VOIP is where you make phone calls over your Internet connection. VOIP can be good as it is a lot cheaper especially for STD and International calls. The problem is it can be hard to get VOIP working properly. If you are on the phone and the person at the other end is ‘chopping’ in and out, it may be that you or they have a bad VOIP connection. An added problem is that with a mobile phone it drops the call if the quality gets too bad but with a VOIP connection it tries to keep going – so the person at the other end may be talking away, blissfully unaware that you cannot hear them.
Even though I am fairly good with audio and computers I have gone back to having a regular phone line simply because even at best quality VOIP calls on a broadband connection don’t match the quality of a land-line phone or even a mobile phone, at least in Australia.
If you do have a VOIP connection, here are some tips.
What you need.
1. BROADBAND INTERNET
For VIOP to work well you need broadband with at least 128Kbps UPLOAD speed.
Eg 512/128 is too SLOW.
1500/256 is GOOD.
1500/512 is EXCELLENT.
The main danger is that internet plans generally have faster download speeds then upload. (Eg if you have a 8000/512 connection that means 8000 download and 512 upload.) This means that you might hear the other person properly, but they can’t’ hear you well. Therefore the main thing to check when you get a VOIP connection is that the person on the on the other end can hear you clearly.
2. FAST INTERNET
Secondly you also need an Internet connection with low ping time. Ping time is how long it takes for the smallest piece of data to go from your computer to the Internet or the other way. Download speed measures how fast lots of data can come, it’s the equivalent of how much water is flowing down a river. Ping time is closer to how fast a boat will float down the river. It’s possible to have a wide river that’s flowing slowly, in other words it possible to have a big download speed but slow ping time, and this is the case with satellite connections. This is why you can have a reasonable sized plan on satellite connection but VOIP still doesn’t work well.
3. A GOOD PHONE ADAPTER.
YOU NEED A PHONE TO INTERNET ADAPTER, called an ATA. (Otherwise You’ll have to have your computer turned on all the time and use a program like skype)
The ATA plugs into your ethernet router or may even be included in it, and then your normal phone into it.
You can spend lots of time looking for a good one, but the SPA3102 I use is pretty good, it plugs into the phone line as well so that if your internet is not working (eg in a blackout) you can still call out via your normal phone line.
4. A GOOD VOIP PROVIDER
Engin is very popular, but like Telstra, popular doesn’t mean the best deal.
I tried 4 or 5 for a month, and now I use pennytell, 2c per minute calls, 13c per minute to mobiles.
Also you need to pick a good codec, this is a bit tricky. Make sure whoever you buy the SPA3102 from can help you set it up.
5. GOOD CODEC SETTINGS
Talk to your VOIP provider about this.
I’ve found G726-32 is good.
G711 may be better quality theoretically but breaks up too much when the line speed drops.
G723a. I think may be good too.
I read this somewhere…
“The most commonly used mode G726-32 , since this is half the rate of G.711, thus increasing the usable network capacity by 50%. It is primarily used on international trunks in the phone network. It also is the standard codec used in DECT wireless phone systems.”
6. QoS on your Router
Another problem is that the VOIP connection may work fine, but when you download or browse the Internet it gets choppy. To avoid this you need a feature on your Internet router called QoS which stands for quality of service. What this does is gives priority to your phone calls. This means that a phone call can interrupt a webpage being loaded, but a webpage won’t interrupt a phone call. If you don’t have QoS the router will try to let the phone call and the webpage through and the phone call will become “choppy”.