This article is part of a larger series on Unified Communications.
Phone echoing is when you hear voices or sounds repeating when you’re on a video or audio call. Sometimes it’s minor, but if the delay is too long or the sound is too loud, phone echoing can deteriorate an entire conversation. Find out more about the causes of phone echoing and five ways you can improve the customer experience by fixing it.
5 Common Causes of Phone Echoing
Phone echoing can occur for several reasons, regardless of your system’s voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) audio quality features, service plan, or how much you’re paying. Common causes range from increased internet traffic impacting VoIP calls to faulty hardware, device feedback, or poor connections.
Here are the primary causes of phone echoing:
- Increased internet traffic or limited bandwidth: If your internet bandwidth is limited, decreased upload and download speed can cause an echo-inducing lag.
- Interrupted Wi-Fi or cellular signal: A poor signal can cause delays in data transfers, resulting in phone echoing and suspended audio.
- Feedback from nearby devices: Speakerphones and close proximity to electromagnetic currents can introduce echoing to the call.
- Faulty hardware: Damaged handsets or cabling can lead to phone echoing.
- Jitter or packet loss on the line: Jitter above 20ms and packet loss issues can lead to echoing.
Below, we walk you through these common causes in more detail and outline what you can do to fix them.
Increased Internet Traffic or Limited Bandwidth
VoIP calls require sufficient bandwidth. While you might have a strong internet connection, it might not be able to support 10 or 20 simultaneous calls, especially if some users are on high definition (HD) audio or video conference calls.
Internet bandwidth could also be bogged down by users streaming video, downloading large files, backing up large amounts of data, or using other forms of unified communications (UC). When your internet connection is overloaded, VoIP call quality often suffers, and this can lead to phone echoing and voice lag.
How to Fix It
Fortunately, there are ways to solve this issue. First, run a speed test to see if there’s a problem with your internet bandwidth. If your network is the issue, contact your internet service provider to see if you can upgrade your plan. If that’s not an option, try contacting your VoIP service provider to see if they impose bandwidth restrictions on your account.
If these methods don’t help, you can also work with an information technology (IT) consultant to troubleshoot your system or implement a virtual local area network (VLAN). A VLAN prioritizes VoIP communications, reducing the chance call quality will suffer when there’s congestion on the network.
Interrupted Wi-Fi or Cellular Signal
A poor internet connection or cellular signal often leads to phone echoing, lag, and other call quality issues. Callers typically experience these problems when they’re on the go. For example, it’s common to run into call issues when making calls from the road, hotels, or on shared networks in coffee shops or restaurants.
How to Fix It
Test your network speed with a free VoIP speed test before initiating or joining calls. If your home office or business is the problem, talk to your internet service provider and cell phone provider. If they can’t resolve the issue, you might need to switch to a provider that offers better services or coverage.
Feedback From Nearby Devices
A caller’s own device on speakerphone is a common culprit for phone echoing. The sound from the loudspeaker travels back through the microphone, causing the speaker’s voice to echo on loop. Other nearby devices emitting an electromagnetic current can also interfere with call quality. Placing your calling device on top of a computer, tablet, or monitor can cause this issue.
How to Fix It
Turn off your speakerphone to see if that fixes the problem. If there’s still an echo, try using headphones—this separates the sound from your microphone. Look to see if your device is close to any other devices that might be causing electromagnetic interference. A nearby computer, monitor, tablet, or smartphone could cause this issue.
Damaged phones or handsets, kinks in the wiring, and even faulty electrical and cable outlets can interfere with your device’s performance and cause phone echoing. Fortunately, if you can isolate the culprit, this is fairly easy to solve, although replacing some equipment can be costly.
How to Fix It
Experiment with using a different phone. If the phone echoing disappears on another device, it’s likely an issue with your hardware or feedback from nearby devices. Move your phone away from other devices to rule out feedback being the cause. If the problem persists, you may need to repair or replace your hardware or devices or determine whether your outlets or other connections could be to blame.
The cause could be limited to a specific piece of hardware, such as your headset or wiring. Isolate frequently used components to get down to the root cause. It’s also possible that your equipment is incompatible with your VoIP service provider or plan. Contact your service provider to ensure the phones you’re using work with your VoIP phone system.
Jitter or Packet Loss on the Line
Jitter and packet loss can both negatively impact call quality and cause phone echoing. Jitter measures the variation in time between data packets arriving. When there’s network congestion, data packet arrival may vary and cause phone echoing. Any amount of jitter above 20ms can lead to this problem.
Packet loss is when data packets fail to arrive at all after being transmitted across a network. Data packets failing to arrive or arriving late can cause call quality issues and a delayed echo. To ensure a smooth conversation, packet loss needs to remain at 0%.
How to Fix It
Jitter happens to some degree, but too much can negatively impact your calls. Here are a few ways you can mitigate jitter:
- Use an Ethernet cable. Your Wi-Fi connection may not be adequate or might not reach a part of the office you’re located. An Ethernet cable connection resolves that problem.
- Implement a VLAN to prioritize VoIP communication.
- Purchase a more powerful router capable of managing more traffic.
- Reduce unnecessary bandwidth usage; if you work from home, that might mean asking others not to stream videos or play online games while you take VoIP calls.
- Choose the right VoIP provider. Some providers, like RingCentral, offer HD audio, ensuring a better call quality experience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does echoing mean your call is being recorded?
Potentially, depending on your business’ phone system. But if your phone system doesn’t support call recording, it’s likely that one of the reasons above is the cause of phone echoing. Even if your system supports recording, one of these causes could still be to blame.
Can a phone call echo on a landline call?
Yes. Phone echoing isn’t limited to VoIP calls. Landline phones can echo due to speakerphones, faulty hardware, or damaged wiring.
What is the best VoIP provider for audio quality?
We recommend RingCentral. RingCentral provides HD audio across one-to-one and both audio and video conference calls. Plus, more than 350,000 businesses worldwide use RingCentral, adding testament to their services, coverage, and quality.
Phone echoing can make or break a business call. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with it. If you’re experiencing phone echoing, work your way through these common causes and fixes to get to the root of the problem.
If the issue persists, consider switching to a top VoIP service provider like RingCentral. They can help provide you with the right consultation, hardware, bandwidth, and plan to give you the best audio quality for your phone calls.