My SoftPhone Doesn't Work!

Softphone issues IMAGE

With the rise in working-from-home, many of us are now using softphones - which has lots of benefits.  Users can make and receive calls from their work number, transfer calls, conference calls, and talk as long as they want without using mobile minutes. But what many people working from home forget, is that soft phones are only as good as the WiFi and broadband they are connected to. And with demands on domestic broadband greater than ever between email, CRM systems and video, the competition for bandwidth can be fierce. 

Yet it isn't all about bandwidth. Support desks across the country are awash with complaints from users saying they have poor softphone call quality, even though they get good upload and download speeds when they run tests.

Voice is not bandwidth hungry. An uncompressed voice call only requires 100K. Poor call quality is actually due to other factors, most of which are overlooked when gleaning the internet test results.

What we should be looking at is the following:

Jitter - This affects sound quality (cropped sound) - Measured in milliseconds, jitter is the variation in packet transit delays. Jitter is significant to real-time applications because the receiver must dimension its jitter buffer based on maximum jitter, which adds delays for all packets and causes eventual loss when jitter values exceed buffer capacity. Simply put, callers will notice jitter as poor audio quality.

Packet Loss - This affects audio and call quality - Measured in percentage , packet loss is where IP packets are lost during transmission, often due to large amounts of traffic on the network. This results in poor audio quality, extraneous noise or even dropped calls.

What are the generally accepted tolerances?

  • Jitter - Should be less than 10Ms
  • Latency - Less than 150Ms
  • Packet Loss - Less than 1%

It is also worth noting that broadband is an adaptive rate technology, which means that it is constantly changing. As a result, you experience a poor quality call, if you hang up and dial straight back using the same softphone over the same connection, you will have totally different call results.

In summary, there is not a huge difference in the quality of softphones. Poor call quality and overall experience is usually due to the connection - not something your softphone provider can remedy. The ultimate solution, if possible, is to improve your broadband / WiFi connection - which for many is not beyond the realm of the possible, and should be investigated if you will be working from home regularly. 

Click here to view VTSL's Softphone Troubleshooting Guide >>

About VTSL

VTSL is a leading hosted communications technology company, providing organisations across the UK and Ireland with the solutions they need to work smarter. From integrated telephony-CRM systems, to video conferencing, to fibre connectivity and work-from-home solutions, VTSL is committed to helping companies use technology to get ahead. Find out more about VTSL's award-winning cloud business telephony system, network solutions and software integrations by emailing or giving us a call.


Topics: Products, Telecoms