To foster improved communication between employees, departments, other offices, vendors and clients, many businesses are opting to install a VoIP communications system. The VoIP market has surged exponentially in recent years as more businesses realize the benefits of a feature-rich, cost-effective communications system that grows as your business grows, often without requiring any additional equipment or maintenance.
However, despite our ever-advancing technology, VoIP systems are not immune to issues. Consequently, VoIP troubleshooting is occasionally required. Many issues can often be easily resolved. And some might never come to fruition at all if proper planning is performed before installing the VoIP system. That’s because the cloud-based system requires a strong, stable Internet connection to work effectively.
Many businesses fail to ensure that their current network is up to par and subsequently experience VoIP issues as a result. Sometimes simply upgrading network equipment or even upgrading your current business Internet plan can make a big difference in your VoIP performance.
Still, there might otherwise be an occasional problem that requires VoIP troubleshooting. Here are seven of the most common problems with VoIP calls and the system in general and how you can fix them:
Talkroute: Take Your VoIP Calls Anywhere
Turn your desktop and mobile devices into a virtual phone system that’s ready and available at home, the office or on the road. Talkroute is trusted by thousands of customers who rely on our system to stay connected. Learn More
1. Audio That Breaks Up During the Call
Voice quality is, of course, an important factor when attempting to communicate with clients and customers. Nothing frustrates a customer more than not being able to communicate effectively. And it’s embarrassing when talking with colleagues or vendors and you constantly need to repeat what you’ve said or ask them to do the same. It causes a slowdown in productivity or the potential loss of a customer.
In addition to broken audio during the VoIP call, there might be other strange sounds or echoes that disturb and distort the audio. When speaking with clients or vendors, this just makes your organization seem rather unprofessional in terms of your technology.
Thankfully, there is an easy fix for this, as the culprit is usually your network’s bandwidth capacity. Your bandwidth is the measure of how much data can be carried over the network connection. Remember what we said earlier about making sure your network can handle the data traffic?
VoIP Troubleshooting Broken Audio
The first thing to do is conduct a VoIP speed test. This will tell you if your network isn’t performing well enough to handle the VoIP connection. It is recommended that you conduct at least three tests to get a good measure of the network performance since test results can vary.
Based on the test results, you can get a good idea of what your bandwidth is. If it is significantly lower than what your current Internet plan is supposed to be providing, you’ll need to contact the service provider and alert them to the issue so they can resolve the problem. Otherwise, you’re simply paying for bandwidth that you aren’t actually receiving.
For additional details about your network, you can also run a network assessment test. This test provides much more in-depth information about your network. If you aren’t savvy with all the technical details and don’t have an IT person on staff, don’t worry. You can provide the details to your VoIP provider or an outsourced managed IT services provider and they can tell you what you might need to do to improve your network’s bandwidth capacity.
Of course while bandwidth issues absolutely play a factor when it comes to poor audio quality, this can sometimes be the symptom of the problem and not the cause. This is why the overall quality of your internet connection may need to be evaluated in order to identify the further cause of packet loss, latency, and jitter as it relates to VoIP QoS (Quality of Service).
2. Dropped Calls
Even worse than broken audio is a dropped call. If you’ve tried contacting customer service for any company lately, you might have noticed that they always ask you for a callback number in case the call gets cut off. That’s because, unfortunately, dropped calls do occur.
A dropped VoIP call means that the phone was disconnected from the network. This problem is more prone to happen on high-volume networks where a lot of outbound calls are frequently taking place. Thankfully, there are simple fixes for this problem.
Fixing Dropped VoIP Calls
First, check to see what version of firmware you currently have. Sometimes updating to the latest version is all that is needed. If that doesn’t work or you already have the latest version, then you might need to adjust your router settings.
Your phone uses something called “keepalive” to keep connections open on the router or firewall. Keepalive messages let your phone and your phone provider know that you are on a call. If your provider or your phone sends a keepalive message but no one responds, the call may be dropped.
Shortening your keepalive interval may help solve this problem and if you feel this may be the cause of your issue, you should absolutely inform your VoIP provider. Any good VoIP provider can help troubleshoot specific calls and see why they may have dropped. Your provider will also have access to make internal adjustments to your system settings that you may not be able to change yourself.
3. Delays or Call Disruption
Many problems with a VoIP call can be traced to what is referred to as latency which results in data packet loss. When a VoIP call is made, your voice is transformed into data that is being transferred through the network. The data is transferred in small amounts, called packets. The data travels through the network to its destination and is reassembled into your words for the recipient to hear.
But what happens when the data never reaches its destination? That is data packet loss and to you or the recipient of the phone call, it appears as poor call quality or even a dropped call.
Another term for a related issue is jitter, which is when the data does, in fact, reach its destination, just not in the proper order. This can happen on high-traffic networks that are heavily congested. It certainly makes for a confusing phone call.
