VoIP Spear Blog: News & Noise
Jul 30, 2020

How to Measure VoIP QoS

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.

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Dec 16, 2019

ICMP vs UDP

VoIP Spear servers work by pinging our users' endpoints. Ping is a nearly ubiquitous network tool that is used to test whether or not a computer/device is reachable across the Internet.

One problem with using ping is that ping uses the ICMP protocol while VoIP uses UDP. It was for this reason that we used UDP for testing when we first started developing VoIP Spear. We were aiming to support two types of testing -- basic testing would use ping/ICMP and advanced testing would use UDP. We envisioned that basic testing would be perfect for novice users because it's so easy to set up while advanced testing, on the other hand, would be more accurate and perfect for our advanced users.

After a few months, we realized two things:

  1. Advanced testing would require users to run a VoIP Spear software app (which we called a UDP mirror because it just bounced back UDP packets to our servers). This requirement would mean that our advanced tests could only be run on computers capable of running the software, thus excluding many VoIP phones and other endpoints. In addition, the requirement to run/install software would have meant much lower adoption rates because it's a pain to install software (especially software like the UDP mirror which needs to be running all the time on users' computers).
  2. The results from our basic tests (using ICMP/ping) were just as accurate as the UDP tests.

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Nov 25, 2019

Hosted VoIP to Take Off Now that "Telephony is Dead"

I just finished reading an interesting rebuttal to the comments by the ConnectWise CEO that "Telephony is dead."

George Bellini, the author of the post, counters:

...telephony is THRIVING and no time is better than the present to offer your customers the answer that you have chosen to provide and add value by being a single source technology provider.

I have to agree with Bellini. Telephone is alive and well. It's merely just a subset of telephony, the on-premise PBX market, that is suffering. Bellini wrote a post about this a few months back.

The strengthening of the hosted PBX market is good news for VoIP Spear. As PBX's move off the network the phones are on, it becomes increasingly important for firms to monitor the connection between PBX and phones.

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Jul 30, 2019

Outsourcing Your VoIP Infrastructure

Cloud-hosted service is not just a buzzword. The industry has taken hold of enough of its market such that it can make all the noise it wants. It is something that is here to stay.

The mindset that moves it forward is the increasing openness to outsourcing. The premium given to exclusivity and internality is long gone. After all, why insist on being exclusive and internal when what you have isn't the most optimal system for your needs?

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Oct 7, 2016

VoIP Spear Monitors Every Minute of the Day

VoIP Spear is now monitoring your endpoints every minute of the day, rather than once every five minutes like it used to.

We made this change last week. It's probably the most impactful update since VoIP Spear went global in 2014.

Over the coming weeks, we intend to bring more new features to VoIP Spear. Here is a list below.

  • Report Card: An all new, easy way to grade your VoIP quality
  • New charts and reports
  • More controls over the existing charts and reports

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