Have you ever taken a subway during its peak hours? How about late in the evening? During the morning and evening rush hours, you can barely get in, let alone grab a sit in a subway car. Late in the evening, however, when no one is there you can sit wherever you please. The same concept applies to your network. When the traffic is light, data zooms right to its destination. But when demand is high and traffic is congested, everything slows down, including your VoIP calls.
A typical router uses the FIFO (first in, first out) method of processing your data. This, as you can imagine, creates bottlenecks when there is too much incoming and outgoing data fighting for the limited bandwidth. If you are using VoIP and have a router that has good Quality of Service (QoS) technology, it will enable you to gain better control of the situation by choosing which types of data should be given priority in case of insufficient bandwidth and ensure high quality VoIP service.
In the most basic terms, QoS refers to the overall performance of a network or a VoIP system. This performance is typically measured by end user reviews, error rates, transmission delays, etc. In more technical terms, QoS is the capability of a network to manage its bandwidth and prioritize network traffic. It tackles issues like latency (when a packet is delayed crossing the network connection), packet loss (the cases when a packet actually gets lost in a router), and jitter (the variation of data flow and packet delivery) among others.
The way QoS works is that it organizes your traffic by queuing your packets – by allowing high priority packets proceed first and delaying ones with lower priority.
How can VoIP QoS benefit your business?
QoS will give your business just that – quality of service. Every company is different in terms of not only the nature of its main business activity but also the processes it follows. As such, networks in every company are used for different purposes. QoS gives you the invaluable option of customizing your priorities when it comes to your traffic. It will give you the peace of mind that the critical applications on your network are allotted maximum priority and are performing up to par with your standards. This way, you will dodge the dreaded experience of network glitches, lags, and dropped calls and avoid losing frustrated customers as a result.
Another major advantage of QoS is that it will enable your network administrators to make the best use of the available resources instead of making costly enhancements or expansions to the network. The patterns of network utilization are changing from year to year, with video traffic volume increasing manifolds. This high demand for more bandwidth contributes even more to network congestion. Instead of throwing in more bandwidth, why not opt for maximal use of the one you have? By ensuring the prompt delivery of those applications that are critical for your business, QoS will help you make an optimal use of your company network.
Types of QoS
There are different approaches to QoS. With traditional QoS, one way is to identify the traffic that you want to manage and assign it a priority – high, medium, or low. Another way is choosing specific applications or even the specific ports those applications use to reach the internet. Also, it is possible to assign priorities to devices from specific IP or MAC addresses. The downside of traditional QoS routers is that they require considerable amount of knowledge of protocols, details about the way your routes operates, etc. Some even require you to inform them of the maximum download and upload speeds that your ISP supports. If you make an error in your configurations, you risk having your network perform even worse than it was before.
Fortunately, though, there are QoS routers that are much easier to configure – intelligent QoS. Most of the recent models adhere to the Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) standard, which prioritizes traffic into four categories – voice, video, best effort (this refers to traffic other than voice and video), and background (file downloads, print jobs, and other traffic that is not latency-sensitive). The problem with this type of routers is that it only improves wireless network connection and does nothing for the clients who have wired networks.
Ultimately, the difference between the different types of QoS routers comes down to their process power and the quality of the algorithm that they use.
If you are looking to switch to a VoIP system or make updates to your existing one, one of the main factors that you will need to take into account is QoS. If you have a router with good Quality of Service, it can help you avoid uneven distribution of your network resources.