Why Businesses Should Use A VoIP Router
Anyone who has used VoIP on their home network has likely noticed issues with voice quality. Even with a blazingly fast internet connection, you'd think VoIP would be crystal clear. But that isn't always the case. So then, where is the bottleneck? The very likely problem is the router — and the solution is a VoIP router.
Why VoIP Voice Quality Varies
Standard routers that you'll find in a home network are great for:
- Web surfing
- Downloading files
- Watching videos
But when it comes to VoIP, these routers can cause problems. Most web activity uses HTTP or Hypertext Transport Protocol, which is one of the oldest internet protocols. The activities mentioned above all use HTTP.
To understand why standard routers aren't the best for VoIP, we need to look at a few different protocols. The internet is IP-based. Now, there are other protocols that layer on top of IP, but HTTP is one of them and is a fairly simple protocol. When it comes to voice data, it needs to stream and transmit in real-time. This is in contrast to web surfing, which doesn't stream. In fact, data packets can be lost while surfing, and you'll never notice the difference. Not so with voice data, though.
VoIP uses a protocol called RTP, which stands for Real-time Transport Protocol and is what carries voice data packets. Another protocol called SIP or Session Initiated Protocol creates the connection between VoIP endpoints. As you can see, VoIP is far more complex than downloading a file or some other common web activity. Lost voice packets mean cutting off a word or more. With enough packets lost, the conversation can be difficult to follow, and at some point, the call may drop.
Why are packets lost in the first place? When you're surfing or downloading large files, voice packets have to compete for space on a limited highway within your router. All data packets use the same highway. Thus, voice data needs a clear highway, but that isn't possible when there's other traffic on the same highway.
What is a VoIP Router?
A small business that uses VoIP certainly can't have such low quality for its voice calls. For a small business or home user to increase voice quality, they need to switch out their standard router for one that is optimized to handle VoIP. These are called VoIP routers.
The difference with a VoIP router is that it identifies voice packets and ensures they have a clear path from your voice to the edge of your network. The router can't control anything outside of your network. Once voice packets leave your network, they can still run into problems and degrade, but the router is where most issues occur.
These routers are able to prioritize voice data by using Quality of Service or QoS. QoS is the magic that ensures voice data receives a clear path out of your network. It also does this in a way that allows other traffic to continue using the network uninterrupted. Voice packets are given an allocated amount of space that changes depending on the amount of voice data. There is where the "dynamic" in QoS comes from — and it's what makes all the difference in achieving optimal voice quality.
Can It be Used With Unified Communications Software?
VoIP routers can certainly be used with Unified Communications (UC) software, which can be installed on all workstations. When an employee connects to a call via VoIP, voice packets still go through the business' router. There is always some application involved to make calls using VoIP, and voice packets still need to route through the local router.
If the router being used is a VoIP router, call quality will be enhanced. Especially in a business where many people will be doing different things on the Internet, prioritizing voice calls is critical.
Ultimately, the No. 1 job of a VoIP router is to enhance voice call quality. But unlike a standard router, which makes all internet traffic compete, a VoIP router uses QoS to prioritize voice data in order to ensure it has a clean highway on which to run. The size of the voice highway changes depending on the amount of voice traffic.
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