This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
A voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) service enables users to make and receive calls on the internet, but the quality relies on a stable connection. Performing a VoIP speed test determines if your existing internet connection is compatible with a VoIP service. It provides extensive data about your internet bandwidth based on upload and download speed, ping, and jitter. In this article, we explore how network speed directly affects VoIP performance.
A VoIP test tool provides valuable insights into how your current network will affect your VoIP call quality. Below, we include a free VoIP test tool to find out if your internet connection supports the recommended VoIP speed requirements. Try it out below:
VoIP Network Parameters
A VoIP speed test consists of metrics indicating the quality and reliability of an internet connection, including the bandwidth (download and upload speed), ping, and jitter. Recommended internet speed for VoIP varies across service providers, but there is a standard range for each metric. Here’s a quick breakdown of what your speed test results mean:
VoIP Speed Test Metric
What the Numbers Mean for VoIP
(Download & Upload Speed)
Indicates your connection speed when downloading and uploading data from the internet. You’ll need at least one megabit per second (Mbps) for every VoIP call.
The time it takes for voice data to travel from the speaker to the receiver. You want a latency level below 150 milliseconds (ms). Ideally, the lower the ping, the better.
Directly affects call quality and should be always less than 25 ms.
Note that speed results will sometimes be lower than the speed plan you purchased from your internet provider, which might be caused by other apps running in the background. To better understand the impact of your internet connection on your VoIP service, we explained the core components of network quality parameters.
Click on each drop-down button to take a closer look at the different VoIP speed parameters:
Bandwidth determines the upload and download speed, which measures the overall capacity of a network to transfer data at a given time. In VoIP, network bandwidth facilitates the real-time transmission of voice data. The speed needed for VoIP calls requires around 100 kilobits per second (kbps).
A higher bandwidth capacity gives you high-quality voice calls and the ability to make more VoIP calls simultaneously. Use the chart below to determine how many calls your network bandwidth can support.
Bandwidth (Upload Speed)
Maximum # Lines
Recommended # Lines
Upload speed refers to how fast your network transmits data packets from your device to the internet. It affects the time required to upload a large file or send a video to another user. A higher upload speed results in better call quality.
However, your upload speed will be lower than your download speed unless you have a dedicated or symmetrical business internet connection. In this case, compute your total bandwidth based on your upload speed, not your download speed.
Download speed refers to how quickly you receive data packets from the internet. It’s measured in Mbps and affects activities, such as video streaming and accessing cloud-based software. Your download speed should be equal to or higher than your upload speed.
Normally, download speeds will be higher than upload speeds, so reviewing the lower of the two numbers is crucial. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends a minimum download speed of fewer than 0.5 Mbps for a VoIP call and 1.5 Mbps for a one-on-one high-definition (HD) video call.
A VoIP ping test measures the milliseconds it takes for your data packets to reach the server. Higher ping numbers result in audio packets being delayed. It creates delays and echoes during VoIP calls. While ping tracks the one-way trip to the server, latency covers the whole trip (ping and pong responses).
Verify if your VoIP speed results refer to ping or latency to ensure you understand the results correctly. Ping test results of less than 60 ms are preferable, whereas latency over 150 ms is detrimental to VoIP calls. Higher numbers indicate that you may want to adjust your router settings to prioritize VoIP calls, which can be extremely helpful during high-traffic hours.
Jitter refers to the time variations between packets being sent and received. Like ping and latency, a network speed test for jitter uses milliseconds for measurement. High-quality calls have a jitter rating between 15 and 20 ms. Delays of 30 ms result in dropped calls, distortion, and static.
If there’s an issue with your jitter rate, consider reducing bandwidth usage or upgrading to an Ethernet cable using a desktop. If your upload and download speeds are reasonable, but jitter remains high, adjust your network’s quality of service (QoS) setting as recommended for high ping rates.
In a VoIP call, voice data is transmitted over the internet through small units of data called packets. Packet loss occurs when packets of data fail to reach their destination, resulting in delayed audio, missed or jumbled words, and dropped calls. This is caused by several factors, such as network congestion, software bugs, hardware failures, or cybersecurity attacks.
While packet loss is typically associated with poor network performance, there are basic checks you can do to prevent it. These include restarting the device, inspecting network wires, and replacing old hardware. Our guide about how to fix packet loss explains its common causes and corresponding solutions.
