Businesses of all sizes and across all industries need a phone service that is reliable for day-to-day communication. Having reliable communication is critical for high-quality customer experience and customer service. It is estimated that just a two percent increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits and cutting costs by 10 percent1, which is just one rationale for implementing a quality communication strategy.
Using Hosted VoIP to Improve Business Communication
Hosted VoIP is a type of business phone service that sends voice data over an internet network. It’s often significantly cheaper than traditional business phone systems and provides the reliability, flexibility, and low costs businesses look for in a communication service.
But moving to hosted VoIP isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. The hardware used for a hosted VoIP service resides at an off-site location, usually a data center or private vendor location, and because hosted VoIP uses the internet to provide communication, it has specific internet service requirements.
So if your business phone relies on the internet, what bandwidth do you need for it to work?
Bandwidth vs Quality of Service
Bandwidth is the natural concern many businesses have when considering VoIP services, but it actually isn’t the most important factor. Instead of bandwidth, the question is about quality of service (QoS).
Quality of service refers to the overall ability of your business’s internet to handle the workload you put on it. It includes five key elements, including bandwidth.
Latency is the delay, or lag, that can negatively affect internet quality, and therefore the quality of VoIP communications. High latency is noticeable to customers, causing slow and overlapping conversations, voice echo, and distorted synchronization during video conferencing, decreasing that customer satisfaction. Latency is measured in milliseconds, with a 20 ms average in VoIP and 150 ms maximum latency before the QoS is noticeably disrupted.2
Jitter also refers to lag, but refers to a more steady delay instead of distorted synchronization. Jitter is a variable, unpredictable delay in packet delivery. Packets are generated and sent from the source in a predictable, evenly spaced flow; so jitter occurs due to factors during transmission such as network congestion, or errors in packet prioritization or network configuration.
Instead of a delay in packet delivery, certain network problems may result in the loss of data entirely, also known as packet loss. The heavier the packet loss, the lower the QoS of the system. A consistent 5-10 percent packet loss will result in difficulty in phone communications, failure to deliver documents, or problems with streaming content. Causes of packet loss include network congestion, high latency or jitter, aging infrastructure, or errors in configuration.
In VoIP, a reliable internet connection is critical for the consistency of all communications: phone, internet, email and fax. When the internet connection fails, resulting in downtime, all VoIP communications fail; so selecting a VoIP with maximum uptime is foundational to the overall quality of VoIP communications.
Bandwidth refers to the rate that data can be transferred over the VoIP network. The bandwidth allocated by your service provider ensures that communications can be made concurrently without disrupting network traffic. Higher bandwidth may act as a buffer to help prevent issues such as packet loss, jitter, or high latency.
Test Your Quality of Service Before Purchasing Hosted VoIP
Bandwidth is an important factor in the quality of service of a VoIP system; however, it is not the only consideration. If your company is considering a change to a hosted VoIP system, one of the first things that can advance the process is conducting a QoS test.
A QoS test can be conducted in seconds and provide valuable feedback on the current state of your network. This data can help determine whether or not your existing service can support high-quality, hosted VoIP for your reliable communication strategy.
The ClarityTel VoIP QoS test authenticates the speed and quality of your current network settings by sending a test packet to and from your location. With this, the test measures download and upload speeds, latency, and round-trip time (RTT) for the data packet. These results can help to inform your conversation with potential hosted VoIP providers, help you decide if hosted VoIP is right for your business.