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How Much Bandwidth Is Needed for VoIP?

With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) becoming increasingly popular, more and more businesses are considering the move to this advanced and cost-effective phone service. But as these businesses replace their analog phone systems with cloud communications solutions, many are left wondering “how much bandwidth is needed for VoIP?”

Contents of this article include:

Bandwidth Needed for VoIP: A Quick Guide

In this guide, we’ll help you determine how much of your current bandwidth is needed for VoIP and discuss how you can ensure high call quality.

First, let’s cover the basics:

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the data transfer rate of your Internet service. It describes the amount of data that you can transfer over your Internet service during a specific period of time. The bandwidth you receive from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is important because you need to be able to allocate a certain amount to your VoIP service.

How Bandwidth Impacts VoIP Calls

VoIP phone systems run completely over the Internet. Because of that, your call quality is 100% dependent on the Internet service that you use. Low bandwidth can lead to poor quality calls due to slowly delivered data packets, or even a system that can’t send or receive calls.

You may not need any additional bandwidth to support high quality VoIP calls; but, you’ll have to evaluate your current Internet service in order to find out.

We recommend starting off by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. What is the data upload and download speed that your ISP delivers?
  2. Do other applications or services run on your data network? If so, how much of your available bandwidth do they use?
  3. Does your network have Quality of Service (QoS) settings that you can optimize for VoIP?*

*Quality of Service (QoS) settings allow you to prioritize certain types of traffic, such as voice, within your network.

Calculating How Much Bandwidth Is Needed for VoIP

The bandwidth needed for VoIP service really depends on how many concurrent calls you’ll be making and the codec that your VoIP provider uses.

A codec, or coder-decoder, is a device or program that is able to encode a digital data stream for transmission, and then decode it for playback.

For most standard codecs, you’ll need anywhere from 85 - 100 kpbs of bandwidth per concurrent call, as illustrated in the table below.

Calculating Bandwidth Needed for VoIP

Quality of Service and VoIP Phone Systems

In most cases, sufficient bandwidth is enough to ensure high quality voice calls on your VoIP system. If you are still experiencing problems with sound quality, you can adjust your Quality of Service settings.

Most routers allow you to prioritize voice calls on your data network, which prevents other applications from affecting the call quality. If you’re not sure whether your router has this capability, contact your Internet Service Provider for more information.

Bandwidth and High Quality VoIP Calls

Your Internet service (and bandwidth, specifically) are incredibly important to the success of your VoIP phone system. If you’re interested in making the switch to VoIP, talk to your Internet provider about your expected usage and work with them to make sure that your service can adequately handle your Internet calls.