Unable to Explain Your Business’s Poor Quality VoIP Calls? Here’s Why

December 11, 2014

man talking on  headphoneYour IT department has been searching high and low for the reason why your business is experiencing poor quality VoIP calls. But it is coming up short. Your network monitoring solution, after all, indicates that your network is healthy and running at optimal speeds. But problems like jitter and latency are still causing a great deal of trouble. Why is this?

As it turns out, the problem could be that there is a much bigger disconnection between your IT department and your network infrastructure than you might think. As PathSolutions’ CTO Tim Titus explained during an Oct. 15 IAUG webinar, most engineers today know less about their network’s health and performance than their user community. This disconnect is the main reason why users call and report problems before the IT department uncovers them.

This is because most network professionals are using the wrong tools for assessing VoIP call quality, like packet capture and call simulators. While these tools are effective at confirming issues like packet loss and packet content issues, or for measuring the end user experience, they struggle with explaining why these errors occur. Their shortcoming is they task the professionals with having to find the root cause. And to make matters even more complicated, many times network problems are transient—meaning that an error-causing issue could disappear shortly after it causes the problem.

To learn more, download our white paper:  The Root-Cause of VoIP Call Quality Problems

“This is what leaves a lot of folks stuck,” Titus explained. “You have a call quality problem that happens for maybe 30 seconds and then it clears up. This is why a lot of people get stuck saying, ‘It’s just difficult to find and resolve these problems.’ Not only do you have a lot of places to look, but it’s a whole lot of work to find the root-cause of the problem.”

PathSolutions’ software solves this problem by providing continuous monitoring of every switch, router and link in the network. The software scans all interfaces for error counters and provides automatic layer one, two and three monitoring and mapping from endpoint to endpoint. When problems are found, they are reported back in plain English so that end users can spend their time fixing the issue instead of looking for the root cause.

Here are some key questions that attendees asked about PathSolutions’ software during the recent webinar:

Q: Can PathSolutions troubleshoot call quality issues with remote users working out of their homes using a smartphone or IP hardphone that is connected to the core network?

A: As Titus explained, the answer is “yes.”

“We have the unique capability of being able to test across the VPN tunnel, and we can diagnose that VPN tunnel and say ‘the problem across that tunnel is your own ISP,’” he explained. For instance, PathSolutions can pinpoint if Comcast is causing the problem and, more specifically, whether it’s coming from a specific router inside of their network that is adding latency, jitter or packet loss. PathSolutions can diagnose the problem and determine exactly where it is.

Q: Do any types of network security solutions interfere with PathSolutions’s capabilities?

A: As long as PathSolutions has SNMP access to core switches and routers, then the software can collect errors and report them. While firewalls could restrict access and prevent the software from collecting critical information, most IT departments choose to provide extra visibility by allowing SNMP access so that VoIP  professionals using the software can troubleshoot issues more easily.

Q: Can you identify where issues are coming from on a multi-leg link conference call?

A: This requires a little bit more work, as you first need to draft path maps for each connection to and from the main conferencing server that everyone is connecting to. But it can be done.

Q: What if your organization has limited resources to troubleshoot call quality and network issues?

A: PathSolutions is extremely helpful in this type of environment because of the amount of automation that it provides. In just 12 minutes, PathSolutions can show you what’s going on in your network, your half duplex connections, and the issues that are causing trouble so that you can spend your time fixing them—not searching for them.

This also makes the troubleshooting process a lot simpler. You won’t have to waste hours of your senior network engineer’s time trying to pinpoint an issue. PathSolutions can find it in just 60 seconds with the path mapper.

“This is extremely beneficial for folks without a lot of resources, as you don’t have a lot of hours to dedicate to finding the root cause of the issue,” said Titus.

You may also want to read about VoIP Assessments.

Video webinar - TotalView for VoIP in Action