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Preparing Your Network for a VoIP System

|  3 min
In this article

You’ve made the decision to move with the times and switch your organisation to a VoIP system. So what do you need to do to next and how do you prepare for the move?

Finding the right VoIP provider

The key things to look out for/consider in selecting a VoIP provider are:

  • Price/cost – whilst a very important factor to businesses, price should never be the sole driver. Today’s competitive marketplace means that price differences are getting smaller anyway. Rather than pure cost, it is value for money that should be the focus.
  • Service – clearly you will require a high quality and reliable service.
  • Customer support – your provider should have a knowledgeable customer service team that is available 24/7.
  • Extra features – many providers include features such as call forwarding, conference calling, and caller ID at no extra cost.

Once you have chosen a provider, one of the first steps is to prepare your network so that it’s ready for the new system. The following steps are important:

1. Evaluate your WAN connection.

It’s vital to allocate the correct amount of bandwidth to VoIP to ensure optimal results are obtained. This means understanding what bandwidth you need. Requirements depend mostly on the number of VoIP clients (phones), together with the number of concurrent calls you want to be able to make. You can determine your bandwidth by running tests on a website such as Speedtest.

When it comes to connection – DSL is a thing of the past. A fibre T1 line or a coax cable connection is significantly faster. The faster the internet connection used with a VoIP system, the better the call quality will be.

Today’s most commonly offered internet speed options for business are 75, 100, and 150Mbps. 75Mbps should be adequate for businesses requiring 20 connections or less. For businesses with more than 20 connections, choosing 150Mbps will give greater reliability as well as reducing the burden of the VoIP service on the network infrastructure.

2. Assess your network infrastructure/look to replace outdated equipment

To guarantee the optimal results from VoIP, you will need more than just fast internet access; your core network infrastructure is also important. Outdated network infrastructures are one of the main barriers to VoIP success.

If some of your equipment is ageing, it may well be worth looking at upgrading the parts of the infrastructure that are key to the network performance, such as the routing and switching equipment. If you do decide to replace any equipment, it is worth paying for decent branded products for reliability, longevity and to ensure good call quality. Network segmentation originates at the router, so it is worth investing in a high-quality router with QoS features.

3. Power

Power over Ethernet (PoE) was a specific technology initially built for use with VoIP devices. In essence, PoE allows power to be provided to a device via the same cable that is supplying the data/voice. This enables efficient power provision for all PoE-enabled devices, such as VoIP phone systems. Because a PoE VoIP system relies on power from a network switch, when there is a power-cut, VoIP will not work. However, this is easily remedied with UPS backup power.

Most switches offer PoE, but only a few manufacturers now build PoE+ into their switches. So what is the difference? A standard PoE switch can handle a maximum load of 15.4 watts, whereas PoE+ switches are able to offer up to 30 watts per port. Certain VoIP phones need more power, especially those with cameras or video displays.

So how much power do you actually need? The power consumed by phones/other devices in your office needs to be less than the switch budget, so you should check the maximum power wattage that your phones etc. require and compare that to the minimum power budget of the switch. Plan for the future by opting for a switch with more ports and a bigger PoE budget so that you can add more devices when required.

4. VLAN to prioritise and segment VoIP traffic

When it comes to VoIP, the best quality of service (QoS) comes from having dedicated bandwidth for voice data. This can be achieved by segmenting the network using a virtual local area network (VLAN). VLANs are able to give priority to applications that are most sensitive to network delays (such as VoIP).

Voice termination and VoIP

IDT offers bespoke systems to suit individual client needs. We have over 25 years’ experience in telecoms, and now offer coverage in over 45 countries across the globe, together with 24/7 network support. Why not check out our website today to see how we can help?

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