I just finished reading a blog post titled "VoIP Spear: Monitoring and Cutting To the Heart of Your VoIP Problems" by Innovation Sask. It provides a great overview of VoIP Spear.
It's so nice to see a write up about VoIP Spear that makes it easy to understand what we do. VoIP Spear, at its core, is very technical and this means it's important to clearly explain what it is and how it works. Our last blog post was titled "What is VoIP Spear?" for this very reason.
Customers shouldn't need to be hardcore geeks in order to understand how VoIP Spear can benefit them. This is ultimately why we started VoIP Spear in the first place -- to provide an easier and more accessible way to do VoIP quality monitoring.
Innovation Sask's post also mentions our new Sentries. These are small hardware devices, about the size of a computer mouse, that monitor the quality of your internet connection 24x7x365. They essentially do the same thing as VoIP Spear's all-software solution, except that they're hardware devices you install onto your network. The Sentries provide an advantage in that they are able to monitor from inside your network so they have more visibility to certain classes of problems. The Sentries are small and easy to install, requiring only an internet connection and power.
I'd like to thanks the folks at Innovation Sask for highlighting VoIP Spear. It's a real honour.
VoIP Spear is a web service that assists when you’re having voice quality issues on your phone calls. We monitor your internet connection and track the reasons your problems occurred.
VoIP Spear has been operating for more than 12 years and has helped tens of thousands of users with their voice quality issues.
The internet is a packet-based network system, meaning that it splits data up into thousands of small chunks called packets. Most of the time, the internet performs well and the packets reach their destination properly, however sometimes that isn’t the case.
Services like email and web traffic have mechanisms to deal with imperfections with the internet connection. Unfortunately, voice calls are extremely sensitive to these issues and this is what causes your frustration.
A while back, I noticed a nice little feature about VoIP Spear at VoIP Resources. It's flattering to see a positive review like this.
We're especially pleased that the author of the article really seems to get VoIP Spear. She starts off by describing VoIP QoS problems at a high level. When VoIP Spear is introduced as a tool, the article mentions that one advantage is that it is "no-client side". This is a subtle point that is easy to overlook -- there's no software to install. You can just enter your IP address into the VoIP Spear web site and it will start its monitoring.
The article also mentions that you can view your VoIP QoS results in a chart or table format, and that there are several options with regards to our account packages. About the only the article gets wrong is when it mentions that VoIP Spear servers run tests to the endpoints every 5 minutes. In fact, our servers monitor the endpoints every 1 minute.
In any case, thanks for the great article, Lauren.
Thanksgiving might be over but there's still Christmas and New Year's Eve coming. Valentine's Day is also not too far off. There will be a lot of voice traffic in the next few months. You have to be prepared for this. You need to stay accessible with good quality VoIP service; and there are things you can do on your end to ensure this.
The first thing to do is to use a VoIP monitoring service, such as VoIP Spear. It is actually best to not wait for periods when you expect voice call traffic. Setting up an account with VoIP Spear ensures that you're on top of your VoIP's performance. You will know right away if there are problems with your service. During high voice traffic season, such as Christmas and New Year's, this becomes crucial.
Sometimes, the problem lies in your setup, not in your VoIP service provider. Many hardware technicians say that the proximity of your VoIP equipment with each other can result in some audio problems, such as feedback. So, to easily curb this, set up your equipment as far apart as possible.
Oftentimes, I hear people mention bandwidth when speaking about VoIP QoS (Quality of Service). There seems to a common misconception that bandwidth is the key factor in determining the quality of voice over a network. In reality, this is not true. It's of course important to have enough bandwidth for your VoIP needs, but there are other important qualities of your Internet connection that affect VoIP QoS -- packet loss, latency, and jitter.
The Internet works by breaking up all data into small groups called packets. Occasionally, some of these packets are lost in the network and don't reach the far-end. This is called packet loss and results in degradation to the quality of your phone call. Ideally, you would want packet loss to be 0% (or at least under 1%), however it's possible for you to experience acceptable VoIP quality with packet loss as high as 5%.
Latency is the amount of time it takes data packets to travel through travel through the network. For most calls in North America, latency is very low (less than 100-150ms even on the public Internet). This is excellent and makes for good quality calls. On the other hand, calls to overseas numbers may have latency in the 250-350ms range or sometimes higher. At these levels of latency, the quality of the call is affected. The callers will start to notice the delay. Fortunately, most overseas callers have been conditioned to expect this type of delay and are comfortable with it.
Jitter is the variation in the inter-arrival time between packets. In other words, jitter is the consistency of the network -- is it consistently feeding packets to the far-end? Jitter of less than 20ms is usually expected for good quality connections. When jitter is high, it means that some packets have higher latency than others. This may cause the packets to arrive too late and be discarded by the other nd of your phone call.
At VoIP Spear, we monitor packet loss, latency, and jitter in order produce the most accurate QoS score we can. Try our Personal plan today. It's free to use and we know you'll find it useful.