- 7 Ways to Improve VoIP Call Quality - Fox Business
- 'Bill & Ted' Telephone Booths Are Being Made for the Public - HYPEBEAST
- 5 advantages (and 1 disadvantage) of VoIP business systems - AZ Big Media
Posted: 06 Jun 2019 09:51 AM PDT
If you've purchased a business Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service, then you're undoubtedly savoring the bliss of lower calling rates as well as integrating your phone data with your other business applications, especially your customer relationship management (CRM) software and your help desk operation.
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But the core metric by which you'll continue to measure VoIP success is, well, voice. Is the call quality still as good as it was before you digitized your phone? If conversations are garbled or drop sporadically, all the other benefits of VoIP really don't mean much. Fortunately, solutions such as Editors' Choice tools Intermedia Unite and RingCentral generally offer incredible voice quality. Even mid-tier solutions tend to show a marked improvement over local telco systems and smartphones. But a lot of that quality depends on more than how the VoIP vendor engineered their solution. Much of it rests on the underlying network, and that's a combination of your IT staff and your Internet provider. Thankfully, we've put together this list of potential problems and solutions to keep your business calls clear and garble-free.
However, before you continue investing time and effort making adjustments to your hardware and network, it might be prudent for you to contact your VoIP service provider. Their customer service engineers might be able to pinpoint your specific problem and offer you a fix much faster than a general IT staffer who doesn't deal with VoIP issues every day. You should also contact your internet service provider (ISP) to ensure they're not suffering a major broadband meltdown. If both of those calls prove fruitless, or if you've already spent too many hours listening to the sweet sounds of hold music, try the following six recommendations.
1. Jitter Ju Jitsu
Cisco has a wonderful explanation of what jitter is and how it can impact your VoIP call quality. Essentially, voice data is sent through your network in packets organized in chronological order. According to Cisco, "network congestion, improper queuing, or configuration errors" can cause delays in how these packets are organized and received.
In order to fix the issue, upgrade your Ethernet cord to a Category 6 (CAT6) cable. Your VoIP provider may have given you a previous-generation Category 5 (CAT5) cable, which only supports about 125 MHz, while CAT6 cables can transmit data at around 250 MHz. This is the easiest fix. For minor VoIP issues, this trick should solve your problem.
If the new cable doesn't unjitter your jitters, then try implementing a jitter buffer. Your VoIP vendor will happily help you configure a buffer, which will temporarily store your data packets in the sequence in which they are received, and then transmit those packets into your network in evenly spaced intervals. This will help to deliver voice data in a manner that is more accurate to how it was spoken.
2. Buy a New Headset
VoIP headsets range in price from really cheap $1 earpieces to $400 luxury headsets. You wouldn't expect your favorite recording artist to mix an album using a cheap set of headphones, though, so why would you manage your business with a cruddy VoIP headset? When choosing a headset, there are a bunch of factors to consider. For one, if call quality is your main concern, choose noise-cancelling headphones that deliver sound in both ears. Corded and USB headsets typically deliver more stable sound quality than wireless or Bluetooth headsets
3. Buy a VoIP-Optimized Router
Don't let your standard home or small business router transmit your business VoIP calls. You should buy a router that expressly prioritizes VoIP traffic over other types of internet data. These routers can be as inexpensive as $200 for small businesses or as expensive as $3,000 for more heavy-duty use. It's also important that your router supports the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which helps to deliver data reliably between the client and the server. You'll also want virtual LAN (VLAN) support, which helps to group and disperse data based on where latency is lowest.
4. Monitor Your Network Traffic
As previously mentioned, the amount of bandwidth being used on your network will have an impact on your call audio. If jitter buffers don't solve your problem, try protecting your VoIP traffic stream. IT professionals can use most any network monitoring tool to identify which packet streams on their networks are carrying VoIP data. That allows them to tag that traffic and protect it in a number of ways. In small business settings, one of the most popular methods is to employ Quality of Service (QoS) protection on tagged VoIP data. Essentially, this lets an IT pro dedicate a portion of your overall bandwidth (let's say 10 percent) to carrying VoIP. That 10 percent will always be there for your voice traffic no matter what anyone else is doing on the network.
