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What tools are necessary for UC network diagnostics?

When UC apps -- such as voice and video -- create network disruptions, organizations should know what network diagnostic tools are needed to resolve issues.

Unified communications network diagnostics are very similar to traditional network diagnostics.

Regular network packets retransmit when there's a problem with a transmission. The problem, though, with UC and video is retransmissions become audible and visible. To start down the UC network troubleshooting path, first determine where the problem lies.

If there is no signal, either the cable or hardware is bad. If the link is slow, it's helpful to have the diagnostic statistics from the Simple Network Management Protocol or another network diagnostics tool. These tools will determine if there are dropped packets or retransmissions, as either UC network issue can be caused by a bad cable or faulty electronics.

A cable tester can determine if the cable is operating to the required standard. If not, replace the cable. Start with the patch cords. If the problem persists, change the whole cable or use a different one that does test out. Keep in mind: Older cables can suffer from moves, adds and changes, as well as from the environment.

If the cable tests to the required speed, then the problem is likely in the electronics. There could be a mismatch of speed in the auto-negotiation, but it could also be a software setting issue. If there are several retransmissions, then the problem could be network congestion or hardware that needs to be replaced.

If the entire switch is fine and just one port is throwing errors, then the problem is likely the switch port or network interface card. The switch port is pretty easy to diagnose by moving the cable to another port. If that doesn't fix the issue, then check the network interface card.  

Most network diagnostic tools provide a lot of information. But keep in mind: As you monitor the UC network, you are adding some latency and can affect the throughput just by monitoring. If UC network problems persist, the voice network can be separated from the data network. Network monitoring tools can also be rented.

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

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