How Much Bandwidth Is Required for VoIP?

One of the biggest challenges of moving your business phone system to the cloud is determining how much bandwidth is required for VoIP service.  Use our easy, step-by-step guide to calculate how much bandwidth you’ll need to make the most of a cloud-based business phone system solution.

One of the most frequently asked questions that we hear about implementing a cloud-based phone system is “how much bandwidth is required for VoIP?”

In this quick and easy guide, we’ll explain how to calculate how much bandwidth you’ll need to support a VoIP business phone system and provide valuable insights into how you can ensure high call quality.

First, let’s take a second to review the basics.  (If you’re already familiar with some of these terms and definitions, you can skip this and go directly to how to determine how much bandwidth you’ll need with your new VoIP business phone system.)

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth describes the amount of data that your Internet service can handle in a certain amount of time.  You need to make sure that your Internet service provider can offer you enough bandwidth to handle VoIP calls as well as other data that is transferred over the Internet.

How does bandwidth impact VoIP calls?

VoIP phone systems, or cloud-based phone systems, route calls over the Internet, which allows your business to make high quality calls at affordable rates.  Since these phone systems are completely dependent on the Internet, you have to make sure that you’ve allotted enough bandwidth to handle these calls.

Low bandwidth can lead to a host of problems with call quality, including jitter, delay, or even dropped calls.

Depending on your current level of Internet service, you may not need additional bandwidth, but you’ll have to check with your provider to find out.

Calculating How Much Bandwidth Is Required for VoIP

Before you try to calculate how much bandwidth you’ll need for quality VoIP service, we recommend asking yourself a few key questions:

  • What is the data upload and download speed that your ISP currently delivers?
  • What other applications or services run over your data network, and how much bandwidth do they use?
  • Does your network have Quality of Service (QoS) settings that can be optimized for VoIP?

Quality of Service (QoS) settings can be adjusted to prioritize certain types of traffic, like voice data, within your network.

The bandwidth that is required for a VoIP phone system depends on how many simultaneous calls that you’ll be making and the codec that your VoIP provider uses.

Short for coder-decoder, a codec is a program that encodes digital data (which is your voice in this case) to be transmitted over the Internet, and then decodes it for playback.

Most standard codecs require 85 – 100 kpbs of bandwidth per call.  So, if you know that you have a maximum of 10 concurrent calls at peak business hours, you’ll need 1 Mbps of bandwidth for your VoIP calls alone.

Most of the time, sufficient bandwidth is enough to ensure high call quality on your VoIP phone system.  But if you’re still experiencing problems with jitter or delay, you can adjust your Quality of Service (QoS) settings.  Most routers offer the option to prioritize certain types of traffic, such as VoIP calls, which keeps other (less time-sensitive) applications from interfering with your call quality.

If you’re not sure if your router has the feature, or have questions about how to adjust the QoS settings, be sure to contact your Internet service provider for assistance.

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