5. Interference Clearance
Phones with higher GHz frequencies tend to produce interference. Your typical VoIP phone runs at 2.4 GHz. However, there are also 5.8-GHz phones on the market as well as a variety of 5-GHz devices, including VoIP equipment. In general, the 2.4-GHz band gives you a longer range but its data throughput is slower. The 5-GHz band provides less coverage, but where it does cover, data will flow faster.
If you're experiencing interference, then check to see on which frequency your phone runs. If you've got a 5.8-GHz phone, then switch to a 2.4-GHz phone (some phones even let you choose). Also, most home and small business routers, as well as most Wi-Fi range extenders, offer the ability to either choose whether to run in the 2.4-GHz versus 5-GHz spectrums or run both simultaneously, allowing you to choose which traffic will run in which spectrum. Check with your VoIP provider's service technicians and ask about optimal performance for their particular platform.
6. Standardize Your Mobile VoIP
Communicating on the go is something most businesses, even smaller ones, need to address. Some folks need to make sure their smartphone rings when someone dials their desk extension if they're at home or on the road; others simply need to make sure they can wander around the office or campus with a fully functioning headset in their ear. To keep call quality good, you'll want to look at all of the ways your employees are conducting their mobile conversations, and then look to standardize.
For those looking to wander the office, consider a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phone. Because these phones essentially utilize their own spectrum, using one to access your VoIP system means less chance of interference from other wireless sources. And depending on which VoIP vendor you've chosen, you may be able to opt for a DECT phone that's available through that vendor, which means fewer installation hassles. For some in-system configurations, it's just a matter of plugging the phone into an open USB port on the host system.
If you're one of those who needs their smartphone to ring when their desk phone is dialed, contact your VoIP provider and see what they've got in the way of a softphone or call forwarding options. The softphone is usually the more attractive option as these are software apps that turn whatever they're running on into something that can take and make VoIP phone calls. This way, you can conduct conversations, shared meetings, and other collaborative tasks using your desktop, your notebook, or a wide variety of mobile devices, especially smartphones. Using the softphone built by your VoIP provider guarantees full compatibility with your phone service and also means their customer service technicians will have an easier time identifying and solving problems. These days, some vendors, such as Dialpad , have eliminated hardware phones entirely, opting to offer their entire service portfolio via software.
7. If All Else Fails, Hire an Expert
Sure, DIY is part of modern VoIP's attraction. Even business-grade VoIP providers often tout how easy it is to "get up and running fast." And as we saw when we tested these products, that's mostly true. But when you've hit a performance snag where calls are garbled or even dropping sometimes, and you've exhausted both your in-house expertise and your customer service rep's calling script, it's time to think about hiring outside help.
Fortunately, today's VoIP consultants can do a lot more than simply install and maintain a VoIP system. These companies typically also work on optimizing your Wi-Fi network coverage as that's often part and parcel of a top performing VoIP system. And they can help with getting your communications to the next level by implementing advanced features, such as securing your call data and transmissions, automating shared meetings and scheduling, designing a full-functioning auto-attendant (aka an Interactive Voice Response or IVR system, something most business VoIP systems can do as long as you're willing to put in the time to set it up), developing custom integrations with your other back-end software, and even setting up call analytics and dashboards, not just for billing, but for marketing and sales, too.
Sure, hiring help will cost money, but as long as you take the time to fully investigate what your chosen consultant can do, you'll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Posted: 12 Jun 2019 02:25 AM PDT
Fans of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure will soon be able to purchase their very own telephone booth seen in the time-travelling series.
According to a release, this will all be made possible thanks to Cubicall, a custom manufacturer of phone booths for offices. The company announced over the weekend they intend to release a phone booth with a design inspired by the comedy cult classic to celebrate the film's 30th anniversary, and of course, the upcoming release of Bill & Ted: Face the Music. The booth will be a real payphone that has been "retrofitted for VOIP/landline service" and equipped with USB chargers and a time travel antenna to complete the look. However, according to Cubicall's website, "due to retrofitting of the payphone, booths cannot travel time."
