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VoIP Holiday Tune-Ups

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Holidays are supposed to be a lot of fun. But for the most part, it is also a time of stress and frustration. Pain points range from traffic to shopping frenzies and missed travel connections. You do not want to add VoIP-phone problems to this. Here are a few tips on how to fine-tune your VoIP in time for the holidays.

Monitor Your VoIP Service

This should be foremost on your holiday list. There will be a lot of voice traffic during this season. Friends and family from all over the world will want to get in touch with you through VoIP calls and video conferencing. All this is great – modern time’s convenience – wherein  telecommunications is more affordable and connection is easier.

But then again, it’s wasted if your VoIP or internet service is unreliable. You can only know this through consistent service quality monitoring using third party VoIP testing services, such as VoIP Spear.

Through testing and monitoring, you can pinpoint problem areas in your network and VoIP service. You may be able to address some of the issues yourself, or at least implement remedies on your end. But for the most part, the results that you gain can help your network and VoIP service providers improve the quality of their service in your area.

Check Your Hardware

Your hardware might also have something to do with how your VoIP performs. Foremost here is the quality of your router and ATA (if you are using one). Low quality or “broken” gear affects how fast and clearly you receive voice packets. Likewise, according to some technicians, the proximity of your gear to each other also affects audio quality. If your hardware is too close to each other, you may experience feedback, noise and even dropped calls. Don’t forget to check your cables too. Cut wiring will definitely cause VoIP problems.

QoS It!

And finally, QoS. Yes, this seems to be the magic word when it comes to fixing VoIP quality from the user’s end. QoS is short for Quality of Service, which you can tweak from your router’s control panel. Through this handy tool, you can set priorities in the handling of data packets. You can prioritize according to device, IP address, MAC address, and application. You can also set upload and download speed.

You need to change the default QoS setting if you want to customize how your router treats data packets from VoIP, gaming and file sharing – the three biggest bandwidth users in a typical consumer network scenario.

But first, before you set priorities, make sure that you tweak your upload and download speed to about 70% to 80% of its average capacity. To know your network capacity, do a speed test while there are no active file transfer. Once you get your upload and download number, tweak your QoS setting to just a percentage of this. What you want to happen is to set it such that it triggers the implementation of your QoS priorities. Without these limits, QoS priorities are useless.

Now, let’s go to setting priorities. You can choose from 5 priority settings: Exempt, Premium, Express, Standard and Bulk.

Exempt is the highest priority you can give. Technically, bandwidth usage from Exempt applications and such should not be affected by QoS settings. However, in practice, these applications get to use 60% to 100% of bandwidth, as needed.

If you want to prioritize VoIP and perhaps video applications in time for holiday greetings, assign their applications as Exempt in your router’s QoS settings. It is also a good idea to de-prioritize file sharing when you prioritize voice and video. Assign Bulk priority to file sharing applications.

About VoIP Spear

VoIP Spear started in 2009. It is based in SK, Canada, and maintains testing servers all over North America. For home use, testing is free.

About Matt Larson

Matt is a tech blogger, currently associated with VoIP Spear. He is based in the US, and enjoys diving in his free time.

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