Most of us have experienced the poor call quality that comes from a poorly managed IP phone system. At best, you may hear an echo. At worst, the call will be so choppy and garbled that you cannot understand what the other person is saying. These kinds of problems can be prevented with a well-engineered system and ongoing monitoring and management.

With an IP phone system, calls are digitally encoded and broken up into packets that are sent over the data network. That’s one of the primary advantages of Voice over IP (VoIP) — you have just one network to maintain for telephony and other applications. However, the voice data packets take various routes over the network, and may arrive out of order or not be delivered at all. These issues are described using the following terms:

  • Latency is the delay of the speaker’s voice getting to the listener’s ear.
  • Jitter is delay that’s unpredictable, making it hard to understand the speaker.
  • Packet loss means that some voice data packets never arrive, making the call extremely garbled.

The IP phone system and network must work together to ensure proper delivery of voice data packets, a concept known as Quality of Service (QoS). Obviously, the network should be engineered from the ground up to support VoIP traffic and prioritize voice calls. However, no network is static. New applications and users are constantly being added. That’s why it’s critical to monitor the network and VoIP system to ensure optimal performance and troubleshoot any problems that arise.

Some organizations have tools that monitor various components of the IT infrastructure. However, the stringent requirements of voice demand a specialized monitoring solution. Deploying such a solution in-house would require a capital investment and a major effort to install and configure it. Once the system is deployed, the in-house IT team would also be responsible for using it.

That’s why it makes sense to outsource network monitoring to a managed services provide (MSP) such as IPC. We have already made investments in state-of-the-art tools, and have an experienced team who can monitor your network remotely around-the-clock. Our systems collect a wealth of information from your phone system and other devices and applications, enabling us to analyze a host of factors that can affect call quality. We can view all of this information through one management interface, and set thresholds based upon your business requirements.

If a problem arises, our monitoring tools help us to pinpoint the source of the issue so we can address it quickly. We can also generate reports that enable us to spot trends and evaluate the overall condition of your network and IT environment.

When evaluating MSPs, ask about their remote monitoring capabilities and whether they have the tools and expertise needed to support your IP phone system. Ask for samples of their reports to get a feel for the work they do behind the scenes.

At IPC, we manage and support more than 120,000 devices, including 55,000 ShoreTel endpoints, through our Network Operations Center. We’d be happy to show you our remote monitoring tools and explain how we put them to work. Our goal is to help ensure the health and performance of your IP communications platform and your IT environment as a whole.