Voice over IP (VoIP) is a great way to stay connected with others, collaborate on projects and take the place of telephone communications in general. Unfortunately, it often comes at the cost of a few network resources that other systems on your network can use. If you simply can't draw down the network usage without starting an Internet fairness argument or don't want to turn off other downloads completely, consider a few aspects of network load balancing and VoIP management.
Why Would VoIP Compete With Other Usage?
Your Internet capacity--or any network capacity--is explained by bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of network resources that can be used. For example, you can have a 30mbps (megabits per second) Internet download connection or a 512kbps (kilobits per second) Internet upload connection.
When you do anything on the internet--downloads, visiting websites, talking over VoIP systems or playing online games--you're using up some of the bandwidth. (This shouldn't be confused with data plans, which are a finite amount of resources you're allowed to use up in a given amount of time.) The amount changes depending on what you're doing with the Internet and becomes free when you're doing nothing.
If you have multiple computers downloading and browsing, you may not notice much of a difference. If there's heavy competition, websites may load slower or downloads may slow down, but the information will eventually arrive. VoIP and other streaming systems are not so convenient.
VoIP and streaming content are transferred in real time. Websites and download information can be sent again to create the final product, but talking over the Internet doesn't work that way. It isn't a question of asking the other person to say something again; as you talk, little bits and pieces of that data that represents your voice can be lost, resulting in what's considered a digitized or robotic voice sounds.
With video, you may lose a few blocks of the image in the form of black, green, yellow or red blocks--an issue many people may recognize in digital television. It's the same loss of information.
Load Balancing Is The Answer
In order to reduce loss from any task and make the network more efficient, load balancing can be designed by a VoIP technician.
Load balancing is the process of either giving priority to a specific device or task or equalizing resources amongst all devices. If you want all users on a system to have an equal share of the network, a system of percentage can be put in place to keep every device in check.
It's recommended to give VoIP priority over other systems. VoIP does not take as much bandwidth as starting a download or streaming a movie or song, but can suffer more noticeably if left at the mercy of those tasks. Giving VoIP connection priority will give it free reign of the network but won't amount to enough usage to slow down other processes as long as your download and upload speeds are adequate--a measurement best left to the VoIP technician.
Get in contact with a VoIP technician to begin preparing your network for quality VoIP calls without jeopardizing the rest of your Internet tasks.