The use of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is growing at a vertiginous speed. From 2010 to 2018, VoIP business lines rocketed from 6.2 million to 41.6 million in the US alone. This technology allows companies to place phone calls over an internet connection, substituting personal cell phone use for work.
Unfortunately, network jitter is a very common and frustrating issue that can ruin a VoIP call. For companies that depend on calls to secure customers or that have large call centers, it can have detrimental effects on their business reputation.
VoIP jitter is one of the main reasons for VoIP call quality issues. However, tracing and correcting it can be very intimidating. We’ve collated this guide so you can become familiar with the main causes of jitter and how to solve them.
What is network jitter?
You’ve probably experienced jitter many times but didn’t know the name for it. When you’re on a call, have you ever lost entire chunks of the conversation? Or have you struggled to understand what the other person is saying? This is network jitter.
Picture a bustling traffic jam. As much as they’d like to, the frustrated drivers can’t get to their destination. The roads are blocked. Network jitter is essentially a traffic jam caused by millions of internet connections happening at the same time.
Jitter affects any online activity that depends on real-time communication, like business calls or video conferences. Communication is a huge part of a business and should be prioritized. 93 percent of customers are likely to repurchase from a company that offers excellent customer service.
Causes of jitter
A small amount of jitter is unavoidable and shouldn’t affect your connectivity. However, more serious levels can negatively impact your connection, making phone lines bumpy and uncomfortable. In this case, you should try to identify what’s affecting your VoIP technology.
Jitter happens when several people use the same IP network at the same time, causing delays between data packets. Data packets are units of data that travel along a network path. They’re necessary for a network’s speed and reliability.
When data packets arrive at different intervals, some of them may drop. What may also happen is that each packet uses a different route to travel from the sender to the receiver. This can jumble the order in which they were sent out.
The exact reason for this can be hard to determine, but there are some things to look out for that may be interfering with your internet connection. These include an overcrowded network, bad hardware, or using Wi-Fi instead of an ethernet cable.
How to measure network jitter
Jitter measures your network delay or latency. In other words, how long it takes for data to get to its destination across the network. This is measured in milliseconds. There are various tools you can use to determine how much jitter your connection is suffering from.
Testing and troubleshooting are essential to determine what areas you need to strengthen to avoid issues during VoIP phone calls. You should also test any software and any phone or video conferencing equipment you’re going to invest in.
The first thing you should measure is bandwidth. Though network jitter is not only related to your internet speed, it can help you rule out any issues with your online connection. You can also view useful data like packet loss and latency.
To measure the exact delay time, you can conduct a ping jitter test. This test is ideal for when you only have control over one of the endpoints. This applies to any inbound or outbound calls with customers. This test works out the average round-trip time and the minimum round-trip time for a sequence of packets.
How to reduce jitter and ensure smooth VoIP phone calls
Network jitter during a phone call can result in frustrated callers that have to repeat themselves multiple times to get a simple message across. If your company depends on making phone calls, reduce jitter to avoid failed calls and secure first contact resolution.
1. Switch to a wired internet connection
As mentioned previously, using Wi-Fi rather than an ethernet cable makes your internet connection more vulnerable to glitches and jitter. It may be worth investing in a powerful cable to secure your online connection.
2. Install a jitter buffer
A jitter buffer is a device that can be installed on a VoIP system to counter delay and latency. It works by delaying incoming data packets and storing them for a short time. This ensures they arrive in the correct order. Unfortunately, a jitter buffer is not an omnipotent device and will not fully reduce connection issues. Nonetheless, it can certainly minimize latency and improve VoIP calls.
3. Enable quality of service (QoS)
One of the reasons why a network gets so congested is that while call data is trying to do its job, other data transfers are saturating the network. A way of avoiding this is by scheduling data transfers for the less busy hours of the day to make way for VoIP phones.
You can also set VoIP traffic as the highest priority. This allows more space for VoIP traffic to make its way swiftly through the network. Don’t worry – it won’t affect your download speed.
4. General measures
There are other generic measures you can start implementing now that may contribute to a network jitter reduction. Upgrading existing hardware may improve your call quality. For example, if you’ve had the same ethernet cable for a long time, you may consider getting a more advanced one. This can speed up your connection significantly.
You should also be using the best headset for conference calls. There’s no use in reducing network jitter if you don’t have a good quality microphone. Remember you’re talking directly to potential customers.
Sometimes there isn’t a single solution to a connection issue. Implementing a combination of the methods discussed in this guide can help you reduce network jitter and ensure good quality VoIP phone calls forevermore.