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How to troubleshoot 5 common VoIP problems—without IT help

Ring Central Blog

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Sure, using WiFi calling and VoIP instead of a regular old phone has lots of benefits and can save you a lot of money, especially if you’re often calling folks in other countries.

But we’d be kidding you if we said that VoIP never has any problems. The good news is that most of the common issues that do pop up are relatively easy to solve on your own. And knowing 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 money).

Here are some of the most common VoIP problems—and how to fix them. Skip ahead if you’re interested in learning about any specific one of these:

  1. Choppy audio
  2. Echo
  3. Network issues
  4. Bandwidth-related problems
  5. Jitter and jitter buffer 

🕹️ Need an internet calling tool or communication platform that doesn’t give you issues? Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:

💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other, clients, freelancers, and more.


The most common VoIP problems and how to fix them


1. Choppy audio

The most common cause of choppy audio when you’re on a VoIP call is insufficient bandwidth.

Now, this doesn’t 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 app running at the same time. 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. (A quick search online will show you several websites that offer this service free!)
  3. Check your running applications for bandwidth usage.
  4. Test for malware and spyware. There are lots of free anti-malware software available online.
  5. Configure your router’s QoS to prioritize voice applications.

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2. Echo

There are a few common causes of VoIP echo: acoustic or electromagnetic interference, and faulty equipment.

You’ll usually notice acoustic echo in the earpiece/speakers and mouthpiece of your phone or headset (learn about some good headsets that minimize the possibility of this happening)—usually it’s because 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. Check if your conferencing or calling equipment is too old and if so, replace it.
  6. Use a better phone! Here are a few options.


3. Network issues

To make sure that you’re on top of your VoIP service’s performance, make sure you’re using a tool or provider that has a sterling track record. (Like RingCentral!)

A few tips for what to look for:

In fact, if you’re looking for a good business phone system, here’s a quick look at some features that will come in handy for work:


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. Jitter and jitter buffer

Jitter refers to the variation in the arrival time of voice packets. To make sure that conversations are clear and understandable, the jitter buffer collects the packets first and then sends them to the receiver at a steady, even pace.

Sometimes though, the jitter buffer can be wrongly configured, which can result in what’s called “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 milliseconds in depth.

Remember that packets are dropped when the buffer is too small. You’ll experience conversation gaps if this is the case. On the flip side, if the buffer is too big, you’ll experience increased delays in voice packet delivery. The buffer has to be just right!


🔍  Are you thinking about purchasing a new communication tool and unsure how to get started? Here’s a checklist to help you pick the right one for your business.

👀   Get this free checklist to pick the right communication tool for your business.

Enjoy!


Try these VoIP troubleshooting tips before calling in reinforcements

If you’re experiencing any of these issues while on calls, the answer might actually be simple and doable on your own!

Give these a try, and if you’re still experiencing problems, then give tech support a call.

Originally published Jan 11, 2021, updated Jul 16, 2021

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