Quality of Service (QoS) is a very important telecom industry term that every Voice over IP (VoIP) customer should know. QoS defines the overall performance of a telephony network, specifically the level of performance experienced by cloud phone system users. When you purchase a voice service, you probably assume the expectation of crystal-clear call quality is a given. But that’s not the case, and here’s why.
Typically, a vendor will not guarantee QoS with its internet phone services when it does not provide the underlying broadband circuit. When a provider delivers the voice circuit without the data circuit, it’s referred to as “over-the-top”, meaning it’s delivered over another provider’s broadband circuit. In these cases, the service provider typically does not provide any QoS guarantees. Instead, VoIP is delivered as a best-effort solution. This is because QoS is reliant upon if and how the voice traffic is prioritized across the underlying data network.
If an internet phone service provider doesn’t have control over the circuit, then they cannot guarantee the prioritization of the voice traffic that rides over it. For example, the other provider’s network may not recognize and prioritize the voice packets being transmitted. As a result, those packets could get lumped into a generic classification of treatment, therefore abandoning any semblance of QoS prioritization. That’s when the jittery, choppy and echoing calls occur. And since the network prioritization is out of the voice service provider’s hands, they cannot guarantee voice QoS. Because a company’s voice call quality is critical to their business, it is imperative that a prospective hosted VoIP customer understands the importance of QoS, and whether the service they plan to implement has any QoS guarantees.
At MegaPath, we offer both over-the-top hosted PBX services and fully integrated voice and data solutions. MegaPath’s voice network achieves 99.999% availability, providing customers with the highest level of reliability in the industry. When our voice services are delivered over a MegaPath-provided circuit, we can ensure that QoS standards are maintained from end to end, because we control traffic on our own private, nationwide IP data network. This allows MegaPath to maintain QoS guarantees in a way that is not possible from most providers. This is because when MegaPath provides access with voice, two things happen to manage QoS. First, all voice packets are tagged core-to-edge with priority across the network. Second, at the LAN, the Edgemarc customer premises equipment is configured to tag packets in the upstream with separate queues where voice is given priority over other data.
For true business-class performance, Business VoIP services should always be delivered over a fully-redundant, carrier-class network designed for high-availability and reliability. To be clear, business-class performance is totally achievable with an “over-the-top” HD voice service, as long as the broadband circuit has both the required bandwidth to support the volume of network traffic, as well as the ability to give the voice traffic priority over other data from end to end. However, while business-class performance is totally achievable, it’s important to realize that over-the-top services are still best-effort and do not come with any QoS guarantees.
When researching providers, look for the following:
Before making a purchase decision, understand if your voice service provider offers QoS guarantees, and if so, how they manage QoS across their network. If you plan to implement voice over an existing circuit managed by another service provider, make sure that the circuit you have is suitable for the voice and other data traffic you will have over your network and that voice traffic is prioritized. Beyond that, compare the features available to your employees and the post-sales support you’ll receive. All of these factors combine to deliver the best possible user experience. For more information on MegaPath’s Voice service, contact us today.