Do you know what VoIP stands for? No, not Very Outstandingly Important Phone, although that would be pretty great. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Internet is literally VoIP’s middle name, and a strong internet connection is the most important part of good VoIP function.
These days, large bandwidth allotments are available for businesses through most major internet providers. You might need one if you want to upgrade your phone system to VoIP. Making sure that you have a proper connection before signing up can save you and your customers a lot of hassle in the long run.
How Much Bandwidth Do I Need?
Although people have a tendency to blame the VoIP provider for bad connections, more often than not, the blame lies with your internet provider. Inadequate internet connections can lead to bad sound quality or even dropped calls. If you’ve ever experienced a robotic-sounding Skype call, you know exactly what that sounds like.
So, how much bandwidth does your office need to support VoIP? That depends on your particular office.
Number of In-House Employees: How many people are going to be making calls on your VoIP system? If you only have one or two employees, a regular high-speed internet system should be able to handle the addition of VoIP.
If you have more than a handful of workers, you may need to upgrade to a business internet plan. Larger operations may want to look at enterprise-level plans.
Call Volume: No, we don’t mean how loud your calls are – we mean how many you expect to be making and receiving. If your company has limited call volume, a slower connection may suffice. Bustling call centers and high-volume businesses will want to make sure their internet connections can handle a lot of activity.
Internet Use: What are you using your internet connection for? Some companies put a lot more strain on their connection than others. If your company relies on the web mostly for email, you are not going to need as much bandwidth as a company that does a lot of downloading and uploading of large files.
Other Connection Considerations
Signing up for a hefty bandwidth allotment isn’t quite enough to keep your VoIP running smoothly. Keep these elements in mind as well so your calls to customers (and the occasional pizza joint) can be crystal clear.
Router: Your router has to be up to speed as well. The ideal router for VoIP has a Quality of Service settings function so you can give VoIP the biggest slice of the pie.
Offsite Workers: If some of your workers do not work from your office, check with them and make sure their internet connections can handle VoIP. If the connections are not adequate, you may have to arrange for them to get new service providers.
Bandwidth Caps: Some internet providers put a cap on the amount of bandwidth you are allowed to use. Ask about this and monitor your usage if this is the case. You may have to switch to a different plan or switch providers if it becomes an issue.
If a bandwidth cap poses a problem, you can ease it by setting some new rules for internet use at the office. If you have more than a few employees, restricting access to bandwidth-sucking sites like Pandora and YouTube may be for the best. Your workers can always watch kittens running around in circles when they get home.
If you inspect your internet connection situation before getting VoIP, you will be avoiding many of the pitfalls that others inevitably fall into down the line. If you need more advice about which plan is best for you, ask your chosen VoIP provider. You can also leave us a comment so we can help you mull it over.