Overview: WiFi and network requirements for good call quality

Overview:

This article will provide an overview of the minimum WiFi and network requirements needed to achieve consistently good call quality with Spoke Phone. 

It includes the following sections:

Introduction

Spoke Phone is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling application that makes high definition quality calls over the internet (WiFi or mobile data).

Spoke Phone delivers high-quality calls when used with 4G mobile data or correctly configured WiFi/Internet. If you want to use Spoke Phone while connected to WiFi/Internet, you need to meet these requirements:

  1. High-quality, business-grade router with Quality of Service (QoS) correctly configured.
  2. Good WiFi signal strength in the locations where people typically use their phones.
  3. Good upstream/downstream internet bandwidth (fibre preferred).

Alternatively, you can use Spoke Phone on 4G mobile data by turning off the WiFi on your phone during work hours. 

Mobile data usage from calls on Spoke Phone

On average, making phone calls on Spoke Phone uses only 15MB of data per hour
of calling.

 

What is QoS and why is it necessary:

By setting up QoS (Quality of Service) on your router, Spohe Phone calls will be prioritized over other internet traffic. It's a "bus lane" for phone calls that no other traffic is allowed to enter. The bus lane is always open and flows fast. Unless you implement QoS on your WiFi/Internet, Spoke Phone cannot guarantee your call quality.

What happens if your WiFi and network are not set up correctly?

If your WiFi and network are not set up according to these requirements, your employees are likely to experience the following call-quality issues:

  • Crackling, clicking, or loud bursts of static.
  • Periods of silence during the call (audio drop-out)
  • Delays when talking or echo.
  • Calls dropping unexpectedly.
  • Answering calls and no one is there or you hear on-hold music.
  • Failures when transferring calls.
  • Missed calls due to delayed ringing/phones not ringing at all.

Minimum router requirements

Home-grade routers, or routers that you get for free from your internet provider, are usually not suitable for business phone call use. Even if you have a fast internet connection with high upstream and downstream bandwidth, other internet traffic over that connection can interfere with the continuous stream of two-way data required for high-quality calls.

To ensure consistent high-quality calls over Spoke Phone, invest in a business-grade or SOHO router and have an IT professional configure it for Spoke Phone. 

Look for a router that supports either:

  • QoS configuration by Remote IP address (preferred)
  • QoS by DSCP or WMM (not optimal)
Office size Router Examples
Smaller (3-10 people)
  • Draytek Vigor Series
  • Netcomm NF4V/NL1901/NF18
  • Trendnet AC3000
Larger (10+ people)
  • Cradlepoint
  • Ubiquiti Unifi
  • Cisco Meraki
IMPORTANT

A lot of home-grade routers say they have QoS, but they are often
referring to 
QoS for gaming, which is done at a per-device level.

These routers are unsuitable as they will not allow you to prioritize
your bandwidth for VoIP calls.

You will need to enlist the help of an IT professional to correctly configure your router.

For generic instructions, see how to configure your router for good call quality.

 

WiFi signal strength

Mobile phones typically have lower power antennas and WiFi radios compared to laptop devices.  This means that while you may experience good quality VOIP calls on your laptop, calls from your mobile phone over WiFI may be impacted even in the same location. 

How much WiFi signal strength is needed?

We recommend a Relative Signal Strength (RSSI) of -60dBm or higher (closer to zero = stronger signal) to avoid packet loss. Packet loss means the audio may drop out in your calls, causing you to miss the odd word or two.

Signal strength needs to be strong (at least -60dBm) in all the places your employees usually make and take phone calls.

Your IT support professional will need to test your signal strength throughout your office. If it is lower than -60dBm (-65dBm to -90dBm) then your IT professional will need to fix this by moving the router location, installing wireless access points or range extenders etc. 

If you want to have a go at testing the signal strength yourself, there are numerous free apps available to download from the Play Store / App Store.

 

2.4Ghz vs. 5Ghz

If you have two channels available (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz), make sure your mobile phone is always connected to the 2.4Ghz option, unless you have a clear line of sight to the router and are less than 15 feet (5 meters) away.

If you must use the 5Ghz spectrum, ensure you are less than 15 feet (5 meters) from the router, with you a clear line of sight to the router. This is necessary as walls, doors, and other building materials significantly reduce 5Ghz signal strength. 

 

Internet connection speeds

A properly configured WiFi environment with QOS and strong signal strength is much more important than fast internet speeds. 

Even so, we generally recommend Fibre internet. In some locations/instances, VDSL may work for smaller offices of 5 or so people.

As a general rule, good call quality requires the following to be consistent over the entire call duration:

Minimum internet connection speed requirements:
Download speed

at least 20mb/s

Upload speed

at least 10mb/s

Ping (latency)

less than 80ms

Jitter

less than 10

 

More Information

If you can't meet these WiFi/network requirements, and your employee's 4G mobile data is not good enough for high-quality VoIP calling, we recommend using Spoke Phone in Carrier Calling mode:

 

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