Fixing Jitter and Data Packet Loss
Installing a jitter buffer is a recommended VoIP troubleshooting fix, especially if you don’t often experience this problem. The buffer ensures that the data packets reach their destination in the correct order, eliminating choppy, disruptive audio.
If you experience jitter and data packet loss more frequently, other steps will be required. For starters, examine what type of equipment you are using to make your calls. Are you using wireless earbuds or headphones? These require an extra step of travel for the data, so switching to wired headsets might improve the call quality.
Of course, the problem could also be your network. You will need to contact your IT support staff to have them monitor the network and determine the areas of congestion. They should be able to identify the VoIP data and segregate it so that it is better protected as it travels through the network.
4. Audio Delays
Some VoIP calls seem to experience delays in the audio, which is referred to as latency. This is caused by a delay in the data traveling from the source (the computer or phone system) to your headphones. Causes of latency can be the headset, the network or the device the call is being made on (or even a combination of all three).
Sometimes, it is simply a matter of making sure all firmware and software are up to date. The latest updates often contain bug fixes and may instantly solve the latency problem. If not, the connections may be suffering from not being plugged in correctly. We know it’s a bit cliché, but sometimes simply unplugging and plugging the devices back in will do the trick.
You might also want to speak with your VoIP provider to see which headsets they recommend. Some headsets work much better than others with certain phone systems. Choosing the right headset can make a big difference in latency and overall call quality.
5. No Audio
Here’s another surefire way to disrupt communication and productivity or frustrate a client — make a call with no audio. You can usually avoid this problem by making sure your microphone settings are correct before you make or receive any calls. You’ll also need to make sure that any headsets are selected as the default microphones. And lastly, make sure things are all plugged in properly.
If you are certain your microphone is working properly, it may be time to turn your attention to troubleshooting your network. It is extremely common for a router that is misbehaving to cause no audio or one-way audio during a VoIP call.
6. Poor Quality or Very Low Audio
Sometimes the audio might sound very low or muffled. Again, this could also be due to your microphone settings, but it can also be due to your network bandwidth. Too much data traveling on the network, or a network that isn’t configured properly, could be affecting the quality of the audio on the VoIP call. However, the root of the problem might also be the VoIP network being used by the other person on the line.
Regardless, you want to make sure that your network or VoIP system isn’t the problem, so once again, check your network. Is your bandwidth maxed out? Has the network been set up correctly for optimal performance? Is everything updated? Check all these things and consult with your IT person or VoIP provider for extra guidance.
7. Unable to Make Outgoing Calls
It’s going to be an extremely unproductive day if your organization is unable to make outgoing calls, so this is one VoIP troubleshooting issue you’re definitely going to want to fix fast.
Can you guess what the first thing you should check is? That’s right, it’s your network. More specifically, the network layout. To fix this VoIP issue, you’re going to have to get technical (or, your IT person will).
The first place to look is the Application Layer Gateway or ALG. This is the part of the network that ensures data flows efficiently through your firewall or NAT (Network Address Translation). Sometimes disabling SIP ALG will fix this problem. But you’ll also need to check that you aren’t using additional routers or NAT systems since that can also cause data packets to be stopped in their tracks.
Configuring both your network and your VoIP system properly from the start can help you avoid or at least reduce the number of problems you’ll experience with a VoIP call. Some VoIP experts recommend segmenting your VoIP phones so that each one performs better. Essentially, you are setting up each phone in its own VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network), which will serve to improve call quality, eliminate congestion in the network and even improve network security. Doing this also makes VoIP troubleshooting easier, since you can more accurately discover weak points in the network.
Using ethernet instead of Wi-Fi can also make a significant difference in your call quality and connectivity, since ethernet actually has faster speeds, allowing the data to flow quicker and more reliably. And ethernet won’t be disrupted by physical objects that degrade a Wi-Fi signal.
Is it Possible to Have VoIP Without Any Problems?
Unfortunately, no. That’s because your network usage and data traffic is always consistently in a state of flux. So, even with the very best VoIP systems, you’ll still likely experience latency, jitter and poor audio quality from time to time. But so long as you maintain your network and equipment and use the above VoIP troubleshooting tips to make the most out of your VoIP system, the benefits of such an advanced communications system will far outweigh the few quality issues you’ll experience.
VoIP is especially ideally suited for today’s fast-changing workscape — remote workers, hybrid offices and those working in the field all need to be able to communicate more effectively and VoIP is the means to do so in a modern and rewarding manner.
For more information on how you can advance your current phone system and turn your phones and desktops into a virtual phone network, book a demo with Talkroute today. Our virtual phone system gives you the ability to make & receive calls from any desktop, browser or smartphone. With Talkroute, you have the power of an enterprise-level phone system without having to purchase or maintain any special equipment. Download our apps to begin making business calls from your PC & smartphone today. Contact us to discuss how our services can help you better manage your business calls!
See Why 1000s of Customers Love Talkroute
Try our virtual phone service today for free and see what our customers are raving about. Try Talkroute