"As life-long fans of the movies, we're really excited to bring this piece of movie history to life in time for Bill and Ted 3," said Anthony Pucci, co-founder of Cubicall. "Not only will the booth feature the same great benefits of Cubicall phone booths, but we have some fun throwbacks planned like a retro-fitted pay phone."
Interested buyers can head over to Cubicall's site to pre-order the telephone booth with shipping expected for the fall. Bill & Ted: Face the Music hits the big screen next summer and will see Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprising their roles.
In more entertainment news, Netflix renewed Ultraman for season 2.
Posted: 27 May 2019 09:01 AM PDT
Does it seem like your small business is spending a fortune on a phone system?
In the past getting the features you wanted pretty much required you deal with a major phone company. Now thankfully Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows you to get a sophisticated and highly capable phone system for a fraction of the price.
Today we're going to explore the top 5 reasons you should get a VoIP system for your company and the only reason you wouldn't want to.
1. Allows Anywhere Communications
One of the features of VoIP that always gets rave reviews is how easy it is to use. Because it's all digitally based you can easily set your virtual number to be answered from anywhere.
Your main phone in the office is just the beginning. Through an app or call forwarding set up you can have a single number that's answerable anywhere you find yourself.
If you've got salespersons or consultants out on the road it's easy to see how valuable this would be. Instead of having multiple numbers to reach them you can assign them a single number on several devices.
2. Lower Cost-Per-Call
The biggest initial benefit of a VoIP system is how much you can save per call. The very design of VoIP makes it far cheaper to use than a traditional copper wire landline system.
With traditional phone systems you were charged based on every call placed. After all, the phone company had to build out the infrastructure and maintain it solely for phone calls.
A VoIP company has none of those expenses. The calls are made using your existing internet system. This allows them to provide incredibly cheap and high quality phone service.
Most plans work either as pay-as-you go or on an unlimited basis. Many offer features like free domestic calling or a set list of free numbers you can call.
3. Incredibly Scalable
VoIP is the perfect phone system for businesses that are expecting to grow. Because a VoIP company doesn't have to physically install cables or wires you can pretty much expand your system as needed.
The only real limits are the existing bandwidth of your internet. Scalability doesn't just go one way either. For companies that have significant seasonal changes in demand a VoIP system gives you tons of flexibility.
You can upgrade your account during the busy season by adding on extra numbers and features. Once things begin to slow down you save money by reducing your service.
Try doing that with the phone company.
4. Flexible Conferencing Options
Running a conference call with a traditional phone plan was complicated and needlessly expensive. VoIP is all digital. That makes it extremely easy to add or remove participants with nothing but a laptop or other control.
This even includes full video conferences. Being able to see who you're talking to always makes things a bit more personal. With VoIP you can set up video conferences with any number of participants quickly and easily.
5. Integrates With Other Apps and Systems
For most businesses getting in touch with someone requires a little bit of juggling. You have to pull up their email address, search it in your contact list, and then finally make a call.
This doesn't take a ton of time but if you have to do it 30 or 40 times a day it adds up. VoIP systems allow you to integrate the apps you're already using with their services.
This makes it easy to jump from an email to a call and back.
6. Requires Solid Broadband Capacity
The only real downside to modern VoIP systems is their thirst for bandwidth. Unlike traditional landline systems they work entirely over your fiber optic or other cable connection.
If your office doesn't have the greatest bandwidth to begin with adding VoIP will only make it worse. A quality VoIP company will be able to do a few basic tests on your network and hard capabilities.
This will let you know if you can easily switch over to VoIP services.
See How Much You Could Save
The benefits and cost savings of a VoIP system far outweigh the sole downside. As long as you have quality high-speed internet at your place of business there's a good chance VoIP could save you time and money.
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