Market musings

Can Your Phone System Handle the Next Generation of VoIP?

by Sasha Viasasha
February 6, 2018

VoIP was an incredible advance in telecom a quarter of a century ago. The tech has matured over the decades since and now VoIP has surpassed PSTN to become the most used form of telephony in many parts of the world. As adoption rates for the next generation of VoIP gains acceptance, not all VoIP providers are ready to evolve along with it yet. Meanwhile, the demands of a more mobile workforce are putting new pressures on businesses.

VoIP adoption rates vary greatly by country, region and business size. For example, Eastern Europe and Latin American have taken the lead recently with the fastest growth in VoIP deployments while China led Asia Pacific to take first place with the largest number of VoIP users. In Australia, 19% of small businesses and 57% of medium-sized businesses relied on VoIP to stay in touch during 2017. 

Over the past few years, a new evolution of the tech has evolved due to customer demand. The next generation of VoIP is HDVoice, aka “wideband audio,” which concentrates on strengthening what has traditionally been one of VoIP’s biggest weak spots before now – voice quality. Latency, jitter and echo can compromise a company's reputation because customers expect a successful business to offer a clear, uninterrupted channel for communication. 

HDVoice enhances VoIP call quality by expanding the range of pitches that callers can hear on the call from low to high and volumes from soft to loud. It’s built with advanced tech, such as Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate coding (WB-AMR) or Variable-Rate Multimode Wideband (VMR-WB), that gives voice compression a more natural sound quality while suppressing interference from background noise.

The good news for businesses of all sizes is that many of them can access the power of HDVoice without adding new services or hardware. A study by Sensis revealed that in 2017, 79% of small businesses and 85% of medium-sized businesses in Australia were using smartphones to access the internet for business purposes.

A smartphone with a virtual PBX deployed across your mobile network is all you need to access the latest technology for high quality voice interactions.

For now, HDVoice is not interoperable, meaning that callers at both ends must have HD-compatible handsets and a phone service that supports HDVoice in order for you to enjoy this level of service.  

In addition, the quality of calls for both basic VoIP and advanced HDVoice will be impacted by the underlying strength of your Internet service connection, which may be delivered across hard-wired routers, Wi-Fi or cellular networks. 

How you can improve call quality

To makes sure you can access high quality HDVoice calls on your smartphone, you will need high speed Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE data connection. In some instances, 3G data can support phone calls depending on the coverage by your provider and a location free from interference. In 2018, 5G will begin testing in select cities, eventually bringing much greater speed, bandwidth and data carrying capabilities to smartphone owners everywhere.

However, it’s important to understand that just great signal strength or Wi-Fi connection on your phone alone doesn’t always translate into a perfect call. The intensity of network traffic on your provider’s servers will impact call quality as well.

To know how many concurrent VoIP calls you can make at once, first test your upload speed. Generally, for each 1 Mbps of download speed, your system can handle about 2 active lines at once. For 5 Mbps, it's closer to 11 calls at once that your network can handle before call quality degrades too much.

Better calls on the road 

If you are on the go, especially in an urban environment, you could have difficulty getting a clear voice quality call due to “contention” or heavy use of the local cell tower. If you are in a car or near a number of Wi-Fi hotspots, call quality can suffer as your phone cycles through pings against nearby Wi-FI connections.

Traffic that is too heavy for the connection is the primary cause of spotty call quality, it’s also critical for a business to install a professional Wi-Fi router rather than one built for consumer use. Signal boosters and dead zone locators can help you cover your central workspace with adequate bandwidth for better calls.

Another piece of the puzzle is a software defined network (SD-LAN or SD-WAN) that can helps you prioritize VoIP calls over other types of traffic going across your network every day.

In short, you can greatly improve your VoIP call quality:

  1. Secure the fastest speeds and widest bandwidth you can afford. 
  2. Install SD-LAN, SD-WAN or similar technology to prioritizes VoIP calls, broadly known as Quality of Service (QoS) solutions.
  3. Use commercial grade routers and access points.
  4. Select HDVoice services when calling on your smartphone.

The new role of smartphones in the mobile global world

Staying connected while staying mobile is the key to success for the modern business. The smartphone is replacing the laptop as the essential business tool for the new mobile workforce. 

Deloitte’s 2017 mobility report found that smartphones are becoming an essential tool for the modern worker and not just in Australia. Of the 67% of global mobile users who use their smartphones at work, 48% are checking email, 47% are making business calls, and 29% manage their calendars on their smartphones. 

Those are the most popular activities, but 9% are using their smartphones to jump on the company intranet, 7% are submitting their timesheets and 5% are completing expense reports.  The percentages vary considerably based on their work roles and how much time they spend in the field. 

Deloitte reported that all of these numbers are rising sharply as smartphone processors are accelerating and apps are becoming more intelligent.

Businesses everywhere are looking for original strategies for dropping business expenses, giving workers the freedom to be more productive, and winning their markets with a better customer experience. 

Spoke Phone can do all three with one simple solution. We've created a 100% mobile virtual phone system that puts the most requested features of a professional PBX system on your smartphones.

No extra hardware to install, no IT required, no capital investments to soak up cashflow. Just a collection of business essentials like an easy mobile-to-mobile transfers, an always updated company directory, a multilingual AI autoattendant, auto-geo-routing to find available teams, free international calling within teams, and DDIs with local numbers in 53 countries.

Spoke gives you to power to take your business out of the office with high quality HDVoice and productivity-enhancing features so your team can get more calls made and answered. Contact us for your own interactive demo of Spoke's global mobile solution. 

Selecting and Implementing a Business Phone System