VoIP Spear Blog: News & Noise
May 17, 2010

New codecs!

VoIP Spear has always included the ability to calculate MOS using the big three codecs of VoIP: G.711, G.723, and G.729. We've recently added support for GSM, G.722, Speex, and iLBC.

VoIP Spear uses the E-Model of computation for estimating MOS from network statistics like packet loss, latency, and jitter. In order to complete the E-model calculations, we need to know some characteristics about each codec. For example, how much does the codec itself degrade voice quality. Another characteristic would be: how does the codec perform under packet loss conditions.

For G.711, G.723, and G.729, it's very easy to find this information because these codecs have been studied a great deal. This isn't the case for Speex and iLBC. It's hard to find information because they are newer codecs and weren't developed by the ITU. As a result, there haven't been many studies that look at these codecs in the context of the E-Model. Nevertheless, we managed to track down a few papers here and there. We're confident our MOS calculations for Speex and iLBC are accurate.

Calculating MOS from G.722 is a different situation altogether. G.722 is a family of codecs (G.722.1, G.722.2) that is available at several different bit rates. In fact, quality is greatly affected by the bit rate that is used. We didn't want to include all of these bit rates because we want VoIP Spear to be easy to use. Also, some of the other codecs (G.723, iLBC) also provide different options for bit rates so we wanted to be consistent.

In the end, the compromise we arrived at was to assume that G.722 is used at 64kbps. Without any impairments caused by the network, this will provide quality better than even G.711.

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Sep 21, 2009

More Signs VoIP is Hitting the Main Stream

It's not news that VoIP is becoming more and more mainstream all the time, but it sometimes amazes me how far it's come. I first started up a VoIP company about 9 years ago and VoIP was so far out on the fringes that we would never use that term when speaking to customers.

Today, I came across a blog posting about potential uses for VoIP in a physician's medical practice. Seven Great Applications for IP-PBXs in the Medical Practice is a quick read and worth a few minutes of your time. For me, the most interesting takeaway from the article is that it confirms how far into the mainstream VoIP is when there's articles discussing its uses for such a narrow vertical.

And as VoIP use increases and becomes more commonplace, there will be an increased need for our VoIP Spear monitoring service.

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Jul 30, 2009

The Internet is wonderful

My family and I are on holiday in Croatia right now. We're staying in a bungalow on the Adriatic Sea in a little town called Brodarica and it's been very hot (35°C or 95°F). As I type this, I'm looking onto a peaceful morning on the Mediterranean. There's boats sailing by, children playing in the sea, and I can hear all sorts of sounds from birds and insects in the trees.

This morning, I logged into my VoIP Spear account to check how things have been going. There was a bunch of new signups, and a couple of new paid subscriptions since yesterday. I'm happy. In fact, I'm more than happy. I'm ecstatic. I'm able to keep tabs on my world (email, VoIP Spear) from the comfort of this other world.

Life is good.

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Mar 7, 2009

"North America: North" Server Replaced

Just a quick posting to tell you that we've replaced our "North America: North" server. It's been giving us problems of late so we decided the best solution was to retire it. The new server is on the East Coast and we're pretty happy about that -- we now have servers on the West Coast, East Coast, and in the middle of North America.

It was a performance issue that finally caused us to make this decision. It had degrading to the point where the results from our VoIP testing was compromised. We found ourselves spending time diagnosing the issues and making little changes here and there to work around the problems. In the end, we're happy to rid ourselves of that headache.

We have automatically updated all VoIP tests to use the East server if they were using the North server previously.

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Feb 28, 2009

Up to 20% Discount When You Pre-pay Your Subscription to VoIP Spear

We're now offering pricing discounts for customers who pre-pay for multiple months. We've been planing this for a while but it wasn't until recently that we actually had the time to implement it.

Take a look at the discounts below. We wanted to get pretty aggressive with the discount on 1 year plans and I think we've succeeded.

  • 3 months: 5% discount
  • 6 months: 10% discount
  • 12 months: 20% discount

The savings can be quite substantial. For example, if you are on the Bronze plan and you pre-pay for 1 year, your savings will be $60.00!

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