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.
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 it.
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
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 backup.
– Intermittent drops or Choppy Audio: Normally occurs when there is packet loss or high jitter or insufficient bandwidth or an overloaded server.
– Delayed Audio: 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.
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.
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.
– 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 implementation of security policies
– Weak/Stolen Passwords: Usually caused by insufficient security protocols or gaps in implementation of security policies
Firewalls are the first line of defense from the outside world. However, a poorly configured firewalls can do more harm than good. Some companies avoid this cost and complexity of by not using firewalls, which is extremely dangerous. We recommend using an enterprise grade next generation firewall with up to date unified threat management and active management and monitoring.
A 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.
Server and Phone Issues
– 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: Can be due to room acoustics, problems with phone hardware, or when using poor quality headsets or speakerphones with insufficient echo cancellation.
– Background Noise: Can be due to environment, room acoustics, faults with phone microphone/speaker or poor quality hardware with insufficient noise cancellation.
– Features malfunctioning: This is often caused by outdated firmware. However sometimes and 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.
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 labelled to ensure connectivity is reliable and never suspect.
– No Network: If the phone says “No Network”, this means there is a break in connectivity somewhere or that cable is not connected to 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
Still need help?
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.