What Is A VoIP VPN Router?

For some businesses, the security of their data transmissions is a business requirement. This includes voice data. To encrypt voice data, these businesses use a VoIP VPN router. But what is a VoIP VPN router and how does it work?

Encrypting transmitted data is common practice. Encrypting streaming data is not as common. What kind of business needs to encrypt streaming voice data - the CIA or NSA? Think about hospitals and doctors offices or security-related businesses. These businesses have the privacy of data as one of their highest concerns. Healthcare entities must also abide by HIPAA regulations or face fines and potential lawsuits.

How does a VoIP VPN router play into all of this? We've already mentioned streaming voice data. This is where the VoIP router comes in. Unlike a standard router, a VoIP router is optimized to give priority to voice data. On a standard router, this is not the case. Most standard routers give all data the same priority. This means streaming voice data competes with other data (files downloads, web pages, etc.). The result is dropped calls, latency, and generally poor voice quality.

Small businesses may not even realize their router is the source of voice quality issues. They choose the best unified communications (UCaaS) service provider and wonder why voice quality isn't at least the same as their regular telephone. This can lead to pointing fingers at the communications service provider. Depending on the service provider, they can detect the source of packet loss as occurring at the business owner's office. There is usually an approved list of routers that each UCaaS provider has. This can help narrow the voice quality problem down to the router.

Some standard routers have options in their administration panel for optimizing QoS or Quality of Service. You can allocate space for VoIP so that nothing else travels in that space. One problem is that allocating too much space to VoIP results in over-allocation and sub-optimal performance. You can also prioritize VoIP. In most cases, those configurations remain static and don't account for load changes. Once again, the result is a sub-par performance in voice quality.

A VoIP router uses dynamic QoS. It is able to allow space for VoIP depending on the data load. VoIP gets its own highway on the router that is dynamically configured to the right size at that time. This means VoIP data doesn't have to compete with other data.

The VPN part is used for encryption. A separate hardware device is not required to encrypt VoIP data. Encryption is built into the router. When voice data streams from the computer to the router, it is encrypted using IPsec (Internet Protocol Security). Once the data is received at the other end, it is decrypted in the same way. These two secure endpoints create a secure transmission of VoIP data.

What To Look For When Choosing A VoIP VPN Router?

There are many VoIP VPN routers to choose from and lots of terminologies to learn if you want to make the best decision. We'll try to keep it simple and point out the most important features for choosing a quality router.

QoS has already been mentioned. A VoIP router should be able to manage data load as voice data changes. This will offer the highest voice quality.

H.323 or SIP? These are both transmission protocols. They began development in the mid-1990s but only SIP has continued to evolve. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. Most router manufacturers have adopted SIP as the standard. When choosing a router, make sure that it uses SIP. H.323 may also be offered for any backward compatibility.

VLAN support. VLAN stands for virtual local area network. In a network with one router or switch, computers can send data to each other easily. Nothing is walled off. If you want to group machines by traffic, you can add another physical router or use a VLAN. A VLAN uses one router but is able to separate computers. In this way, it acts like multiple routers.

To summarize the main points in this article:

  • A VoIP VPN router provides the best voice quality while also encrypting it.
  • QoS allows a router to dynamically manage voice load for optimal quality.
  • SIP is the standard for voice transmission.
  • VLANs allow computers to be grouped using only one router.

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