Setting up QoS for VoIP ensures voice calls have dedicated traffic. Often, routers give the same importance to each connection, causing your VoIP service to suffer. This applies when a VoIP system shares the same internet connection with other bandwidth-intensive activities like internet browsing or video conferencing.
QoS addresses network congestion by prioritizing voice traffic over other types of traffic passing through a router. Consult your internet provider and VoIP service provider to learn the guidelines for prioritizing voice traffic. This may require upgrading your internet speed for VoIP, configuring equipment, or using wired connections. With a VoIP QoS policy in place, voice calls will experience more consistent and dedicated bandwidth.
The Importance of a VoIP Speed Test
A VoIP speed test is extremely useful in understanding your network’s capabilities for a VoIP service. The last thing you want is to pay for a VoIP service you cannot get the best of. To ensure a successful transition to a business phone system, here are reasons why you should perform a speed test for VoIP:
- Measure network performance: Your speed test result will confirm if your existing internet connection works equally well throughout the day and matches the speeds your internet service provider (ISP) promised.
- Discover barriers to business growth: Getting a poor bandwidth test result helps make necessary network adjustments for your team. Taking an internet speed test determines the number of devices you can connect or concurrent calls your staff can make.
- Uncover gaps in network connectivity: A VoIP speed test determines if your connection is stable enough to support your team’s online activities. This will help you plan if your company’s internet usage will affect the quality of your VoIP phone service.
- Enhance staff and customer experiences: Ensuring your internet connection meets the VoIP speed requirements reduces misunderstandings during calls and negative staff experiences. Better call quality leads to satisfied customers and productive phone conversations.
- Reduce risks from adopting new technologies: Unforeseen problems with speed or latency put your reputation at risk. A VoIP speed test reveals potential vulnerabilities in network performance early on and helps optimize it for a new VoIP service.
What to Do With a Poor Bandwidth Result
If you’ve completed the VoIP connection test and the results aren’t looking great, there’s a good chance the problem lies on your end instead of your ISP. Getting a poor bandwidth result on your VoIP speed test isn’t necessarily an issue. Before scheduling a service call to your ISP, here are ways to troubleshoot your network connection:
- Scan for security vulnerabilities: Viruses and malware can slow down your internet connectivity. Scan your connected devices and internet network to see if malicious programs are hogging your bandwidth.
- Use a wired connection: If you run the test using a wireless connection, try it again by using an Ethernet cable to connect your desktop computer and modem. Make sure the cable is connected securely and is damage-free. If there’s a significant difference between your Wi-Fi and wired test, there could be a problem with your wireless router.
- Configure your QoS feature: Network congestion is a typical cause of a poor VoIP connection. Check if many active network users engage in heavy internet usage (e.g., video meetings). Try setting up the QoS feature of your router or phone system to prioritize VoIP traffic.
- Consult your internet service provider: Call your ISP to review your network lines. If everything works normally, upgrade your internet subscription package to one with higher speeds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do VoIP phones affect internet speed?
VoIP phones use very little bandwidth, and the FCC recommends a minimum download speed of 0.5 Mbps for VoIP calls. However, your audio calls may be affected if you use your phone system for one-to-one or group video conferencing while receiving audio calls through the same internet connection.
What are the factors affecting my VoIP speed test results?
Factors like ISP, number of network users, type of applications used, and the overall hardware can affect the results of your speed test. The type of internet connection may also affect your network performance, as each type of connection (i.e., fiber optics, cellular, or wireless) comes at different speeds.
How do I get the best possible results for my VoIP speed test?
Most speed tests recommend that users close all applications running in the background. An idle network connection ensures accurate results. If you’re in an office setting, run the test after work hours or when there’s minimal internet activity.
Taking a VoIP speed test before setting up a VoIP system ensures that your existing network can support your business communication requirements. It offers valuable insights into the strength of your internet connection and helps diagnose the exact causes of your network inefficiencies.
Choosing the right VoIP provider has a direct impact on the quality of your calls. RingCentral offers comprehensive guidance to assess your network readiness and determine the QoS settings. Take advantage of its 14-day free trial to see if it’s a good fit for your business communication needs.