge in the future). This means that they need to be protected in the same way as you protect your usual network traffic.
You also need to protect your user access to prevent malicious actors from running up call charges and/or using your VoIP service for illegal activities.
If you’d like to speak to a reputable and experienced VoIP service partner in Woodland, please click here now to contact Salient IT.