Is VoIP Quality Getting Worse?

from the or-are-people-just-complaining-more? dept

People seem to have very mixed experiences with their VoIP service. Some say that it works perfectly — just like traditional phone service. Others note that it’s not quite as good, but good enough. Still others notice regular problems with the service. A new study, though, is claiming that VoIP service is getting steadily worse, based on people who test their service through the well known website. What’s odd, though, is that the company immediately declares that the reason service has gotten worse over time (if only slightly) is because the network is congested with things like video files. Of course, that’s a pretty big leap — as there are a variety of possible explanations that have nothing to do with congested networks. It could very well be network related problems — but without actual evidence it seems premature to automatically blame congestion. It could simply be that more people who are having problems have become aware of the TestYourVoip site. It could have something to do with the VoIP providers themselves. To automatically conclude it’s congestion and then announce that tiering (breaking net neutrality) is needed would seem to need a bit more support.

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Comments on “Is VoIP Quality Getting Worse?”

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FotF says:

Whats interesting here is that the site is run by Brix Net which as you ppoint out, blames video as the error and teir based access as the solution.

Brix is a communications solutions company and if you check out there investors…ho ho their VC comes in two cases, from groups which specialise in telecoms investment….mere coincidence?

Its obvious that Brix is a supporter of the tier system and is doing its own bit of FUD, to promote it.

Its sad that such things have to happen, via a back hand but then what do you expect from such.

This site is about as likely to give you an unbias result, as George B would on Arabic cuisine.

Jason says:

Vonage's 'Reaction'

I started using Vonage about 6 months ago. It was working great and after a while all the calls were staticy or just seemed to have co connection at all. There were no service faults on their end so I turned my blame to Comcast. In a way both were to blame. Vonage only gave a default bandwidth setting while Comcast couldnt seem to give that amount. Now Vonage has the option of setting your bandwidth and since fixing these settings I have had no further problems.

J says:

IT Techs are Not Telecomms Engineers!

There are several major issues with IP Telephony and Video at present. Many of these issues fundamentally are created by the humans involved with the systems, and not the systems themselves.

The writer follows up on the suggestion that congestion may be to blame. Frankly, and I have to be blunt here, that’s complete crap. Tell me, what happens when you don’t recieve the entire data frame? Ahem.

Issues really come from poor experience. The density of Asterisk and OH323 installs has increased dramatically over the past few years and this rise has not gone smoothly really. The issue is that now the VOIP is moving out of set top boxes (traditionally maintained by Telecomms engineers, in at least at the level of the underlying transport medium). Now we have software techs who treat the entire system, and bandwidth, in the same way they treat all other applications and services.

There is a big difference however, between VOIP and say, a text messaging application. Text messages can have regular latency flux of well over 1s – such things are extremely destructive to a live phonecall. Poor implementations of both bandwidth control software, and configurations, as well as a poor understanding of the underlying requirements leads to these issues. As should have also been expected, many of the services were reliable and ‘seamless’ when first installed, but an understanding of growth was not properly considered in the first installation. This may even have come from the misunderstanding that “it’s software, we can just change it when we get there”.

J says:

p.s. Not limited to personal installs

Just as I maybe didn’t make it clear, the issues I discussed are in no way limited to in-house engineers in small to medium sized businesses (of which many VIOP companies actually are I might add). The issues extend right into the service providers, and this almost suggests that good engineers are becoming increasingly hard to find. Possibly this is due to oversaturation of ‘trained’ engineers. In my opinion though, if your provider is not able to tell you WHY your service is bad in the first instance, they aren’t even worth the time it would take to say ‘goodbye’ as you put the phone down.

Jeff says:

astorturf alert.

To echo FotF – These guys make a completely unsupported conclusion from data that doesn’t even offer the data points they are drawing conclusions about and then states that this is why we need packet discrimination. If you can’t see through this transparent attempt to astroturf the anti-net neutrality cause you really shouldn’t be thinking about public policy issues at all. Fun to see that they are now trying to win over voip users, folks who have been strongly on the pro-neutrality side. One would hope that these folks, regardless of the trumped up congestion arguement, would see that net discrimination would eliminate their ability to use voip except through the nearly-as-expensive-as-pots telecom company versions.

