Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become a popular communications solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. There are so many providers and services to choose from, but how do you pick the right one? One crucial factor you should look into is a vendor’s Quality of Service, or QoS.
What is QoS?
VoIP providers and IT experts define “Quality of Service” as the overall performance of a VoIP system or network. This performance is usually measured by looking at objective statistics like bandwidth use, transmission (call) delay, error rates, etc. Subjective data, like what the end users think of the system’s performance, are also factored in.
Why does QoS vary from provider to provider?
QoS does not just apply to VoIP, but also to traditional phone systems. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the quality of landline calls are near perfect. This is because all traditional phone network providers invested in physical networks and connections that offer high QoS. That means switching from one provider to another doesn't affect the quality of the calls.
But investments in physical networks were expensive, and customers ended up shouldering the costs. The high cost of maintaining the transmission network (phone lines, switches, etc.) is also why there are only a couple of phone providers in your area. In other words, it's just too costly for small companies to launch a traditional phone network system.
In comparison, VoIP systems are a lot cheaper to set up and maintain. This has led to a high number of VoIP providers. And because anyone with capital can set up their VoIP systems without having to adhere to a standard, the QoS amongst providers can vary drastically. To find the provider with the best QoS, ask them these three questions:
- How much of the network infrastructure do you own?
Almost every VoIP provider will rely on public infrastructure in order to transmit data. The rule of thumb is, the bigger the company’s share in the infrastructure, the higher its QoS is. This is because the provider will have more control over the technology.
One of the best options is to look for facilities-based providers. These companies own almost all of the network that carries VoIP calls and can therefore offer better services and quality.
- How much traffic will run over public internet?
The answer to this will vary among providers. Some of the most popular solutions like Vonage will use almost 100% public internet for their traffic. Other companies will use a mixture of public and private networks, often using public internet for more affordable packages and private internet for high-end users. If you often use VoIP for functions that require heavy bandwidth like conference calling, then you may need to sign up for more expensive packages so the QoS doesn’t drop.
- What level of quality can you guarantee?
Good providers will be able to guarantee a QoS that is comparable, or even better, than traditional phone networks. This is especially important for businesses that are looking to switch to a full VoIP solution. Ask your prospective provider to run a few tests on your network and to give you a quality assurance. If the numbers are too low for your business needs, look for another provider.
Do you want to know more about how to pick the best VoIP provider and how VoIP can benefit your business? Get in touch with our experts today.