A lot of folks considering Hosted VoIP for the first time wonder if their bandwidth meets the requirements for a hosted solution. The concern was more pressing back in the day when high-speed connections were not as readily available and T1s with their 1.544 Mbps were considered fast.
But, knowledge is power and it’s still good to know the bandwidth necessary for a VoIP call – as well as a couple of things to watch out for even if you’ve got a connection that’s 50 Mbps or more.
What Is Bandwidth?
Though not technically accurate, bandwidth is typically thought of as connection speed by most Internet users. Bandwidth is a range of frequencies measured in hertz (Hz) or usually megahertz (MHz) or a million hertz. Connection speed is the rate of transmission of data over the bandwidth and is measured in kilobits (a thousand bits) per second or Kbps. Once connection speeds got faster it has been more common to refer to speeds in megabits (a million bits) per second or Mbps.
For the purposes of this discussion though, bandwidth and connection speed are interchangeable.
How Much Does a VoIP Call Need?
The bandwidth that a VoIP call uses is based on a variety of factors but most influenced by the VoIP service’s ‘codec’ that is used. A codec – literally stands for coder-decoder, converts your voice into compressed data packets for transmission and then back into uncompressed audio on the other end. Different codecs deliver different sound quality and require different bandwidth.
Today, for high-def sound quality, a single VoIP phone call uses about 90 Kbps. To put another way, 11 concurrent phone calls would use just about 1 Mbps.
So, I’m Ready for VoIP?
Well, having a high-speed internet connection is a good start, but doesn’t guarantee results. Anyone telling you that your network is ready for VoIP based solely on your connection speed is not looking out for your best interests. It’s like a coach telling a player he’s ready for the NBA because he’s 7’ 2” – it’s a great start, but there are other things to consider.
Your hosted provider should assess other factors that could potentially impact your quality of service (QoS) when it comes to your connection. Among them are:
- Latency – delay of voice packet delivery
- Jitter – variations if delay of packet delivery
- Packet Loss – ‘dropped’ packets due to too much traffic
Any of those issues can impact call quality that end users will experience as delayed voice, echoes, choppiness, etc. – so be sure to choose a provider that can assess your readiness properly and has the knowledge and experience to deploy your hosted VoIP system properly.