Sunday, February 15, 2009

How Much Bandwidth is Required for VoIP Phones?

A long-standing question for potential VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) consumers is “How much bandwidth does a VoIP phone require to make quality telephone calls?”

First of all, Bandwidth is defined as the ability to transfer data (such as a VoIP telephone call) from one point to another in a fixed amount of time. The higher the bandwidth speed you have, the more data you can send over your Broadband Internet connection.

There are two types of bandwidth at your location: upload bandwidth and download bandwidth. The Upload Bandwidth is the amount of data you can send to the Internet and download bandwidth is the amount of data you can receive from the Internet. The more Internet bandwidth you have from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) the better.

In most cases, the normal VoIP telephone call will use up 90 Kbps (kilobits per second). If you have a Broadband Internet service provider that doesn’t offer much bandwidth then most VoIP providers give you the option to lower the VoIP voice quality by lowering the bandwidth used for VoIP calls to 60 Kbps or, to really conserve your bandwidth, 30 Kbps. Most people can't tell the difference between the three settings. We suggest you use the high sound quality setting (90 Kpbs in most cases), if bandwidth is not an issue. High VoIP voice quality is generally the default setting but if you are running into a situation where your bandwidth is limited then you can adjust your VoIP bandwidth to one of the lower settings. Some consumers with 128 Kbps upload connections can receive less VoIP service quality due to a poor quality ISP (Internet Service Provider). By selecting a lower quality VoIP bandwidth setting, this problem can be avoided.

If you plan on using a VoIP service provider, should you get a DSL or a Cable Internet access provider? In general, DSL upload bandwidth starts at 128k where as Cable Internet upload bandwidth starts at around 600k. Cable Internet is a little bit more expensive, but it is also about 4-5 times faster than residential DSL and a bit friendlier to a VoIP telephone call. Having said that, both DSL and cable modem high-speed services provide sufficient broadband Internet access bandwidth to support any of the top VoIP service providers. If you are experiencing low Broadband Internet Service provider bandwidth, we suggest you try Packet8 VoIP. Packet8 VoIP boasts an advanced compression technology in which each active voice line uses approximately only 23Kbps of total data throughput, upstream and downstream.

The amount of bandwidth that a VoIP provider requires to make a quality telephone call is only one thing to consider when choosing a VoIP service provider. In fact, there are many things to consider when choosing a VoIP provider. An educated consumer generally results in a satisfied consumer.

Things to Consider When Selecting a VoIP Provider

The following are very important factors to consider when you are selecting a Voice over IP provider. Educate yourself and be informed before you choose.

Monthly costs: A VoIP provider can save you up to 75% on your telephone/long distance expenses. There are many Voice over IP providers out there so it will benefit you from shopping around. Unlimited calling packages can range from $19.95/month to as high as $54.95/month. Usually the lower priced providers have more customers and are able to offer the service at a lower price due to a lower overhead per subscriber

VoIP Product Features: Not all VoIP providers are created equal. Voice over IP offers a great value to the consumers because of the drastically reduced long distance costs as well as inexpensive local phone service with lots of enhanced features. Some providers offer more features than others. Features like Call Waiting, 3 Way Calling, etc. are usually included in the VoIP monthly cost where as the traditional phone companies will charge up to and above $5/month per feature. When shopping for a VoIP provider, be sure to compare VoIP providers by features as well as by monthly price.

Keeping Your Number: Some providers allow you to transfer (port) your current phone number to the VoIP service and some providers do not. It is not recommended to switch your home number to the VoIP service immediately. It is recommended that you try out the service and see if you are satisfied before you request that your current number be switched. Keep in mind that if you have DSL service, you must retain a phone number with the service provider of the DSL because the DSL service is provided over that telephone line. If you want to get rid of your current phone company all together, then we suggest you use a Cable Internet Service Provider.

911 Service: Most of the Voice over IP carriers offer E911 service, but not all. Be sure to check if the Voice over IP provider offers E911 because it is not a given. If the VoIP provider does not offer E911, then we suggest that you either have a cell phone or traditional landline to use in case of an emergency. (Note: It is also important to point out that if you take your VoIP phone when traveling, E911 has no way of knowing where you are when you call 911 if you are away from the registered address.)

International Calling: If you make a lot of international calls, you will want to do a lot of research on International Rates as they vary by provider. There are a few carriers that offer unlimited calling to certain countries.

Money Back Guarantee: Since VoIP is a relatively new product; most all VoIP providers will offer a free money back guarantee. Be sure to check with each provider as we have seen the money back guarantees range from a 14-day to a 30-day money back guarantee. (Note: Be sure to keep the original packaging that your equipment came in just in case you need to send it back)

This is only a short list. In fact, there are many things to consider when choosing a VoIP provider. An educated consumer generally results in a satisfied consumer.