What Could Go Wrong?

Joel Goldstein - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

There isn’t an application as sensitive on the network as VoIP. An email which arrives a minute later can be tolerated, not so with voice. As packets carrying voice traffic flow through the network, they pass many devices, be it servers, switches, or routers, some are bound to be lost. When one packet gets lost, the end user won’t notice anything. But if several packets get lost the end result will be a choppy, degraded voice experience. (Although real-time video conferencing is much more sensitive than VoIP, it isn't widely adopted and still has a long way to go.)

Because voice is so fundamental to every business, every effort has to be made to keep its integrity. Even in a world where email is taking over, voice is still king.
The science behind data networks is complicated. The technology which makes the Internet, and by extension, VoIP, possible is vast. Hundreds of books teaching this technology have been written, and are constantly updated. There is no one person who knows them all, or even a fraction of them.
To upkeep a network takes years of experience. Every issue which arises needs to be dealt with individually. No two problems are alike.
But what makes VoIP even more complicated is that it’s extremely time sensitive. A packet which arrives even one second late is already too late.
There are some metrics which can measure the quality of a voice network, the most famous one being MOS, which stands for Mean Opinion Score. It’s a measure ranging from 1 to 5, 1 being the worst and 5 the best.
Many, many tools have been created to monitor a data networks, and/or voice networks.
We can’t recommend any one over the other. But a simple search on Google will get you many results all vying for you attention and you money. (Although when signing up with TeleGo all this is not necessary as TeleGo monitors the network for you, so you can go about daily business.)
When a user experiences a problem those tools are purported to help you quickly find the problem. Sometimes they help, sometimes not. One tool can excel in one area but not so much in the others. A different tool could do just the opposite.
Finding the root cause of a problem, be it choppy voice, or be it a lost connection, is the hardest thing. The root cause – which once fixed should supposedly solve the problem once and for all – is elusive. Oftentimes a solution will be found which could temporary fix the problem, but by patching and doing a half-baked job the problems are bound to come back sooner or later, and with greater intensity. Experience has proven this too many times.
So how can you keep a data network in general, and a voice network in particular, flowing smoothly? Only through years of experiencing hundreds of problems, with a keen eye to detail can problems be solved in the most efficient manner.
Many books and courses have been created to teach workings of a network. By reading and getting familiar with them, the user will see that no problem is alike, and only knowledge, and more knowledge, will keep a network in tip-top shape.
Only by choosing the most experienced IT guys can a company stay ahead.
When a voice packet originating, let’s say from NYC, ends up somewhere around the world, it can only be a miracle. This packet has probably hopped through many devices, has been opened, read, and send further many times, and has travelled through many different competing providers.
Only the best can maintain a smooth voice network, devoid of jitter, delays, echo, and unpleasant sounds.
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