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DSL, Cable or Fiber: What Do You Need for VoIP

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One of the first decisions you need to make when you want to switch to VoIP is your network connection. What service should you get for the type and amount of digital communications you intend to do? What is the right fit for your home or business?

A home owner or a small- to medium-scale business operator typically has three choices: DSL, Cable or Fiber. Which one is the best?

Know Your Options

The first step in selecting a service is to know your options. What are the differences between DSL, cable and fiber?

Your basic option is to get a digital subscriber line (DSL) service. Here, your internet connection is set up on top of your telephone service. It uses a DSL modem to connect to the internet while keeping phone lines free.

Cable internet access, on the other hand, makes use of the cable television infrastructure to connect to the web. Like DSL, cable is classified as last mile access connectivity. These cable internet services, alongside DSL, are more commonly used by residential internet and VoIP users.

The last option, fiber optics, is perhaps the best one around. Fiber optics internet service is definitely high speed internet, and does not lag even over great distances. This is business class internet that requires professional installation and maintenance.

Fiber optics network services send voice and video data through thin glass fiber cables. Electronic data is sent as light. So, you can just imagine the speed and clarity that you get from fiber internet.

Now, from these three, you need to choose your service based on your needs. Think about the amount of VoIP traffic you expect. Now, decide on the speed and reliability that fit your usage requirements. Plus, choose a service that falls into your monthly budget, taking into consideration any initial investment you need to make for installation, equipment and such.

Internet Speed

The foremost consideration when looking for network services for your VOIP is speed. Digital communication requires a sizable bandwidth allotment. Conversations are made through the exchange of data packets over the digital network. You need to make sure your internet package has enough bandwidth for your telephony needs.

When it comes to speed, the service with the least is DSL. While it is a dedicated line, service providers usually impose a cap between 500 kbit/s and 100 Mbit/s. The average DSL speed ranges between 256 kbit/s and 100 Mbits/s.

Cable, on the other hand, is much faster, at an average of 20 to 100 Mbit/s. This is great for residential users; and good enough for small to medium-scale businesses. The downside with cable is that it is shared. When there is heavy usage within your shared network, your internet speed may slow down.

Compare these with fiber optic speed, which has a minimum of 10 Mbit/s, and can go to a maximum of 10 gbit/s. Fiber internet service is exclusive and dedicated. And, even with distance from the central office, the speed does not lag.

Reliability

Another important consideration is reliability. Your network service provider should have a robust system in place. Since you will use their service for telecommunications, you need to be digitally available 24/7 through consistently good connections.

In this respect, both DSL and cable are good enough for typical residential VoIP needs. These provide consistent service, albeit with some gaps in performance consistency. Cable, in particular, may suffer from latency issues during data packet processing. And, like what was said earlier, speed lags when there is heavy usage within a shared cable network.

DSL and cable may not be the best options when you have a business that needs to rely heavily on VoIP 24/7. Cable may do at the start. However, expect the need for upgrade once your requirements increase.

Fiber broadband is a reliable choice, and resolves bandwidth, latency and other issues. However, a fiber optic line needs to exist between your place of work and the service provider’s central office.

Cost

As expected, fiber broadband adds up as the most costly. Fees start at $350 per month. For DSL and cable internet, fees range from $20 to $100 per month. But then again, you have to consider your needs and number of users.

Businesses usually find the cost of fiber broadband to be worth it once they start to expand. VoIP, through fiber broadband, can be leveraged to improve business processes and hasten growth.

VoIP Monitoring

A key component in making the most of VoIP communications is monitoring your network connections and digital communications services. Third party service providers, such as global VoIP monitoring company VoIP Spear, persistently and consistently test your network’s performance. Should your VoIP and network connection experience problems, you’ll know right away and you can troubleshoot ASAP.

VoIP is an affordable and reliable residential and business communications system as long as you’ve thoroughly considered your network needs, and monitoring and security requisites.

Matt Larson is a traveling writer who stays connected through Wi-Fi and VoIP. He writes for VoIP Spear, a Canada-based global VoIP monitoring company.

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