VoIP Phone Networking — Avoid the Traffic Jam

VoIP phone networking is a lot like an interstate highway; they both carry traffic -- one vehicular and the other digital.

A poorly designed LAN can cause time-consuming traffic like this on your phone system. 

Did you ever find yourself sitting in bumper to bumper traffic wondering what the person who designed it was thinking?  There are vehicles crawling as far as the eye can see in every direction, and there’s no visible cause — no road work, no accident, nothing!  Did anyone think about volume, growth, connectors, rush hour potential, or other hazards that could cause such a traffic jam? This is the role of effective VoIP phone networking.

A poorly planned and designed interstate highway can be a total nightmare causing thousands of people to waste valuable time.  A poorly designed LAN can cause the same for your business.  Don’t make the same mistakes as the highway designer.

No matter which provider’s Hosted PBX you select, or even if you opt for premise-based IP-PBX solution, your local area network (LAN) is an important consideration, the performance of your phone system depends on it.

Think of your LAN as a roadway and your voice and data transmission as the vehicles traveling that roadway:

  • Are there enough travel lanes for the traffic to move without jamming up?
  • If there’s some issue that stops traffic, is there a detour?
  • Are there areas that can be designed to avoid bottlenecks?
  • Does the roadway have issues that will slow traffic over time?

Let’s first consider the traffic:

  • How many users or total phones are there
  • How many calls are likely to happen simultaneously
  • How much additional data transfer (file upload and download) is happening

Think of bandwidth as the ideal number of lanes your road will need:

  • A single user who uses a VoIP phone, cloud based applications and does some file sharing could require between 1 and 5 mbps at any given time.
  • That same user who adds video conferencing and high volume file sharing would need up to 6 mbps.

These user types are very basic examples to illustrate a simple method to determine how much bandwidth you’ll need for your VoIP phone networking . Based on the number of staff and the tasks they do, your VoIP provider or IT consultant can help you assess the optimum total bandwidth required to keep your staff working and connected seamlessly.

Make sure you have that detour available:
Regardless of how many users and how much bandwidth is needed, full redundancy is always necessary. Network redundancy is the alternate connection or ‘detour’ that will keep your business traffic moving if there’s a major stoppage on the main road.

Bottlenecks:
Once you determine the amount of bandwidth you need, it’s important to avoid bottlenecks at heavy traffic times.

  • The router that disburses your Internet signal needs to be the right capacity to keep the traffic flowing. We all despise the backup at a 2-lane toll plaza serving an eight lane superhighway, the wrong router could do the same thing to your business traffic.
  • In your office, a network of cables and switches — much like the interchanges where one roadway intersects with another – is the backbone that connects your staff to each other and the outside world. Employing substandard cables and outdated switches is similar to a single lane highway interchange being fed by 8 lanes of traffic; it’s a recipe for a bottleneck that will slow your communication and data traffic to a crawl. Make sure the cabling and associated switches are sized appropriately for your traffic.

Reassess your traffic patterns:
VoIP phone networking isn’t just about basic connectivity. Even with optimal bandwidth and the right modem, cables and switches, you might still see bottlenecks in traffic at certain busy times of the day. If that occurs, with an IT consultant or your VoIP provider’s assistance, a well-designed network can be reconfigured to help alleviate that congestion. You can’t do that with an interstate.

Keep an eye out for potholes:
Lastly, like any roadway system, your network requires maintenance. While potholes on roadways are easily detected, and hopefully repaired in a timely manner, Jitter  and other issues that hinder network traffic may not be as obvious. Getting your network tested by your VoIP provider or an IT consultant will insure that hidden network issues are detected and mitigated.

Not Feeling Like a VoIP Phone Networking Expert Yet?

You don’t need to be, You just need to know the questions to ask. While sadly, we can’t fix the interstate highway system, you can be sure that OTELCO has the staff and the knowledge to keep your voice and data traffic moving at the speed you need.

Check Out Our Guide to Business Phone Systems