Once you decide to ditch your traditional landline for good and upgrade to a business Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system, you need to prepare for the transition. One of the big things you need to know is whether or not your current internet service can support your new system. Because VoIP relies on your existing internet connection to make and receive calls, it’s important that you have sufficient bandwidth to allow for reliable and crystal-clear calls.
But what exactly is bandwidth, and how will you know if your bandwidth is sufficient enough to handle your VoIP phone system?
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data your connection can transmit in a given time. Think of it as a freeway. With a wider freeway (higher bandwidth), more vehicles (data) can travel. For businesses, higher bandwidth is usually preferable since you can do more at the same time.
Do you have adequate bandwidth?
The amount of bandwidth you need depends on the number of concurrent VoIP calls you expect to make. Businesses that usually make and receive a number of phone calls each day (such as call centers) as well as those businesses that engage in bandwidth-intensive activities (such as collaborating on graphics, streaming content, etc.) need to secure an internet service with a higher bandwidth. However, companies that only partake in light internet activities can do with less.
To give you an idea on how many calls your bandwidth can support, please refer to the table below:
Number of Concurrent Calls Minimum Required Bandwidth
1 100 Kbps Up and Down
3 300 Kbps Up and Down
5 500 Kbps Up and Down
10 1 MBps Up and Down
One of the best ways to determine whether your internet connection is efficient and if your bandwidth is adequate is through running a Speed Test.
Things to remember
A lack of bandwidth can result in poor call quality, dropped calls, or even a system that can’t make or receive calls. However, sometimes you may not need to get additional bandwidth to improve call quality. Optimizing your Quality of Service (QoS) settings is often enough to ensure VoIP traffic receives the highest priority over other internet activities in your network. Remember: if you are suffering from poor call quality, the issue likely lies with your internet service and not the provider itself.
Various factors can affect the availability of bandwidth. These include the number of computers at the same location on the same network, the number of concurrent calls, accessing content streaming websites, malware, and others.
Streaming and downloading files typically consumes more bandwidth than VoIP calls. The average VoIP call typically consumes only 85 kbps of bandwidth, or 0.085 Mbps. Thus, if you have a 5 Mbps Internet speed, your network would be able to handle roughly 58 VoIP phone calls (but take note: this is only for connections dedicated solely to your VoIP phone system).
If you consume your internet bandwidth in its entirety or push it to its limits, you can expect latency and poor call quality. It’s recommended to limit your use up to 85% of your connection’s advertised ability.
The secret to high quality and crystal-clear VoIP calls
Your internet service (specifically, your bandwidth) is crucial to the success of your VoIP phone system. If you want to ensure high quality and crystal-clear VoIP calls, it’s important to make sure that you are subscribed to the right service. You can work with your internet service provider to ensure that your service will be able to support your VoIP calls, among other internet activities.