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VoIP Bandwidth 101

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 12:15
VoIP Bandwidth

A typical question arises when seeking to implement a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone system across an enterprise: "How much bandwidth does VoIP use?" The question is naturally translated to "how much bandwidth is sufficient for efficient business operations?" Calls must be able to be made and received by a designated number of users each day and ensure a high level of quality. Before determining the amount of bandwidth required for VoIP phone usage, let’s take a step back and define bandwidth.

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time (Webopedia). Across digital devices, it is normally measured in bits per second (bps), while for analog devices, it may be measured in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz). Sometimes you hear bandwidth described as being a pipe between your business and an internet service provider. So, you want your “pipe” to be as large in diameter as possible, for better throughput. And by throughput, we mean how much data, voice and otherwise, can be sent and be received back (upload and download speeds) - also an indicator of the amount of available bandwidth.

How Much Bandwidth do I Need?

Just buy the biggest package available, right?

Now you might be thinking, “Well, we’ll just sign-up for the maximum amount of bandwidth available from our local service provider!” In actuality, the goal is to maximize your bandwidth. However, in practice, what you’ll end up with in bandwidth will depend on the availability of cable, DSL, fiber and satellite providers in your area. Most providers will have a variety of packages, and some offer savings on bundled services. You’ll also want to consider the potential growth or downsizing that might take place within the business, and how being locked into a 2 or 3-year contract will affect bandwidth requirements.

Bandwidth is effected by connection types.

Another issue affecting VoIP bandwidth speeds and availability is how much voice and data is being transmitted across the internet connection. For instance, with a cable connection, the amount of bandwidth is shared with other users at certain points in the connection, versus a fiber connection, which is a dedicated connection between your business and the internet service provider. While the former connection has the potential to cause bottlenecks or cause reduced phone system speeds, the latter may not provide adequate business continuity options in the event that there is an interruption in the direct line between you and the service provider.

VoIP Bandwidth Requirements by the Numbers

So, how much bandwidth does your business actually require to make a VoIP phone call? In the majority of cases, a typical VoIP phone call will use about 80 kilobits per second (Kbps) (BandCalc). Using this information and rounding up, you can approximate that you’d need around 100 Kbps of bandwidth, minimum, per concurrent call. This equates to speeds of around 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) for your internet connection. There are many more technical factors that enter into these calculations; however, these are some good ballpark figures to guestimate what is required for your VoIP phone system in terms of bandwidth. The type of Codecs being used on the network – used to compress and decompress data for faster transmission – also affect optimal bandwidth speeds. Be sure to consider all types of information that will be exchanged across your chosen bandwidth: voice; data; and video, as it will have a direct impact on the quality of your VoIP phone system connections.

How to Achieve VoIP Bandwidth Requirements

Probably the best way to achieve consistent call quality in a VoIP phone system, provide adequate amounts of bandwidth, and ensure business continuity, is to invest in a Hosted Voice Solution. West offers two feature-rich enterprise IP voice services for optimized collaboration and communication with customers and vendors. Each option provides high call quality standards, ease of management, resiliency, and a decrease in downtime and total costs. VoiceMaxx and VoiceMaxx CE both provide VoIP services that can meet any business need:

  • Softphone Integration
  • Mobile Device Integration
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Video & Web Conferencing
  • Unified Messaging
  • Cloud Contact Center Services
  • Integration with productivity applications

West has the network infrastructure in place, as a leading service provider in the industry, to ensure calls are routed quickly and appropriately, disaster recovery options are in place, and bandwidth is ample and maximized.

To guarantee consistent call quality through concurrent and diverse usage across your enterprise VoIP phone system, partner with an industry leader like West. Whether your business has an on-premises PBX, phone services hosted in the cloud, or a combination of the two, we can customize a solution that provides the bandwidth, network infrastructure, and features designed to meet your company’s individual needs.

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