It’s interesting to see that Cnet has taken sides in this fight, though given some of their past stories, not surprising. Still, the editors should be ashamed.

J says:

Control at teh right Point

Those involved in providing a practical balence between neutrality and reality will tell you clearly that the only links which need control are the last-mile or choke-width links. These should be consumer controlled, not carrier controlled, as clearly it is the consumers preference to have reliable comms first. Carriers prioritizing data by higher level content (IP content on MLPS links, or VOIP content on IP for example) will break proprietary communications, damage encrypted tunnel performance and so on, providing a less predictable flow where previously congestion routines would provide a best-effort ‘fair’ division. You probably all understand these issues individually and the others involved, however the point of removing all control simply creates appalling performance in many scenarios, for example small business VOIP circuits over ADSL is unworkable if maintained completely neutral, as proven by Chrono S. Trigger above, if you don’t wish to simply think about it yourself.

GL says:

Public vs. Private IP

I just cancelled my contract with Packet 8. After a year (had a contract), and many calls to their techs, they were unable to resolve issues with latency, poor sound quality etc… I just switched to Comcast and the difference is night and day. Comcast routes the voice calls over private IP which means they can prioritize the voice packets and the sound quality is much better…akin to the ILEC. I don’t know how Packet 8 and others (Vonage) can stay in business if the sound quality I received is indicative of what others get.

Mikael (user link) says:

It's very simple...

VoIP from home or over a wireless network such as your local starbucks all have the same problem: Mixing regular internet traffic with VoIP traffic. If you only use an internet connections, say in an office, for VoIP it works very well, but the second somebody starts surfing, downloading or e-mailing on the same connection VoIP data packages are delayed.

My conclusion is that VoIP is very good. The quality resemblems GSM (cell phone) quality due to compression, but don’t blame the carrier if your own internet connection is being used for other things at the same time.


Kalle Anka says:

Re: It's very simple...

In addition VoIP over IPv4 internet suffers from another problem, lack of Quality of Service(QoS) and the possibility to reserve resources on the Internet-path for the VoIP-call.

Usually ISP’s can handle this by securing over-capacity in their network but the problem is close to the user.

I’ve been waiting for IPv6 to start appearing at home-users, then VoIP could become more accepted.

Mikael says:

Re: Re: It's very simple...

Yes, Globe Dialer uses VoIP, and we only use “premium” termination.

This means we avoid all the homegrown SIM gateways and the like. Many of our customers use our service from their mobile phone (where QoS can be bad enough in some places) and we want to offer a quality user experience. So htere is realy no alternative.

Having said that, there are always going to be countries around the world, where it simply isn’t posible to get a good connections all the time.


Tashi says:

I heard something very interesting on NPR. Companies that own the pipes (like oh say Time Warner) who offer VoIP prioritize their packets. So VoIP from Time Warner gives you better quality of service over the other competition. Could that have something to do with it? If so, net neutrality is already going out the window.

And yes VoIP isn’t exactly plug-n-play. Configuring the protocols can be an issue that hinders quality.

Anonymous Coward says:

clarifications with vonage

I saw someone say they had used vonage for 6 months and that they recently allowed consumers to specify the bandwidth they use. I have been a happy vonage customer for almost three years and i adjusted my bandwidth over two years ago- it is not a new feature.

also, vonage offers a router that you should use at the front end of your network connection- it will prioritize voip traffic above all other home traffic for the internet so that downloading will not affect your voip connection.

overall, i love the service they provide and recommend them for to my friends and family. they are losing a lot of money fast and i am making some $ by being short their stock. as a customer, they offered me shares as part of the ipo. i researched it carefully, and decided to short them as soon as possible. the service is great, but the more people signup, the faster they lose money! go figure!

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