VoIP Speed Test – Can Your Office Internet Handle VoIP Phones?

speedtestBecause VoIP is an Internet-based phone service, it’s essential to make sure your small business Internet connection can handle the service. Without sufficient resources, the advantages of VoIP are lost—you’ll experience poor call quality, intermittent service, and other difficulties.  Below is a list of VoIP speed test providers as well as a full overview of how to evaluate your current internet connection’s ability to handle VoIP phones.

If you are looking for a business VoIP service provider we recommend Nextiva.

Read our full review and comparison of top VoIP service providers here.

VoIP Speed Test Providers:

Some of the numbers you’ll see during the VoIP speed test include:

  • Download speed: This shows you what your connection’s download capabilities are in kbps—the higher, the better. Typical home broadband download speeds range from 8Mb to 100+Mb, but this is expected to increase over the next few years.

  • Upload speed: Again, this one is better when it’s higher. Upload speed reflects the actual bandwidth available to the computer you’re testing from. These typically range from 2.5Mb to 10Mb, or higher for business downloads.

  • Packet loss: This figure shows the number of packets (pieces of data sent over the Internet) that fail to reach their destination. A high packet loss can make calls sound choppy, due to delays in sent information. Generally speaking, any packet loss above 2% is indicative of a problem.

  • Latency: This is the time it takes for a packet to travel to a designated point and back. High latency causes periods of silence and delays in phone conversations. VoIP systems usually exhibit a minimum of 20 ms latency, with a maximum of 150 ms for consumer use.

  • Jitter: Latency, when it occurs, is not always consistent. Jitter measures any variances in latency speeds that cause some packets to take longer to travel than others. If your connection has high jitter values, voice packets could be delivered out of order and produce a talk-over or echo effect. The acceptable amount of jitter will vary widely based on the adapter being used and the method used to measure the jitter.

Here is a full overview of the different types of internet connections and what you can expect to need for varying levels of VoIP usage.

Basic connection types: What do you need?

There are several types of Internet connections available today. The good news is that nearly any of them will support VoIP well, with the notable exception of dial-up connections—which you’re not likely to have, as a tech-savvy small business.

While dial-up doesn’t provide sufficient resources for VoIP, most broadband connections can work, including cable and DSL (direct service line). The more powerful T1 and fiber networks can also handle the demands of VoIP service.

VoIP and bandwidth

Bandwidth—the speed of Internet transmissions measured in kilobytes per second (kbsp)—is the biggest determining factor in your connection’s ability to support VoIP service and score highly on a VoIP speedtest. The more bandwidth you have available, the more VoIP lines you can realistically use without affecting call quality.

Most small businesses will be using either a cable or a DSL connection. The main difference in bandwidth here is that cable connections offer “up to” a maximum amount of bandwidth, while DSL has a more consistent bandwidth capability because it’s a dedicated connection. Cable bandwidth fluctuates according to how many subscribers in a network area are accessing the Internet at a given time—so, for example, potential bandwidth is usually higher in rural areas than urban centers.

Just how much bandwidth do you need?

The second factor to consider is the audio codecs used by the VoIP provider. There are two types: full quality audio uses 87 kbps of bandwidth for each call, and compressed audio uses 33 kbps per call.

So, you can calculate how many VoIP lines your connection can support by looking at the bandwidth—according to the upload stream, rather than the download stream. As a rule, the upload bandwidth is lower than the download number.

A typical DSL connection offers 600 kbps upload streams and 5,000 kbps downloads. (Cable modem download speeds are normally up to twice as fast.) Based on those numbers, you’d technically be able to support:

  • 6 lines with full quality audio (600 / 87), or
  • 18 lines with compressed audio (600 / 33)

However, even with DSL connections, bandwidth capabilities fluctuate throughout the day with varying usage. Pushing your connection to the limit can result in lowered quality or dropped calls if your bandwidth changes, so it’s better to estimate on the low side when deciding how many lines you can support.

Wired vs. wireless: Will It Effect Your VoIp Speedtest?

Some Internet service providers offer connections with wireless routers, which can be convenient. But can a wireless router support VoIP service?

The short answer is: not reliably. Wireless transmissions can be interrupted, and bandwidth doesn’t typically remain strong and consistent. Your best option for VoIP service is to use a wired router to avoid poor sound quality and maintain a clear connection.

If you are looking for a business VoIP service provider we recommend Nextiva.  Read our full review and comparison of top VoIP service providers here.

Questions or comments? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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Comments (2)

  1. said on

    Nowadays should be able to handle it, though it depends on the location in the world, weather conditions and number of participants in conversation. I personally have a lot of troubles with conference calls, as currently I am based in Thailand and the connection is very unstable.

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