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Do you need to invest in a VoIP router?

Does my company need to invest in a VoIP router to provide voice service? UC expert Carrie Higbie explains how a VoIP router can improve voice traffic.

You can invest in a VoIP router, but it would really depend on the number of lines your company has, how well your service is working and the requirements for your equipment. When you have several lines, your Internet connection can become a bottleneck if it isn't fast enough. Think of a bunch of cars hitting a toll lane. The toll lane, like your router's outside line, becomes that bottleneck.

Voice packets and data packets are processed the same way if you don't have a VoIP router. When you do have a VoIP router, voice packets can be processed as a higher priority than other data. For most data, having to retransmit a packet or two doesn't matter. But in voice, those retransmissions can become audible, which is not a good thing and contributes to poor voice quality.

Some voice services, like Skype, don't have priority over voice on standard routers. For instance, if you are in a hotel and use Skype to call home, those packets leave the hotel router just like an Internet search request. If you imagine the toll booth again, police cars are prioritized to go to the front of the line. In a VoIP router, the same thing happens -- the voice packets go first.

Some equipment manufacturers recommend buying a VoIP router, or at least upgrading your router if it is quality of service aware. It's important to note that just because a router has the capability, depending on its software, the ability to prioritize voice traffic may not be activated. You can find this out pretty quickly by trying to assign voice traffic higher priority. If an error message pops up or the functionality is unavailable, the router can't prioritize voice.

Finally, you need to be sure that your Internet circuit is good enough for what you are doing. A number of options exist. If the circuit's capacity is too small, it won't matter what you do with your VoIP router to speed things up.

Do you have a question for Carrie Higbie or any of our other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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