VoIP — Call Quality is Key

Not all VoIP telephone systems deliver the same sound quality.  That’s OK if you’re using it to talk to family members and friends around the country or across the globe.  Choppy connections with dropped words, noise on the line, echoing, and outright disconnections can be common with a low-quality system.  But heck, when you’re paying a low monthly fee for all-you-can-eat calling, you simply endure, or hang up and redial.  No big deal. 

On the other hand, when you’re using your VoIP telephone system to connect with clients, prospects, peers and referral sources, poor quality is decidedly not fine!  Put another way, if a client asks if you’re calling from a submarine, that’s a clue that sound quality is an issue.

Back in August, I announced that I had won a new telephone system in a post uncreatively titled “We Won a New VoIP Telephone System!!!”  I promised to report regularly once cutover happened.  There were some delays before that actually happened.  The telephones which were to be deployed were a new model.  It took  much longer than anticipated for them to get shipped.  But the wait seemed worth it, based on some of the anticipated features available.  But when they finally arrived, the provider could not get them properly configured and working reliably, and refused to send them to me knowing they were imperfect. 

What a welcome change from the experience most consumers have today.  Admit it, you know you’ve been the beta site for more than one device or software package.  Sure, the vendor knows it won’t work right,  But that doesn’t stop them from delivering it to you, in exchange for your hard-earned dollars, and then trying to work through it on your dime.  Meanwhile, you endure the hiccups.  So while it was annoying to wait so long, I was actually relieved to hear that a different manufacturer and model was going to be deployed, because it’s track record was that it worked reliably.  And in fact it did.

The first thing which was clear upon installation — crystal clear, in fact — was the sound quality of each call.  The previous system suffered from choppy calls, dropped calls, and bathyspherish sound and echoing.  But those were “distinct” experiences, meaning not on every call.  I thought the calls which did not have any of these issues were decent.  I heard the person on the other end, and they heard me.  However, when I compare the sound quality of the former system with that of the current system, there is just no comparison at all.  It’s like comparing the sound from a Bose headset to a cheap <$20 headset from the local big box store.  They’re not in the same class. 

The clarity of sound on virtually every call is startling.  I never thought that there could be such a significant, noticeable difference.  I was wrong.

First, it’s a full-duplex conversation, meaning that sound can go in both directions simultaneously.  Most telephones operate in half-duplex mode.  That means that sound can only travel in one direction at a time.  If you’ve ever found yourself screaming into the phone because the other person keeps talking on and on and you’re trying to comment, but they can’t seem to hear you, you’ve experienced the joy of half-duplex.  And even if you have a full-duplex conversation through your handset, in all likelihood when you use the telephone’s speaker, you are in half-duplex mode.  (Most firms buy a Polycom or similar equipment for conference rooms in order to get a full-duplex conversation. )  Imagine having full-duplex all the time.

But the clarity isn’t just about full versus half duplex.  It’s about the elimination of noise on the line, echo-cancellation, and so forth.  This vendor is using a router which enables them to constantly monitor the quality of the connection, and make adjustments automatically.  I’m convinced that this higher quality router is a key to consistent quality.

I’m not sure that I mentioned yet who my new telephony provider is.  So let me introduce you to Alteva.  I’ll have a lot more to say in the coming weeks and months.


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