How to Make Your Network VoIP-Ready

Many small and medium-sized businesses have already made the switch to VoIP. They found the cost savings and effectiveness of the technology far outweighed the cost of transition. However, ensuring high-quality communication required them to take a hard look at their existing networks.

Here we highlight some of the network components that are critical in delivering good-quality communication.

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Internet Connection

In order to plan for internet access, start by calculating how many VoIP calls will be running concurrently – this may peak at particular times of the day. Also consider the other applications that are competing for bandwidth. This could be email, business systems, file transfers and staff personal use (if allowed).

Network Hardware

What is the company policy on network hardware renewal? Large enterprises may purchase hardware as a capital expense, and budget to renew them after, say, four years. While this may seem to be a high cost to smaller companies, bear in mind that performance and reliability are improving very quickly. Enabling your staff to communicate effectively means that your network is a critical dependency.

Assess the DHCP server (which allocates network IPs), switches, routers and cabling. Also check the proxy server, as recommended by the BCS here

Traffic Prioritisation

There will be multiple consumers competing for bandwidth and priority. For example, transferring a large binary file may demand a huge chunk of bandwidth, but a successful transfer is not necessarily time dependent. However, a VoIP call to a customer which hangs or becomes inaudible is embarrassing and demotivates your staff.

Quality of Service (QoS)

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Plan to invest in a modern router with Quality of Server (QoS) capability and a smart switch. Making use of a Virtual LAN with a dedicated DHCP range will allow you to choose the relative priority for competing consumers.

QoS (although with a different meaning) is also a differentiator when choosing an international VoIP wholesale provider, such as

Power over Ethernet

Handsets and other modern telephony equipment are powered through the network cabling, also known as PoE. Check the power required for your devices and consider PoE+, which supplies more power for more sophisticated devices such as video displays.

In summary, moving to VoIP has the potential for major cost savings and productivity improvements. Your network is a key foundation to a successful VoIP implementation.

The author is an expert on occupational training and a prolific writer who writes extensively on Business, technology, and education. He can be contacted for professional advice in matters related with occupation and training on his blog Communal Business and Your Business Magazine.