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Jitter demystified

Learn what jitter is and how it relates to VoIP in this expert reply.

What is jitter and how can I use it for testing network readiness?
Jitter is a hurdle for voice quality. Variations in packet delay cause packets to be received in sporadic patterns or out of order. When VoIP is run on a congested network with bursty traffic, jitter will be harder to compensate for at sending and receiving stations.

Voice traffic is buffered at the receiving end to help compensate for jitter. In effect, the conversation is stored until enough of the transmission is in memory to play for the receiver. TCP/IP delivers packets based on several routing algorithms. In order for VoIP to work properly, special attention must be paid to not only the paths that the packets take, but also the capacity and health of the network.

Excessive jitter makes a conversation undecipherable. New layer 3 switches offer relief as they are able to understand prioritization. Also the new SIP protocol sets up a "virtual" path to help all packets travel the same route to assist with reassembly.

You should download the whitepaper "VoIP - Is your Infrastructure Ready?" from www.siemon.com/us/white_papers/03-10-29-voip.asp . It explains all of the key terms, the technologies and how to check for network readiness. You may also want to get help from a certified infrastructure auditor.

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