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VoIP Test: A Tool To Check Your Network Quality and Speed and a Guide to Why It Matters

This article was published on May 22, 2024

Good employee collaboration hinges on the quality of your VoIP connections. This is especially important in a hybrid working environment. Without a reliable network connection, your internal calls may be subject to grating technical difficulties, such as connection drops, unsettling echoes, and background interference. To avoid these problems, it’s important to test your network quality. This will help you to prepare for — or improve — your VoIP services, which will in turn enhance your employee collaboration.

Photo of an employee testing business VoIP call quality and network performance on a tablet.

What Is VoIP Testing?

VoIP tests assess your network reliability, speed, and quality, specifically in relation to calls. They work by simulating a VoIP connection and analyzing key network quality metrics. From the results, you can determine whether your phone calls will be high or low quality.

Many businesses conduct these tests before migrating to a VoIP phone service. It’s a surefire way to evaluate whether their networks can handle VoIP calls before they cut their traditional landline operations loose. That way, they can avoid costly last-minute network fixes.

That being said, it’s good practice to test your networks regularly even after you make the shift to a VoIP solution — especially if you encounter technical issues post-migration.

The number of networks you need to test will depend on several factors. If you’re using VoIP for small businesses, the likelihood is you’ll only have one office — and therefore one network — that requires testing. Larger businesses with dispersed offices will need to perform tests across their locations. And don’t forget, if you adopt a remote or hybrid working model, you may need to assess your employees’ home internet connections, too.

By testing connections at every possible touchpoint, you’ll be better able to provide a consistent, high-quality VoIP experience.

Performing a VoIP Speed or Quality Test: What Testing Tools Can Reveal and Why It Matters

The easiest way to test your VoIP connection is through a network quality tool. Many vendors will provide these online for free, allowing you to assess your technical compatibility before investing in their software.

Performing a test is as simple as downloading the software, inputting your region and company details, and waiting for the tool to conduct its analysis. Once complete, you can expect to receive information on the following network quality metrics:

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to your network’s capacity for sending and receiving data. It measures how much data you can transfer at any one time and is usually calculated on a per-second basis.

Simply put, the higher your bandwidth, the higher the quality of your calls.

Of course, it’s important to note that bandwidth is not a static measurement. It will vary depending on the number of employees using your network at any given time. The more online tasks you handle at once — whether it be calls, file downloads, or internet browsing — the lower your bandwidth results will be.

A VoIP bandwidth test will reveal the current volume of data you can expect to send and receive, whether it’s bits, kilobits, megabits, or gigabits. To get a clearer picture of your overall bandwidth demands, we recommend testing your network multiple times during peak and off-peak periods.

Using the results garnered from these tests, you can calculate an accurate average bandwidth. This will help you decide whether your business can handle a VoIP system or, if you’re already using one, whether you need to reboot, fix, or upgrade your network.

Jitter

When carrying out a call, a VoIP system translates your spoken words into digital signals. It then breaks these signals into data packets, which are uploaded and sent to the receiver. At the intended destination, the packets are reassembled into spoken words again.

In an ideal world, these data packets would arrive near-instantly, resulting in a smooth connection and crystal-clear audio. However, if your network connection is unstable, there will be delays in your data packet transmission.

We refer to this as jitter. If your systems have high jitter rates, you will experience increased latency and packet loss. To your employees, this will present as muffled voice transmissions, omitted audio, and awkward delays — all of which can cause needless irritation on both ends of the telephone.

A VoIP jitter test will reveal your jitter rate and flag whether you need to review or change your network settings. In many cases, a simple network reboot may be a sufficient fix.

Packet Loss

Sometimes, items get lost in transit, e.g., suitcases, letters, and the like. In the world of VoIP phone systems, it’s data that goes missing, and we call this packet loss.

Packet loss occurs when one or more data packets fail to reach the intended destination. This is often a result of:

  • bad cabling

  • over utilization of a network

  • inadequate packet prioritization

  • faulty hardware

  • circuit issues

Regardless of the reason, packet loss can severely impact your communications. It may result in as little as a lost word or two, or as much as a few sentences. In the case of the latter, your employees may miss out on important project information or instructions. This can hinder productivity and result in longer call-times, as well as lead to miscommunications.

