How to reduce latency and improve VoIP calls.
Latency is a well-known contributor of poor quality VoIP calls. As VoIP calls are real-time, even the slightest delay is noticeable. Persistent high latency can slow down conversations and lead to the dreaded ‘talk over’ effect where one speaker interrupts the other unknowingly.
Latency can cause echoes, making it difficult for the listener to hear and understand what is being said. Moreover, the situation is especially challenging if one, or both, of the callers have pronounced accents, which often happens on international calls.
A survey* in January 2021 by IDC noted, “global business leaders rate latency a higher priority than speed.” The survey also observed that “9 of 10 executives believe business success depends upon low latency.”
Increased incidents of latency in call centers can negatively impact call quality, frustrating both agents and customers.
In the gaming industry, latency isn’t just annoying, it affects the user’s experience and the perceived quality of the game.
So, what exactly is latency?
In telecommunications, latency is the time between when you speak, to when the other person hears your voice. If latency values are high, it can be difficult to conduct conversations and cause frustration. As a result, a long delay in audio being received (or a highly variable delay) can have a severe impact on a caller’s experience. This is especially true in meetings, where larger numbers of people are trying to speak at once.
Latency can be measured in one or both directions and is quantified in terms of milliseconds (ms). Gregg Communication Systems says that “a mere 150 milliseconds of latency, and you’ll start to experience issues in the quality of your calls.” One-way latency is the time it takes for a data packet to travel in one direction only and it is generally used to diagnose network problems. Two-way latency measures the round trip time and is used to calculate MOS (mean opinion scores).
What is VoIP?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) allows individuals to make calls over the internet.
VoIP technology converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other devices. Traditional PSTNs (public switched telephone networks) send data through copper telephone lines. With VoIP, when someone speaks into their phone, the sound is converted into packets of data. Everything sent over the internet is transmitted as a “packet” of information, or data.
A high quality VoIP call depends on the quality of:
- Your internet connection.
- The internet connection at the receiving end of your call.
- The internet connection along the path in between.
While VoIP has several different elements that are important, one of the most overlooked is network latency.
How to reduce latency and improve VoIP calls?
VoIP calls are reliant on internet connections so it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate disruptions caused by latency.
There are steps you can take to reduce latency and improve VoIP calls:
Upgrade, or replace slow networking equipment and devices.
Prioritize your network traffic based on the applications that are most important. Prioritize voice or video traffic for instance. Consider investing in a VoIP-priority router, as downloading large files on a call impacts quality.
Keep your devices up-to-date to ensure there are no defects causing packet loss.
Improve, or change your routing.
If data packets have to take two or more unnecessary journeys to reach their destination, you may need to change or improve your routing. Data from Spearline’s tests allow you to make more informed routing decisions.
Invest in sufficient bandwidth and choose the right Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Ensure your internet connection has adequate bandwidth for your calls and network use. Transportation of voice packets requires particular internet protocols that your provider may not offer. If you have up to 10 phones in use at a time, high speed internet providers can offer “business class” service for VOIP traffic.
Implement Spearline’s latency tests.
Spearline’s latency test allows you to:
- Replicate your customers’ call flow.
- Quantify the amount of latency your customers experience.
- Proactively measure and benchmark any delay.
- Identify where there are variations over time.
Find out more about how the Spearline latency test works here.
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Spearline is the leading network intelligence company in the telecommunications industry. The Spearline platform allows organizations to test connectivity and quality on global telecoms networks. If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch with us.
* Source: news.lumen.com