Most companies rely heavily on their phone-based communication systems to conduct business, and many have taken the leap over to Voice over IP (VoIP), abandoning seemingly antiquated alternatives, like hardwired POTS lines, for good.
While making the transition to VoIP doesn’t seem challenging on the surface, largely because most businesses already have the basic network infrastructure to make it possible, there are certain points in every network that need to be examined and, subsequently, optimized to ensure success.
With that in mind, here are some tips for optimizing your network for VoIP.
Bandwidth and Capacity
One thing many companies are surprised to learn is that not all VoIP systems require the same amount of bandwidth. Often, your requirements will be predominately based on the number of VoIP clients, or phones, that you intend to have as well as the number of concurrent calls you expect to happen during peak times.
You may also want to examine how your bandwidth is being used today, particularly which applications are creating the most traffic, as that can also impact the performance of your VoIP system. Additionally, you need to have a high-speed connection, such as a T1 line or cable.
You can examine the associated minimum download and upload speed requirements that are set by each VoIP provider for additional guidance.
Update Network Infrastructure
In some cases, certain outdated pieces of equipment will need to be replaced for a successful VoIP deployment. Items like older switches, which may be unreliable, and having a network that is not considered gigabit-ready can signal that improvements are necessary before you can go forward. Otherwise, you may experience significant latency, affecting the quality of your calls.
You also need to make a suitable investment in PoE-enabled switches. PoE (Power over Ethernet) allows VoIP phones to receive the power they need through the network cable, eliminating the need for an additional power cord. The approach is incredibly convenient and can make work areas appear more streamlined, so it can easily be worth the investment.
However, there are two options for PoE: traditional PoE and PoE+. While both function similarly, PoE+ can provide up to 30 watts per port, much higher than the 15.4 many standard PoE switches offer. By investing in PoE+, you may be able to connect more devices or choose devices that a lesser capable switch couldn’t support, giving you more options when you decide to deploy.
Establish QoS Standards
Running your network like the wild west, where any application or function can access any portion of your bandwidth, can lead to trouble when you deploy VoIP. To remedy this issue, consider segmenting your network by creating a virtual local area network (VLAN). This allows you to prioritize certain types of traffic, creating a system where VoIP traffic is considered more important than that from other specified applications. Ultimately, you’ll be able to maintain QoS so that you don’t experience issues like latency, poor call quality, or dropped calls.
By following the tips above, you can optimize your network for VoIP, ensuring you get the best call quality possible and the most options when you make the transition.