Bandwidth Requirements for Business VoIP Systems

Anyone who has had no prior experience with VoIP phone systems or cloud communication technologies, might think that there would be huge bandwidth requirements for these kinds of systems. The thinking is that since they are cloud-based, they must consume great amounts of bandwidth.

However, in the VoIP business, bandwidth which is needed by any particular company has a direct correlation to the number of individual phone lines being used by the business. Surprisingly, VoIP phone systems for business take up far less bandwidth than you might think.

An average business phone call under VoIP will generally require 85 Kb per second of bandwidth. Internet connections having an upload speed of 10 Mb per second can easily transmit information from at least 100 phone lines under compression. This is exactly why many small businesses, as well as many growing businesses, outfit their facilities with Internet speeds of 10 Mb per second, because it’s affordable and provides adequate performance.

Bandwidth requirements get a little more complicated when additional wireless devices are also factored into the picture along with regular operations. VoIP phone lines themselves don’t really take up much bandwidth, but when there are concurrent calls or other wireless devices being used at the same time, call quality can be significantly impacted.

The more devices which there are competing for bandwidth, the more likely it is that the connections will become strained, and this can lead to a virtual bottleneck being formed which can reduce call quality. However, all these situations can easily be avoided by consulting with your VoIP provider, and identifying the optimal VoIP configuration as well as Internet requirements for your business needs.

Tips for Your Business Bandwidth

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about data use and bandwidth, which will help you make the right choices for your VoIP needs, as well as your Internet configuration. First of all, keep in mind that VoIP phone systems are not limited in the same way that analog systems used to be – you can support a limitless number of phone calls if you have sufficient bandwidth for it.

By using compression codecs, one VoIP phone call could be handled using less than 25 Kb per second of bandwidth, which means that a 10 Mb per second Internet bandwidth could theoretically handle at least 400 compressed phone calls simultaneously.

Recall that bandwidth is basically the maximum speed at which an Internet connection can send information, or which can be interpreted by the speed of your Internet service. When Internet connections have different upload and download speeds, the lower number of the two will be the maximum transmission speed which can be supported by the connection.

Far more bandwidth is consumed by a wireless device which is streaming or downloading media than is used by simple VoIP phone calls. This is also true for uploading files from any computer in your system, because uploading and downloading always consume more bandwidth than do ordinary VoIP phone calls.

How to Determine Bandwidth Needed by Your Business

Most Internet service providers (ISP’s) provide you with a maximum speed number, e.g. up to 20 Mb per second. Since the average VoIP phone call consumes .085 Mb per second bandwidth, it’s a simple matter to calculate your company’s bandwidth requirements. All you have to do is divide the maximum Internet speed by .085 (which is the uncompressed bandwidth requirement), to get an approximate number of the VoIP phone calls your system can handle.

If you had an Internet service speed of 20 Mb per second for instance, your company could handle well over 200 calls simultaneously in uncompressed mode, and even more calls if they were to be compressed, so as to use less bandwidth.

It’s a good idea to build in some buffer to your calculations rather than relying on the actual numbers provided by the calculation. The reason for this is that you simply don’t want your system to bog down if your calculations are off a little, or if there are concurrent users online doing uploading or downloading of files.

Using a Speed Test

The actual bandwidth achievable through your company’s Internet connection will probably be somewhat less than the calculated number you come up with. That makes it important for you to use a speed test in order to determine how your Internet speed matches up to those calculations, including any VoIP phone delay.

Ping speed is generally used to measure VoIP phone delay, and when ping speed is below 100 ms, you’re usually in pretty good shape. Anything above that figure may result in call latency which becomes an issue for your company’s phone call quality.

It is highly advisable to take an Internet speed test to determine how your download and upload speeds correlate to calculated numbers. By adding together the raw data plus your ping speed, you can make a fairly accurate estimation of the bandwidth which will be required by your business VoIP phone systems. You should also consult with your VoIP provider to get a clear idea on what your bandwidth requirements will be, both now and in the future.

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