Our Guest Blog today comes from Matt Larson, a tech blogger, based in TN, USA. He is currently promoting VoIP Spear and its VoIP testing and monitoring services
VoIP is probably the best thing to happen to telecommunications in this decade. It has made communications cheaper and more accessible. Now, you don't need to pay an arm and a leg just to talk to a loved-one in another state – or another continent, even. You just need to have a free or paid account with a good VoIP service provider.
But then again, no matter how great your VoIP service provider is, your VoIP quality is still dependent on your network, or how you connect to the internet. This is a major issue among several VoIP users. The dependence on network connections places this question: is it my VoIP or is it my internet? And, more importantly, is it practical to switch to VoIP? Is my network made for it?
VoIP as an Investment
When you have an account with a good service provider, VoIP can ideally replace wireline telephony, and even mobile phone services. You can convert your home to use VoIP by switching to SIP phones, or using ATAs (analog telephone adapter) on your analog phones. On mobile devices and desktops, you can use softphones; many good ones are available free or for a minimal fee.
Transitioning to VoIP is an investment in equipment, as well as in your VoIP service. You need to have a reliable network for this. The only way that you'd know is if you consistently monitor your VoIP quality, which tests the suitability of your network connections for VoIP communications.
How to Test VoIP Quality
There are several ways of testing your VoIP quality. The most basic here is the ping test, which you can do from the command prompt of your computer. Through the simple assessment of how much time it takes to get replies for packets sent out, you can tell if you can have a decent VoIP conversation or not. However, this is just scratching the surface. There are several factors to consider when it comes to your call quality.
A good way to test is through services like VoIP Spear, which is a VoIP Analyzer service. Here, you are not merely checking how much time it takes to get replies for packets sent out. VoIP Analyzers also check for packet loss, latency and jitter. These services diagnose RTP streams and decode VoIP protocols. You can test several endpoints, at regular time intervals – depending on your account. (Free accounts can usually assess only one endpoint at 15-minute intervals.)
In any case, this gives you a clearer picture of your network's overall performance, as well as peaks and dips in its service. You get a MOS (Mean Opinion Scores) profile of your service. MOS is how the industry measures call quality.
Other options for testing VoIP quality include VoIP Probes and Voice Quality Testers; both of which are more suitable for bigger enterprises, such as service providers.
Now That You've Tested
Once you have an accurate call quality profile through testing and monitoring, you can use the data to determine your network's suitability for VoIP. At the very least, you can schedule using your VoIP usage during peak performance hours. Or, you can troubleshoot to make your network connections prioritize voice calls. If you want to fully transition to VoIP, it might be necessary to switch services or upgrade equipment.
In any case, it pays to have a VoIP monitoring service in the background to provide regular VoIP performance data. The advantage is never one time. VoIP and network connections have occasionally inconsistent services; and when this happens, you'd want to get to the heart of the problem.