troubleshooting tips for voip phone systems

In this blog, we will discuss some common problems and their troubleshooting tips for VoIP Phone systems. VoIP phone systems are becoming increasingly popular with Canadian companies, regardless of their calling. Making the decision to install VoIP phone systems is a simple decision because they have proven to be more functional, more efficient, and less costly. However, like any technology, VOIP systems can experience problems that can impact call quality and reliability.

The proper functioning of VoIP phone systems depends on your network, your Internet, your phone system, and your service provider. As a consumer, you can educate yourself to solve common problems that may arise, or at least learn how to identify issues and ask an expert to fix them.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

The most common problems can be caused by a failure or degradation in:

  • Internet Quality and Capacity Issues
  • Routing and Switching Issues
  • Firewall and Security Issues
  • Server and Phone Issues
  • Cabling and Wiring Issues

1. Internet Quality and Capacity Issues

Remember that VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Your internet provider plays an important role in the proper functioning of these devices. If there is an interruption between your computers and your ISP, the system will not work. This is why some companies consider having a second internet connection as a backup. In short, ensure that your internet connection is strong and stable and that your network is not experiencing any bandwidth issues.

Common Issues with Internet Quality and Capacity:

  • Intermittent drops or Choppy Audio: Normally occurs when there is packet loss high jitter insufficient bandwidth or an overloaded server.
  • Delayed Audio: This can occur where latency is excessive or networks are congested.
  • Garbled or Distorted Audio: This is often caused by jitter caused by network quality or congestion issues

Is your capacity or bandwidth adequate for the number of employees using the network? Some companies do not verify that the bandwidth or capacity of their Internet connectivity can support their VoIP phone system. It may be time to upgrade to a better connection or switch to a different channel (fiber instead of ADSL, etc.).

Since voice is real-time communication, internet quality is extremely important. This means network parameters such as packet loss, jitter, and latency must all be within reasonable levels in order to ensure flawless audio quality. These parameters can be tested throughout the day to gauge network performance. We aim for packet loss of 0%, jitter of less than 10ms, and latency below 100ms.

2. Routing and Switching Issues

The local area network is the information highway that all business applications use to communicate. If the local network routing and switching devices are not designed and configured according to the needs of the business, communication may be affected. Common issues are similar to those described above.

  • Common strategies employed when designing a reliable network infrastructure may include:
  • Employing multiple WAN connections with load balancing, failover, and policy-based routing.
  • Segregating voice and data traffic through a variety of methods which may include VLANs.

Configuring QoS on network traffic to ensure that real-time communication applications are assigned a higher level of quality so they are assigned more network resources as compared to other less important applications.

3. Firewall and Security Issues 

VoIP phone systems when connected to the Internet are at risk of cyber-attacks if the correct security is not in place. Some companies suffer cyber-attacks from weak or stolen passwords, fraud calls, or poorly configured or missing firewalls. This makes designing, configuring, and maintaining a firewall or network security device extremely important.

Common Issues with Firewall and security

  • No Audio or One Way Audio: Usually caused by incorrect firewall settings or SIP ALG
  • Loss of Call or Audio on Transfer: Usually caused by incorrect firewall settings or SIP ALG
  • Fraud Calls: Usually caused hacked extensions due to insufficient security protocols or gaps in the implementation of security policies
  • Weak/Stolen Passwords: Usually caused by insufficient security protocols or gaps in the implementation of security policies

Firewalls are the first line of defense from the outside world. However, poorly configured firewalls can do more harm than good. Some companies avoid this cost and complexity by not using firewalls, which is extremely dangerous. VOIP phone systems may require specific firewall settings to function correctly. Ensure that your firewall is configured to allow VoIP traffic and that any necessary ports are open. We recommend using an enterprise-grade next-generation firewall with up-to-date unified threat management and active management and monitoring.

The second line of defense is the device password. It is important to implement a strong password policy to avoid device hacking. Weak passwords attract hackers. When a device is compromised, the hacker will use it to make long-distance calls at your expense.

It is also a good idea to periodically review call history to detect and report any unusual traffic.

4. Server and Phone Issues

Common Issues with server and phone:

  • Dirty Microphone or Speaker: Audio complaints are often resolved by cleaning dirt and grime that has accumulated in the perforated holes covering the microphone or speaker.
  • Crackly audio: Often a frayed or loose cable or damaged connector is to blame.
  • Voice Echo: This can be due to room acoustics, problems with phone hardware, or when using poor-quality headsets or speakerphones with insufficient echo cancellation.
  • Background Noise: This can be due to the environment, room acoustics, faults with the phone microphone/speaker, or poor quality hardware with insufficient noise cancellation.
  • Features malfunctioning: This is often caused by outdated firmware. However, sometimes the phone reboot resolves such issues.
  • All calls failing or not routing: A server malfunction or capacity issue may be to blame. Sometimes a server restart resolves such issues.

5. Cabling and Wiring Issues

In-suite network wiring and all the jacks and cables connecting your devices form the physical infrastructure that ties everything together. When installed this should be properly tested, tagged, and labeled to ensure connectivity is reliable and never suspect.

Common Issues with cable and wiring:

  • No Network: If the phone says “No Network”, this means there is a break in connectivity somewhere or that cable is not connected to the working switch port.
  • Poor Audio: If a device is experiencing poor audio and all other options have been tested, a faulty cable may be the culprit.
  • Handset issues: Often the curly cord connecting the handset to the phone can become frayed and faulty resulting in poor audio

Need Personalized Recommendation?

Many problems with VoIP phone systems are easily solved with the right knowledge and experience. Working with a knowledgeable service provider can save a tremendous amount of time and sanity when designing, maintaining, and supporting your business communication solution.

If you have further questions regarding the use of VoIP phone systems, do not hesitate to contact the experts at RingOffice.