How and when optimizing VoIP over LTE can improve your network

Ken Tucker

Four advantages of prioritizing voice traffic on an LTE network

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), when used over LTE, can offer significant benefits to your network — and your business. Optimizing VoIP over LTE can help your employees, customers, and IT teams focus on the work at hand instead of the mechanics behind it.

Necessary Network Conditions

To successfully utilize VoIP over LTE, your overall network conditions must meet several basic quality thresholds. The key factors to look for when assessing your network quality are low latency, low jitter, and low packet loss.

Low Latency: “Latency” is how long it takes voice data — often referred to as “packets” — to go from their original source to their intended destination. For VoIP calls, this round trip process should take fewer than 100 milliseconds. If the delay is too long, the phone call will have pauses while the packets travel over the network and the other person hears the voice; the employee will then have to wait for the response to come back. People often will talk over each other when this occurs, which disrupts the quality of the phone call, as well as the quality of the services your company is trying to provide.

Low Jitter: “Jitter” refers to the variance in packet delay. If a high volume of voice data packets hit the router at the same time, followed by a pause, and then followed again by more voice packets, it requires the external destination to buffer the data as they arrive (instead of absorbing them as a continuous stream).

If your network has high jitter, the call quality will be affected in ways that result in issues such as garbling.

Low Packet Loss: “Low packet loss” refers to minimal (to no) packets of data being dropped as they travel across the network. Packet loss can occur if the packets are significantly delayed while traversing the network, or if they arrive out of order. Low packet loss helps prevent poor call quality or even dropped calls.

How to Optimize VoIP Over LTE

Assuming your network conditions are suitable, there are a few simple steps you can take to initially optimize VoIP over LTE. If your company is planning on using (or improving on) this system, you’ll need to ensure your business is indeed on LTE and not 3G. You’ll also need to:

  • Make sure you have a strong, clean signal without interference.
  • Know where your phones are located on your network so you can prioritize your voice and data traffic.
  • Set up Quality of Service (QoS) rules within the router (thereby making sure voice calls are always given the highest priority when exiting the network).
  • Limit the number of simultaneous calls so as to not overwhelm the capacity of your connection.

For some industries — such as a tech support call center or a large outbound-dialing sales department — VoIP over LTE likely is not an ideal solution (at least, not with today’s technologies). However, for a small-business environment, optimizing VoIP over LTE can provide some distinct advantages.

Advantages of Optimizing VoIP Over LTE

#1: Prioritizing Voice Data Over Other Data. If an email is delayed by one second, no one really notices. But if a VoIP packet is delayed by that long, it can greatly interrupt a phone call. Traffic identification and prioritization make the distinction between voice data and other data — and how your WAN router should handle each type.

This process, also known as traffic shaping, helps ensure that outgoing traffic is segmented appropriately and that VoIP data is always ushered to the front of the line.

#2: A One-Device Solution. With LTE, customers can install and utilize a single Cradlepoint router that provides multiple functions: primary connectivity, firewall and security services along with failover. Your business can save money and time by having a single-box solution, as IT staff can manage one device for all productivity options, and the router can even be installed in a mobile or remote location.

For example, an insurance company that needs to respond to disaster situations can have an entire mobile office on wheels. This mobile office requires both data and VoIP connections to process claims and calls, and it needs to be able to relocate as needed. Wired connectivity may not even be an option, given the extent of the disaster. Additionally, voice and data are both considered critical, as people need to contact the insurance company, provide information, have their claims processed, and begin rebuilding their lives as soon as possible. VoIP over an LTE network helps ensure the insurance company is not hindered by voice and data connectivity issues during the times it matters most.

#3: Carrier Independence. Companies are not tied a single carrier’s network solution. VoIP on an LTE network allows you to utilize the best carrier’s solution in the area or region where you operate.  You can mix and match carriers as needed to provide the best coverage.

#4: Failover as True Redundancy. For many companies that rely on wired connections, such as a retail shop in a mall, it’s likely that service will be disrupted in some way or another because of the physical connection being broken (from a nearby construction worker accidentally cutting a cable line, for example). When this occurs, LTE automatically provides redundancy as a failover connection; that’s a general benefit that comes with using LTE as a failover mechanism.

For a small retail shop specifically, however, VoIP over LTE can make a significant difference in ensuring business can proceed as usual. Phone calls and point of sale (POS) terminals can automatically be prioritized and maintained as mission-critical, whereas other services, such as customer WiFi, can be deactivated until the primary connection has been repaired.

On-Demand Webinar: ‘VoIP on an LTE Network’

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn the best practices and considerations for deploying VoIP on an LTE network.

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