17 Comments

Summary:

Brix Networks, a company that develops monitoring tools for VoIP says that the quality of VoIP calls is getting worse. The company maintains a website called, TestYourVoIP.com, and in a study published today the company said that nearly 20% of VoIP calls have unacceptable quality. That […]

Brix Networks, a company that develops monitoring tools for VoIP says that the quality of VoIP calls is getting worse. The company maintains a website called, TestYourVoIP.com, and in a study published today the company said that nearly 20% of VoIP calls have unacceptable quality. That is up from 15% of all test calls a year ago.

I think the problem actually might be bigger. A lot of my friends who call me on Vonage for instance sound as if they are calling from a different planet. A lot of these problems are due to bandwidth constraints on the networks. Trying watching You Tube videos and talking over a VoIP phone and you experience the downshift in quality first hand. This alone should be a reason to a pipe with faster connection, and carriers could easily up sell premium services to their customers.

“The network is ready for VoIP. But now that there are more services running over the same pipe, carriers need to differentiate packets and prioritize service,” Kaynam Hedayat, chief technology officer for Brix tells C/Net News.com. (Okay that made me wonder who paid for the service!) It is not just the VoIP calls to the consumer home which are sounding bad. If you have ever made international long distance calls, you can experience the degraded quality first hand. Those calls, many of them originating from incumbent phone systems, also travel over an IP network.

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  1. Keith L. Dick Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Captain!…

    What’s wrong Scotty???…

    I dunno, seems the more we overtake the “Plumbing” the worse everything gets…

    Doh!…

  2. Do you think

    a) it’s a change in the quality of the service?

    b) that the pipes aren’t big enough? or . . .

    c) the Telecoms are purposefully degrading the quality of the call?

    I’m betting it’s probably C as they own the Internet Backbone. What’s your bet?

  3. The irony of the situation is, that factually, VoIP is a low-bandwidth application.

    I would say it is the overall lack of QoS that is part of the IP/Internet world that makes VoIP break even on networks that are almost ten time as capacitative than what they used to be a few years ago.

    Thanks to p2p and general absence of applied IP Qos, every VoIP call will remain a blind date for most of us.

    Tariq Mustafa

  4. Chris Seilern Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    This is just too much fluff to just sit here and say nothing.

    Voice bandwidth is measured in kilobits per second. Almost all broadband upstream is measured in HUNDREDS of kilobits per second. There should be NO issue with voice quality. Period.

    Even taking on board max contention rates, the actual likelihood of voice quality degradation in a VOIP on broadband environment should be virtually 0.

    If there is degradation, it is because someone is protecting a legacy Voice revenue stream somewhere (read: traffic shaping, throttling).

    And for GigaOM to write about voice degradation as if it were a burden valiantly managed by the heroes who own the networks is a pure distortion. Network owners are there to make money, not to allow end users to run free VOIP apps, and GigaOM should be enough of a critic to know this and not to promote a Network centric view under the guise of independent opinion.

    This will all end badly and as much as network owners want to control what goes on their network, the genie is out of the bottle and end users will eventually run what they want. Don’t believe me? see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrentprotocolencryption
    to see what Bittorrent is doing to prevent throttling and traffic shaping.

  5. The Internet is not a truck, remember?

  6. While I recognise lack of clarity on Vonage very few times, I see no issue if I am talking on Skype. I guess then, some thing to do with Vonage than mere lack of bandwidth on the network or Skype is lot better than Vonage in transmitting voice at low bandwidth.

  7. bluechihuahua Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    that’s piece makes me giggle–it just sounds like ANOTHER rotten trickle for Vonage (VG). stock closed 6.92 last night–losing 59.3% off the $17 IPO issue, and that was 2 months ago. as for options, maybe the specialist will finally add the 2.5 level.

  8. It’s the tubes!!!

    On a serious note, however, I thought your post was really interesting. I’ve wondered about my Skype connection recently because of increased difficulty in getting the same crystal-clear connections I was getting a year ago.

    A widespread problem perhaps?

  9. Some problems are inherent in the network. You can’t overcome a cetain level of latency. However, Vonage and others who don’t use Global IP Sound are not maximizing their QoS. GIPS is a necessary component in any IP voice service.

  10. For years I’ve been quite happy with the sound quality of Vonage, in fact it was far better than POTS. What I am experincing now is a problem when the call is between different VOIP services:

    Vonage to Lingo,
    Skype to US phone number when it’s VOIP …etc.

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