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Myth Versus Reality: Hosted Voice QoS Demystified

Posted By Mike Gruszka
October 19, 2011

At the end of the day, businesses simply want to have the confidence to make phone calls.

However, I still hear the same questions from all types of businesses considering hosted voice — will the calls my business makes truly be the same? Do traditional phone services and voice over internet solutions offer equal quality? What about latency? Dropped calls or bandwidth requirements?

From experience I say unequivocally that hosted voice services can be conducted just like traditional phone calls with the same high quality of service level and deliver sophisticated features previously thought unattainable to most small and medium-sized businesses.

But, in talking to business owners, you’d think this was still a “pipe dream.” Given that more companies are exploring business VoIP services for their voice-communications needs, it’s important to make distinctions between myth and reality:

Myth #1: If I want to have a “real” phone call, I need to go back to the traditional model.

Reality: Not at all. The hosted experience doesn’t have to be like it was several years ago, when phone customers lowered expectations in the spirit of early adoption and service-cost reductions. Sure, choppy and/or dropped calls were once considered “business as usual” for some VoIP providers. But not all VoIP companies are alike.

The problem is that many of the “usual suspects” out there still run VoIP over a myriad of networks that they don’t own and, therefore, don’t control. That’s when issues with Quality of Service (QoS) [PDF] emerge, and these situations tend to cast an undeserved cloud over the entire industry. But at MegaPath, we’ve opted for a model in which we own and oversee our dedicated IP network to deliver Voice Quality (VQ) technology that prioritizes voice packets over data. This technology is supported by an Application Layer Gateway (ALG) that manages traffic flow from the customer to the network, so voice traffic receives the highest priority through the LAN router.

OK, so what does that mean to the customer? It means the sales team’s calls won’t get jammed up because, say, the guys in accounting are emailing a huge packet of financial data. The ALG ensures that voice goes to the “front of the line.” Therefore, there are no dropped calls, and conversations sound as crisp and fluid as the ones you have with friends over a cup of coffee.

Myth #2: If you want to avoid quality issues, you gotta throw a ton of money into more bandwidth.

Reality: Why would you do that? Again, this may be the case with a number of providers out there. But if you’re working “smarter,” then the “harder” option of spending lots of money for bandwidth shouldn’t enter the equation.

“Smarter” means your packet flow is getting prioritized so all of the traffic isn’t competing for a limited amount of bandwidth. At the time when voice calls are essential – typically during the day, when you need to contact clients and attend conference calls – that’s when it’s time to throttle back on the data exchange. Then, after hours, you open up the bandwidth to more data and less voice.

All of which translates into savings for the customer. Because you shouldn’t have to spend a lot to make sure your phone system helps you get business done as opposed to getting in the way.

Question of the week: What kind of business advantages do you gain from VoIP?

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