mattl
Matt Larson
October 3, 2014
Employee experience
Telephony

Troubleshooting 5 Common VoIP Problems [Friday Five]

troubleshooting voipKnowing how to spot and troubleshoot common VoIP problems can save you a lot of tech support headaches. So, before you reach for the phone to call technical support, try these out. The VoIP problem solutions here might just save a ton of your time and funds.

1) Choppy Voice

The common cause of choppy voice in VoIP is insufficient bandwidth. This does not necessarily point to your internet service provider as the culprit; nor does it mean there’s too much traffic in your network. It could be that you have another bandwidth-eating application running. You might also be using the wrong compression code.

Remember that a two-way conversation eats up around 90 kbps for both upload and download. Test to confirm that your bandwidth usage is causing choppy voice in your VoIP service.

  1. Turn off all other computers connecting to your network.
  2. Test your bandwidth speed. There are several websites that offer this service free.
  3. Check your running applications for bandwidth usage.
  4. Test for malware and spyware. There are several free anti-malware software available online.
  5. Configure your router’s QoS to prioritize voice applications.

2) Echo

There are different common causes of VoIP echo: acoustic, electromagnetic interference, and faulty equipment. Acoustic echo resides in the earpiece/speakers and mouthpiece of your phone; the earpiece volume is too loud and overpowers the mouthpiece. Electromagnetic echo occurs when your VoIP hardware is too close together. Bad equipment, on the other hand, creates “bounce back” from impedance variations.

To resolve VoIP echo issues, try these easy steps:

  1. Cover your phone’s mouthpiece. If the echo lessens, it means that you just need to turn down the volume of your earpiece/speakers.
  2. Move your router away from your computer’s monitor, CPU and power strip.
  3. Disconnect splitters and caller ID devices connected to your router and your phone.
  4. Inspect your system’s wiring. Make sure your cables are dry and not too long.
  5. Replace old equipment.
  6. Use a corded phone, instead of a cordless one.

3) Jitter and Jitter Buffer

Jitter refers to the variation in the arrival time of voice packets. To ensure that conversations are understandable, the jitter buffer collects the packets first and then sends them to the receiver at an even pace. Sometimes though, the jitter buffer can be wrongly configured, which can result in dropped packets and low quality voice calls.

A hack that you can try here involves the dynamic jitter buffer, which is software-based and can be reconfigured. (The static jitter buffer is hardware-based.) Have your network administrator do the reconfiguration based on what you’re experiencing. Ideally, this should be set between 30 to 50 millisecond in depth.

Remember that packets are dropped when the buffer is too small. You will experience conversation gaps if this is the case. On the flip side, if the buffer is too big, you will experience increased delays in voice packet delivery.

4) Bandwidth-Related Problems

VoIP problems that are rooted to insufficient bandwidth allotment can be addressed by reconfiguring your router’s QoS. All modern routers allow access to the QoS, where an administrator can assign priorities to different types of applications.

  1. Decrease impeding equipment between your computer/SIP phone, and network connections. For instance, you should connect directly to your router/switch, instead of accessing the net via Wi-Fi.
  2. Check your equipment and wiring. Damaged ones can cause delays, which you may wrongly attribute as bandwidth-related.
  3. Do a power cycle to see if renewed connections can speed things up for you.
  4. Turn off all other applications, especially those that use up a lot of bandwidth, such as gaming apps.
  5. Set your QoS to allot top priority to Voice Applications. Deprioritize gaming and other similar apps.

5) Monitor Your Network and VoIP

To ensure that you’re on top of your VoIP’s performance, subscribe to a 24/7/365 VoIP monitoring service provider, such as VoIP Spear. These business services do round-the-clock testing of key VoIP performance parameters and send alerts when you need to take action. This way, you can do these simple troubleshooting steps yourself or, in worse cases, call your tech support.