A network quality testing tool will signal whether a VoIP call will result in high, low, or medium packet loss. It will then indicate whether you need to reboot or review your network equipment or settings.

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Latency

Latency measures the time between sending and receiving data signals. It is determined by the round-trip delay between when information leaves your systems and when you receive a response from the receiver. When these delays are long, it’s usually a result of network transmission delays, WAN or LAN congestion, or device issues.

Unlike jitter, latency doesn’t impact the voice quality but the time delivery. While you can still speak with your colleagues, you’ll lose the ability to speak in real time — a crucial expectation for any over-the-phone communication. This can negatively impact your ability to collaborate.

Upload and Download Speeds

Upload and download speeds refer to how fast your network can receive and send data packets. The higher your upload speed, the clearer the receiver will hear your voice. The higher your download speed, the clearer you will hear the receiver’s voice.

If your speeds are very slow, you’ll experience lag or muffled audio on one or both ends of the line.

A VoIP call quality test will reveal your exact upload and download speed. With these results, you can determine whether your employees and customers will or won’t be able to communicate seamlessly over an internet connection.

Quality of Service (QoS)

In today’s digital age, your workforce relies on a solid internet connection for many of their everyday tasks. Of course, all of this internet usage adds up. As more users log on to your network — often at the same time — the more strain you will put on your internet connections.

As we have already established, low bandwidth can seriously affect call quality. So, to ensure other less-critical tasks don’t steal all of the bandwidth, you’ll need to test your business’s quality of service (QoS).

This measures your router’s packet prioritization — in other words, what data usage it prioritizes over others, whether it be internet browsing or file downloading. To ensure your VoIP data is at the top of the list, you’ll have to actively change the QoS settings so that it favors your VoIP transmissions.

Firewalls

Firewalls monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. They’re an essential security protocol, built to protect your network environment from malicious threats. However, if you don’t configure these firewalls correctly, they may impact the flow of your VoIP call transmissions.

If your firewall ports do not open appropriately, they will block your voice traffic. This can result in audio problems, such as no-way audio or one-way audio. An online VoIP test can determine whether your firewall security policies will hinder audio transmission. Your technical teams can then adjust the settings to ensure data flows through seamlessly and securely.

Why VoIP Quality Testing Matters

Although alternate communication methods, such as online chatbots and email, seem to be increasing in popularity, there’s no replacement for the trusty phone call. Real-time, spoken communications are still incredibly important to businesses and customers alike.

In fact, 33% of businesses and service providers expect to increase the number of mobile phone calls they conduct within the next year, according to Vonage’s 2024 Global Customer Engagement Report.

To prepare for this boom, it’s important to evaluate your network quality. Why? Because, without a reliable network connection, you may suffer from:

  • Reduced call capacity — Without enough bandwidth to go around, your teams will have to reduce the number of calls they can conduct at any given time.

  • Call quality issues — Problems with data transmission can result in muffled voices, echoing, delays, and fragmented conversations.

If left unresolved, these challenges will snowball. With limited call capacity, your employees will be unable to communicate with their dispersed colleagues freely. More than this, low-quality calls or consistent connectivity issues will frustrate your customers — particularly those looking to resolve a problem or ask for advice. For your internal communications, these audio troubles can result in miscommunications, inefficiencies, and impeded collaboration.

When you consider that 74% of customers are likely to take their business elsewhere after one poor interaction, it’s clear that your business can’t afford to ignore these issues.

In other words: Every experience matters, so make sure every phone call counts.

This is what makes VoIP testing so crucial. By testing your network performance, you can pinpoint connectivity issues and resolve them before they impede your employee and customer experiences. Sometimes, this is simply a case of rebooting your network or tweaking your settings. For more extreme cases, you may have to upgrade your internet services or switch to another provider.

Perform a VoIP Network Test To Make the Most of Your Business Communications

By now, we’re sure you’re keen to test your VoIP call quality. You’ll be pleased to hear that the test is easy to complete! Simply visit Vonage’s Network Quality Tool page and follow the instructions in our quick guide. After downloading the testing tool and filling in your details, you’ll receive a full network quality report, listing your results. The tool will flag any causes for concern, helping you to prioritize your next steps.

The result? You can better optimize your network — either in preparation for adopting a VoIP system or improving your current Vonage solution.

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