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Voice over IP Telephony August 21, 2008

Filed under: Everything — Jason Olson @ 2:37 pm

Many people have tried and failed at Voice-over IP Telephony. With the excellent marketing efforts to bring this new technology into the everyday consumer market, many people have not only heard about VoIP, but they’ve actually tried it. Going beyond the hype of free internet calls, we’ve seen companies such as Comcast providing their own service, Comcast Digital Voice; which was a reaction to the growing popularity of third party service providers such as Vontage.

Many people have been trying Vontage, as a paid-for-service model, was well as other people using free services such as Skype. Also there is a plethora of hardware that has become available for this market. From hard phones to digital PBX systems and proxy servers.

However, the largest problem seen by the end user is reliability issues. The service works great for some, and not for others. The problem lies in that it is a very complicated set of ttechnologies which have become available to your average computer geek. If you were to take a PRI based Digital Hybrid PBX system, and make the ddocumentations freely available on the internet, the geeks would likely screw that up as well.

Most modern day VoIP solutions focus around the SIP protocol which is what enables voice traffic to traverse the open internet – thus providing the ccapabilities for free phone calls. Infact, two SIP based phones with public IP addresses can call each other by their public IP addresses for free, right over the internet.

However, like any other technology, the system hinge’s on the weakest link. There are two common weak places in the VoIP realm. The first is the knowledge base of the “geek” – their ability to properly configure the system. The second is a problem that even seasoned installers encounter. That is the famed ‘QoS’ or quality of service. In the area of TCP/IP, it revolves around the priority voice traffic is given over other types of traffic from end-to-end. This starts in your internal home or office network, and then needs to extend all the way to the end point.

I often see internal network problems which prevent proper QoS inside your network – utilizing cheep “unmanaged’ switches or hubs instead of a switch that will give your voice traffic the priority it needs. The funny thing is that voice traffic is so small if it does take priority from Napster or YouTube, you probably wouldn’t notice it; yet if they take rank over your voice traffic, you will certainly notice the problem on your voice quality.

The second area of QoS which most people fail at is that their internet service provider does not ensure QoS from your network to your SIP Service provider’s network – that is where your SIP call terminated into a traditional phone line to call other people. Your internet provider doesn’t pay attention to the type of traffic going over the network, so they simply let whatever screams for the most bandwitdth have it… So your voice traffic may get trampled upon. The extent that your voice traffic has problems varies from customer to customer.

For those reasons above, companies like Vontage and Skype have had variable success in homes — some people love it and it works great, others it is a nightmare from day one.

To solve this problem, welcome cBeyond to the picture. They are growing leaps and bounds in many markets, leading with SIP (yet still providing basic analog and PRI circuits) to small businesses. What makes cBeyond different is that they partner with SIP vendors to ensure that their specific implementation of SIP works with their networks, and many of those vendors have authorization programs which ensure the installer knows what they’re doing and is not simply a computer geek.

Going a step further, since they provide both the internet circuit and the SIP service, they are going to guarantee your voice packets receive the priority they deserve on the internet — actually your voice traffic never hits the internet, it stays within their network ensuring 100% priority over any other traffic.

Their service has recently opened up in the Silicon Valley as their 11 metropolitan location (why did it take them so long to get out here?). But we’re exited that they are here! Next time you’re considering VoIP, talk to cBeyond!


One Response to “Voice over IP Telephony”

  1. Scott Says:

    Great post! Cbeyond is very happy to be here.

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