QoS (Quality of Service) is the mechanism used to ensure the prioritization of connection traffic and guarantee minimum bandwidth. To picture this more clearly, let’s imagine being in the office or in our own home where the internet is being shared with several people. Each person will be using the network differently, so one user may be harming another user’s experience by hogging too much bandwidth. This can often happen when one user is watching videos or downloading large files, as it typically takes up more bandwidth.
The situation described above is very common, and because of this, it’s necessary to know how the internet works and what relationship it has with Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP systems.
How does QoS work?
Generally speaking, QoS measures the bandwidth and prioritizes the packets according to the priority queues. As we already know, the network connection is limited by the broadband capacity that you have contracted with your service provider. Your broadband is in charge of managing QoS, which involves trying to give your prioritized packets preference in traffic.
QoS treats data packets in a particular way depending on the type of packet it is. For example, it can classify the packets according to the origin or destination port or according to the MAC address, among many other possibilities. That way, the system is able to differentiate where the packet should go and what it is: a videoconference, a movie that we are streaming, an online game, etc.
When the packets are classified and QoS establishes which packets are priorities, they are ordered and will come out of different queues according to the type of packet. This is how QoS manages network traffic, which is also known as bandwidth management.
But what does this have to do with VoIP phone systems?
Digital marketing tools have had an increased demand over the last few years. However, phone calls are still a very important marketing tool for most companies. As conventional telephone lines are too limited in an increasingly digitized world, the establishment of VoIP phone systems has recently skyrocketed.
However, keep in mind that simply owning a phone line does not mean you are providing adequate customer service. Good audio quality of a VoIP phone system is also essential.
Customers should feel secure when contacting a company, knowing that their calls will be answered without long holds. In addition, once a conversation has started, their calls shouldn’t be dropped or interrupted. They expect to be heard clearly throughout their calls.
Fiber connections in most businesses usually range from 100 Mb to Gb, which definitely exceeds most connections that existed only a few years ago. However, although bandwidth increases, the bandwidth we are consuming also increases. Even though VoIP phone calls do not require an unusual amount of bandwidth, sometimes users will find that other office activities can saturate the network and cause a drop in call quality.
What VoIP phone system problems does QoS solve?
Many companies decide to hire VoIP telephony services to project a more professional image to their customers and suppliers. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that if calls are dropped and are of poor quality, the strategy can be counterproductive.
If our network is saturated, the communication in real time is especially harmed. With video, audio, or both at the same time, it becomes impossible to continue with an online phone conversation.
VoIP telephony can guarantee high quality calls if the signaling and audio channels have priority over other uses of the network. For a customer to enjoy good audio quality, the following problems must be solved – latency, jitter, echo and packet loss:
Latency: This occurs when packets take too long to reach their destination, often because they can be part of long queues or take a less direct route. Excessive latency can make a VoIP system unusable.
Jitter: A variation of latency. The latency of a data packet will spontaneously vary with respect to its position in the queues, and this can seriously affect audio or video quality.
Echo: Where the voice of the outgoing transmission is reflected back to the same person in return of the transmission, which can make communication very uncomfortable.
Packet loss: Real-time communication is based on UPD, which means that if a packet is lost, it will not be forwarded. This makes communication between users impossible.
When we activate QoS, our router will give bandwidth priority to the VoIP system in respect to the rest of the network traffic. That way, we may find a solution for problems that may have derived from any of the previous situations and improve the quality of calls.