Voice over IP calls can sound just as good as a traditional phone calls if you choose your codec with care.
As we reported recently, the NBN has introduced enhancement for businesses that allow you to have several voice lines coming into your business, each setup to ensure maximum bandwidth for the calls.
But what if you don't have the NBN? If you've tried cheap consumer-grade VoIP it might have sounded like a scratchy mobile phone call, but you can improve it by changing the codec you use to squeeze your voice across the internet. Your choice of codec is restricted to those supported by your hardware and your VoIP provider.
By default many consumer-grade VoIP services use the G.729 codec which chews through roughly 8 kilobits per second. This low bandwidth requirement can make G.729 a good choice for home internet connections but unfortunately it can leave you sounding like you're on a dodgy mobile call.
Switching to higher quality
Switching to the G.711 codec can significantly improve your voice quality, helping business users sound more professional. It's important to note that G.711 chews through 64 kilobits per second, which means each call uses up more data. You'll also need a faster internet connection to support multiple simultaneous calls. Allowing for overheads, you should allow at least 85 kbps per call using G.711.
There's more to VoIP call quality than just the codec. You'll also want to keep an eye on latency, as your calls can get choppy if the latency of your internet connection blows out beyond 150 milliseconds.
Quality of Service is another important factor, giving your voice traffic priority over your other internet traffic. If your VoIP adaptor isn't built into your broadband modem then you might need to manually configure your modem to give priority to your VoIP traffic. If your Internet Service Provider is also your VoIP provider then you might be able to employ Quality of Service all the way back to your ISP.
If this is all sounding a bit too technical, these are things you can ask your Internet/VOIP provider to help you with.