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Thursday, April 19, 2018
Article written by Karen Thatcher

Conducting a Voice Over IP Readiness Assessment

2005 is predicted to be the year of voice over IP (VoIP) solutions for a growing number of corporate enterprises - both large and small.

If you have been considering the benefits of implementing VoIP, you are certainly not alone. In its just-published "2005 Telecommunications Report," Harris Interactive found that 87% of business decision-makers are familiar with VoIP and, of that number, 12% currently use it in their organizations.

So what's the big attraction?

Cost mainly. But lowering company telecom expenses is just one aspect of the lure of implementing VoIP solutions. Other advantages include the potential for value-added services and the capability of more advanced features made possible through the integration of voice and data (e.g. videoconferencing, advanced voicemail features,etc.)

Sounds good, but here's the rub...it's also been estimated that up to 85% of corporate networks are simply not ready to handle VoIP.

Combining voice with data is a tricky proposition. After decades of getting used to near-perfect sound quality delivered over traditional voice networks, even the slightest delays in voip can be very annoying.

Before diving in to a full-blown VoIP solution, it is advisable that you conduct a voice over IP readiness assessment of your existing network. This assessment will provide you with two very important pieces of information:

The capability of your existing data network to deliver high-quality voip calls, and; the ability to evaluate the quality of these calls during a wide variety of traffic scenarios. Keep in mind that most data networks were not designed for VoIP, so chances are that some upgrading of your existing network will be necessary. One critical requirement for VoIP to work is QoS. (Short for Quality of Service, a networking term that specifies a guaranteed throughput level). For QoS to work, the routers and switches that manage the data traffic flow in your network must be able to prioritize VoIP data packets via QoS.

4 Steps to a Successful VoIP Readiness Assessment

1. Conduct a complete inventory of your existing network. Identify routers, switches and links in your network and store their configuration data in a database. This step is crucial before you can move to step 2.

2. Determine the current CPU, memory and bandwidth of your network devices, routers and switches. This information will give you a "baseline" of your existing network infrastructure and current capacity.

3. Simulate and compare VoIP usage scenarios to estimate the call capacity of the network.

4. Determine how well VoIP will perform on your network by measuring simulated VoIP traffic and calculating call quality based on a Mean Opinion Score (MOS).

We have recently added a VoIP bandwidth calculator tool to help you determine various codec, MOS, and bandwidth scenarios.

While VoIP can ride over the highways that your data currently does, it is a new application with new rules. A VoIP readiness assessment will give you the information you need to incorporate a VoIP solution without unnecessary hassles and expenses due to lack of proper planning and research.
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