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Guide to VoIP Network Requirements

A complete guide to VoIP network requirements.

Choosing the right provider is not the only factor needed to build a successful VoIP phone system for business communication. You also need to ensure that your IT infrastructure can support the service and your calling needs.

For instance, do you have enough bandwidth to run 50 calls at the same time? Or, are you paying attention to the different types of traffic flowing through your network and the prioritization of voice calls?

If you’re not doing these things, you will run into call quality and reliability issues, which render VoIP relatively weak.

In this guide, we’ll go over key VoIP network requirements and what you need to make your VoIP phone system work efficiently for your business.

We’ll specifically look at:

What Do You Need to Make VoIP Work?

A VoIP service can help your business save on communications costs; 90% on international calling and 75% on operational costs. And since teams can make and receive calls from any location, you can connect distributed teams and increase collaboration and productivity. But this only works if implemented well.

So, besides getting IP phones and a VoIP phone service, what else do you need to make and place web calls efficiently? Voice over IP – as the name suggests – is an internet-based calling technology. So, it depends largely on your internet network to be reliable and high quality. If your network is weak or lacks support, then your voice calls will suffer.

To properly understand the reasoning behind VoIP network requirements, we first need to understand how a VoIP network works. Let’s take a look.

Understanding How a VoIP Network Works

Your business’ internal network (LAN) connects your VoIP devices to your provider. This LAN is typically built on an ethernet infrastructure, especially in commercial and office environments. Your local VoIP network will function over this ethernet setup.

In rare cases where you don’t have an existing ethernet network, it is pretty easy to set one up. Your ISP can help you with this.

Now, when you make and receive voice calls through your VoIP phone number, voice signals are converted into data packets and transmitted across these networks. As the call leaves your internal VoIP network, it will continue to travel over your carrier’s network to its end destination. Upon arrival, the digital packets will reassemble into audio signals.

Understanding how a VoIP network works.

To ensure your VoIP service works efficiently, you must do two critical things:

  • Set up VoIP correctly, meeting its network requirements
  • Choosing a reliable and high-quality VoIP provider.

VoIP Network Requirements

So, what do you need for VoIP to function properly?

  1. Adequate network bandwidth
  2. Wired connections
  3. QoS and data prioritization
  4. Network monitoring and testing
  5. Right equipment
  6. Network security and encryption

Let’s look at each of these in detail!

1. Network Bandwidth

The most important network requirement for VoIP is a high-speed broadband connection.

While IP calling doesn’t need much, VoIP requires adequate bandwidth to handle your business’s specific call traffic. Specifically, you need enough bandwidth to support calls occurring simultaneously.

The general requirement and recommendation for good VoIP call quality is 100 kbps per line for voice services.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to use only up to 80% of the available bandwidth. This means you can use the other 20% for other applications such as email, CRM, streaming, etc. Going beyond that will lead to network congestion and call quality issues. And if you find usage nearing 80% often, it’s time to upgrade.

You can use the below table to calculate how much bandwidth you will need for only voice calls:

Number of Concurrent Calls Bandwidth Recommended
1 100 Kbps
5 500 Kbps
10 1 Mbps
15 1.5 Mbps
20 20 Mbps

2. Wired vs Wireless (WiFi)

Next, when adding VoIP to your network infrastructure, connect IP devices to a wired Ethernet cable instead of WiFi. We recommend using a Cat 5e or Cat 6 Ethernet cable for best results. More specifically, use a Power over Ethernet or PoE switch for efficient delivery of data and power to VoIP devices over one wired connection.

While VoIP can function over wireless networks, it is less reliable. So, another way to prevent congested networks and low call quality is to avoid running VoIP over wireless connections. If your resources are limited to WiFi, then ensure your business uses a professional and secure WiFi connection with at least 802.11ac or Gigabit WiFi for better quality.

3. QoS and Data Prioritization

It is also a good idea to monitor and prioritize VoIP data compared to other network traffic. You know best when your business will experience high call traffic and bandwidth usage. But sometimes, it may be too late to adjust how traffic is prioritized over your network.

Setting up VoIP QoS – quality of service – beforehand balances out how much bandwidth is needed for different types of traffic. This way, you can assign more bandwidth space for VoIP traffic and less bandwidth for video downloading, streaming, etc.

QoS has helped many users avoid or troubleshoot common VoIP quality issues. And because of that, it is typically considered one of the important VoIP network requirements. In fact, it is often something your provider will suggest implementing.

Check if your router supports QoS. To set up QoS, contact your ISP and VoIP provider. Each provider and service will have its own guide on configuring QoS.

For the most part, you can do this by yourself without the help of an IT team. But if you have an in-house IT team, work with them to understand what is being done and monitor it in the future.

4. Network Monitoring and Testing

Another best practice to include in your VoIP implementation is monitoring your network. Now, most providers will monitor their telephony network to ensure their customers are not dealing with any voice calling issues.

But, on your end, you’ll want to regularly monitor and test your network to ensure everything is working properly. There are many speed tests available online that you can use to test your network speed. More importantly, do this when your users run into problems such as audio delays, connectivity issues, and so on.

5. VoIP Device Requirements

Now onto the devices you need to set up your VoIP phone system. This setup will look different for every business and depends on how your teams are distributed, what devices you prefer using, and how they communicate.

But generally speaking, here’s a list of different equipment needed for VoIP:

  1. Headphones or Deskphones — IP-enabled phones
  2. Softphones — web-based app or browser extension
  3. Computers or Laptops — to use in conjunction with webphones
  4. Headsets with mic and noise-canceling technology

6. Network Security and Encryption

Providers will have their own VoIP security and encryption protocols. However, you will also need to protect your business’ network and data. Ensure devices and software are password-protected. Use hardware and software encryption on all applications and devices. Run regular security checks to test the system and look for vulnerabilities or quality issues.

Check out our VoIP security guide for a checklist of best security practices.

Working with Your VoIP Provider

The best way to ensure you set your VoIP phone system up for success is to work with your provider. First, choose a reliable and responsive provider. This is your main point of contact for VoIP-related questions and issues. Then, work closely with them to implement the right protocols and network requirements for VoIP.

Our tech support and telecom experts are ready to help you understand how to best set up VoIP for your business.

Want to learn more? Chat with us or call us at +1 (561) 276-7156. You can also check out our VoIP guides online!

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