What Is: Packet Loss

What is Packet Loss? Spearline explains how your calls could be affected by this issue.
On Tuesday 18 August 2020 by Josh O'Farrell

You've heard of Latency, Jitter and Telephone Echo, but have you ever experienced the problem of Packet Loss? 
 

 

1. Packet Loss Explained

Packet loss is when “packets” or pieces of data traveling across a network do not reach their end destination. The end result of these packets failing to reach the opposite end of the network communication leads to missing data, in a VoIP call it would lead to missing pieces of the conversation. 

Packet Loss can cause multiple participants to leave the phone call and either attempt to re-establish a connection or move to another form of communication. When problems occur we often tend to ‘drop the call’ and quickly try to reconnect straight away.

For VoIP calls, dropping one or two minor packets won’t cause too much of an issue – if only one or two words are jumbled, we can generally understand the overall context of the message. However, if packet loss reaches a steady, significant level of 5% to 10% packet loss users will notice entire sentences missing, and awkward pauses in the middle of a conversation. This can be an infuriating experience, something you would wish your customers could avoid.

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2.What Causes Packet Loss?

Because packet loss means the data was dropped somewhere in the network, it is generally caused by an issue within the network. Of course, the challenge would be understanding and locating the exact weak point. Between both lost and discarded packets, there are a wide number of causes for packet loss. Some of which are:

  • Network Congestion: The most obvious, and easiest cause would simply be network congestion. Having too many devices hooked up to the same system, all being used at the same time, will run out of bandwidth, slowing your connection to a crawl. Insufficient bandwidth/ the bandwidth cap to handle a VoIP call will lead to packets being dropped or delivered out of order.
     
  • Bad Hardware: Internet network connections are made through a number of distinct hardware pieces, including modems, routers, and switches. Bad hardware, including an outdated firmware/software, a damaged ethernet cable, or a malfunctioning router, will quickly contribute to issues with call quality.

 

  • Relying on WiFi: While convenient, wireless network connections are simply less robust and reliable compared to a wired connection. Signals can be blocked by walls or furniture, and interference can get in the way creating delays in the delivery of data packets.

 

  • Software Issues: Improper hardware configuration on the software side can lead to packet loss as well. This could range from interoperability bugs in the network to the improper software configuration of your devices.

 

3.Recognizing Packet Loss

Some general network monitoring tools do measure a selection of audio quality factors including packet loss; however, Spearline provides a comprehensive view, and critically, an end-to-end perspective that crosses international carrier networks, going beyond the private network edge into the wider public network that carries genuine customer calls. Our toolsets help businesses to manage and improve telecommunications service quality and improve customer experience. 

Be sure to read our whitepaper 'Beyond Network Monitoring' today for a better in-depth understanding of network monitoring and number testing. 

*For more content, connect with Josh O'Farrell on LinkedIn.

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Spearline is a technology company that proactively tests toll and toll-free numbers for connectivity and audio quality globally. It enables organizations to provide uninterrupted services to customers around the world. For further information, or if you have any further questions please get in touch with us .

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