VoIP Spear Blog: News & Noise
Feb 25, 2021

What is VoIP Spear?

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 Problem

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.

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Jan 9, 2021

VoIP Spear Featured on thevoipresources.com

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.

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Dec 1, 2020

Dealing with Holiday VoIP Traffic

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.

Monitor Your VoIP Server

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.

VoIP Equipment Matters

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.

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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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