If you’re considering VoIP phone service for your business, it’s important to test your connection to see if and how many phone lines you can handle without impacting sound quality. Using the free VoIP speed test below you can find your bandwidth and latency, and we’ll explain exactly what this means for your VoIP capabilities.
VoIP Speed Test:
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How Many Phones Can Your Internet Connection Reasonably Support?
Bandwidth (Upload Speed)
Approximate Number of Lines
What do the VoIP Speed Test numbers mean?
- Upload Speed – The upload speed which is shown in the upper right hand corner of the above test shows the upload capability of your connection, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Because this number is typically lower than your download speed, this reflects the actual bandwidth available to your computer. As long as the number is above 3 Mbps, you should safe for up to 3 VoIP phone lines.
- Download Speed – Shown in the upper left hand corner of the VoIP speed test shows the download capability of your connection. It’s the maximum amount of data your connection can receive, measured in megabits per second (Mbps). As long as your upload speed is lower than your download speed, you can ignore this number. In the rare case where this number is higher, then this is your actual bandwidth.
- Ping – the amount of time it takes for your computer to communicate with a server. On a VoIP phone call, this constitutes the latency (or delay) between you and person you’re speaking with. Small delays aren’t noticeable, so as long as this number is below 100ms, you should be good to go.
How much bandwidth do I need?
Bandwidth is maximum rate at which your network can transfer data. It’s one of the key factors in the VoIP speed test since it determines how many concurrent phone calls your connection can handle.
Bandwidth is measured by your download and upload speed – the rate information travels to and from your computer. Whichever number is lower is your bandwidth. Because most consumers download much more than they upload, most internet service providers (ISPs) design the network to allow faster downloads than uploads. This is why your upload speed is probably lower than your download speed.
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Now, each VoIP phone call typically requires 100 Kpbs up and down – or 1/10th a Mpbs. So if your upload speed is 10 Mpbs, you could theoretically handle up to 100 VoIP phone calls at once. The actual number, however, is closer to 10 or 20 calls. Here’s why:
Bandwidth (Upload Speed)
Bandwidth Fluctuation (Subtract)
Internet Browsing Activity (Subtract)
Bandwidth Available for VoIP
Maximum Number Of Concurrent Phone Calls
- 105 Kbps
- 250 Kbps (1 user)
1 phone call
- 210 Kbps
- 500 Kbps (2 users)
2 phone concurrent phone calls.
- 1.05 Mbps
- 2.75 Mbps (11 users)
11 concurrent phone calls
- 2.1 Mpbs
- 5.5 Mbps (22 users)
22 concurrent phone calls
- 16.5 Mbps (66 users)
66 concurrent phone calls.
There’s two main reasons why you need to give some leeway when measuring bandwidth. For one, internet speeds fluctuate throughout the day. When more subscribers in your local area are using the internet, speeds can vary up to 21 percent, according to one study of broadband internet connections. Granted, peak internet use tends to occur later in the evening (around 9pm) so the difference won’t be as drastic during regular business hours.
Another factor is web browsing. if you’re using the same internet connection to check email, stream videos, or run web applications, your VoIP lines will have to compete for bandwidth. Heavy internet activity (Email + Youtube + Spotify) takes about 1 Mbps download per user. Fortunately they don’t require nearly as much upload bandwidth – we’ll say about 0.25 Mpbs per user just for good measure. The exception is if you do a lot of upload-intensive work, like sharing graphics or collaborating on files. Then this number could be a lot higher.
The last thing to keep in mind is how pushing your bandwidth can affect call quality. As you reach your max, voice quality diminishes and calls can potentially be dropped. This is why we recommend extra headroom, even with fluctuation and internet browsing taken into account. For example, even though a 10Mbps connection should be able to support up to 22 lines, we recommend using just 10 to 20 lines for good measure.
The other number you’ll see on the speed test is Ping. This measures the latency (or delay) between your computer and the network you’re connecting to, so it translates to the delay you’ll hear when speaking on the phone. Anything below 100ms is a safe number. Here’s why:
Delays typically aren’t noticeable on the phone unless they’re over 250 milliseconds (ms). So if your ping time is below 100ms and the person you’re speaking with has a ping time below 100ms, you should be good to go. The reason we leave an extra 50ms for leeway is because of the delay the system takes to encode and decode the voice.
The Bottom Line
Most broadband connections are well over the requirements to support 1 to 10 concurrent VoIP phone calls. With a high speed business connection, that number can be much higher. Just bear in mind that VoIP calls have to compete with other upload-intensive internet activities. So if you do things like collaborate on graphics or just upload a lot of files, you’ll have to factor that into your VoIP capabilities.
VoIP call quality is similar to traditional phone service, provided you have the appropriate internet connection. If you are looking for a high quality VoIP service provider we recommend Nextiva, and you can read our full VoIP provider comparison guide here.