How To Improve Your VoIP Network

Caucasian children video conferencing with mother on laptop
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1. Make sure your network can handle voice as well as data

Having separate networks for handling voice and data would be quite expensive, both at the start and while running. Besides saving money and staff, running voice and data on the same network will deliver a more uniform level of communication services. This will also pave the way for emerging business applications like unified messaging, which combines voice, data and video.

Now, your network should be suitable to handle both data and voice. For instance, your bandwidth is a crucial parameter in allowing that. Other important considerations are scalability, flexibility and reliability of the network.

Scalability - the network should be adaptable to expansions...
Flexibility - ...and to modifications
Reliability - when staff pick up the phone, they want (need) to hear a dial tone, always.

2. Get management tools ready before your start your service

There are numerous call management and monitoring tools on the market. Some are hardware-based and some software-based. Hardware-based tools are cumbersom and expensive to deploy and are getting obsolete, leaving the floor to call monitoring software-packages. Typically, a call monitoring software does these, among others: VoIP call center, call recording, monitoring call conversations, call recording backup, reporting with graphic displays of call activity, remote access etc.

Also monitor the voice quality in real-time and end-to-end. Call quality is not static over a network, as many parameters determine whether it is, at a certain point in time, good or poor. Doing real-time (active) monitoring of voice packets to check parameters like delay, jitter, echo, packet loss and noise is important in readjusting things so that communication remains smooth.

3. Give voice traffic priority by configuring QoS

In one word, QoS is the prioritization of a certain type or class of traffic. In a network made for VoIP, QoS should be configured so that voice gets priority over other types and classes of traffic.

4. Train your staff, all your staff

You could have the best network, best software and best service deployed for VoIP, but if you have an ignorant or unwelcoming staff working on it, you should not expect much. The skills and understanding of the workforce should encompass the system's data flow, defined communication processes, basic technicalities related to the hardware and software tools in the system. Even if one if not a mechanic, one should at least know how to drive to use a car.

Also, voice and data staffs should not have a fence between them. Both should be trained in such a way that they understand each other's needs. They digitally cohabit on the same network, so they should understand the needs of each other to be able to make good use of it. Failure in this is likely to result in under-utilization of resources, conflicting demands etc.

5. Make sure your network is secure before deploying VoIP

Christopher Kemmerer of Nextiraone Inc.

says, "Chances are, you are unlikely to get hacked. But once you do, you'll never forget it." As things stand now, I won't say you are unlikely to get hacked, since VoIP security threats are evolving. To put yourself on the safe side, here are some tips:

  • Protect your voice traffic using encryption.
  • Use a virtual private network, which will make your network more secure.
  • Use firewalls, and make sure they are properly configured. Many people get deceived with their firewalls, and wrongly so, due to wrong configuration. The reasons thereof is mostly ignorance. One very important item to check with a firewall is whether it supports SIP or H.323.
  • If you are running IP PBXs, lock them down to protect them against viruses and DoS (denial of service) attacks.