Readying Your Network for Phonebooth

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If you ordered Phonebooth OnDemand, you have the ability to take incoming calls and make outgoing calls utilizing your local area network (LAN) and your Internet connection. Voice service can sound great and be very reliable over the Internet, but it does takes a bit of forethought.

Internet Access Planning

When planning the size and type of Internet connection you should have, there are a few things to consider.

How to understand your office's bandwidth requirements

Since Internet voice service is going to add to this requirement, it is important to understand what the current Internet requirements are before adding Internet voice. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Have a network technician install a network monitor in your office for a minimum of a week. The is should be long enough to get a complete understanding of your peak usage requirements.
  • Check your router network to see if it can give usage data. Remember the peak usage is key. 
  • You will want to look at the peak usage as an inbound number and an outbound number. These should always be kept separate.
  • Try this tool to help you understand your current connection: http://www.speedtest.net/
How much VoIP utilization will the Phonebooth service add?

This is directly related to how many calls will happen at the same time, which is known as concurrency. There is a very simple equation to help plan your requirements around:

  • CC X 85 = Budget (# of Concurrent Calls X 85 Kbps = the total Kbps you should budget for the Phonebooth VoIP service)
    • Basically take the amount of calls you may have at any one time and multiply by 85 for the total you will need.
  • Internet voice service is always in both directions so keep in mind that the inbound and outbound calculations are the same.

Add it up

Finally to understand the total circuit utilization requirements, you will need to add together the Current Peak Usage Requirements and the VoIP Utilization Requirements.

Example: 
Customer A - is a small software development company who has 5 employees using about 300 Kbps of peak download utilization for their current Internet usage and a peak of 150 Kbps of upload. They fully expect to have as much as 3 people on the phone at any given time (3 x 85 = 255 Kbps). Their total download requirement is 555 Kbps of utilization and their total upload requirement is 405 Kbps. They are currently using a Business Class DSL connection with 3 Mbps download and 512 kbps upload. Will this work for them? It should, but remember the goal is overwhelming bandwidth to squash any quality issue so this customer could have issues with the Upload. If the upload is an issue, the complain is usually from people outside the system that have quality issues while listening

Now that you have gathered your data requirements and voice requirements and added them together, do not forget to add in any future growth projections to the mix as well before settling on your final requirements. Adding some padding is also a very good idea.

 

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What are the different types of Internet connections?

Phonebooth OnDemand is a VoIP service and he quality of your voice conversation is directly related to the quality of your Internet connection. We do not do anything to hamper good quality voice.

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service is a way for telephone companies to deliver high speed broadband access to their customers over their already existing copper phone lines. While you can get business-class DSL, this connection type does have some major draw-backs.

  • Usually there are reduced upload speeds, which are capped at about 512k. This is not useful for most companies that have more than 2 to 3 employees.
  • DSL is very susceptible to copper deterioration and distance issues.
  • Our recommendation is that DSL should only be used for very small offices or home offices.

Cable

Cable Internet is provided by cable companies. It is usually offered in both residential and business versions. The speeds can be much better than DSL with several carriers offering 5Mb download and 2 to 5Mb upload speeds. The main challenge with cable Internet is that the bandwidth is shared with people in your immediate area. This could cause some spotty quality issues, but most of the time, it should work fine. We recommend this business-class cable for offices ranging from 1 to approximately 20 users.

Satellite Internet

This type of Internet connection is provided over satellite, usual to rural areas. Due to extreme high delay (latency) of upload, we do not recommend using satellite Internet for Phonebooth. It is known to cause audio issues.

Dedicated Internet Access (DIA)

Usually provided by a telecommunications carrier, a T-1, NxT-1 or T-3 is a dedicated Internet connection made for businesses. The speed is the same in both directions (upload and download) ranging from 1.5Mb to 45Mb. This type of connection is not usually shared and is also backed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and guarantees. The only downside is that these connections can be quite expensive. This is the recommended type of connection to use with Phonebooth.

Wireless Providers

While wireless Internet is becoming very popular, it is still not consistent enough to be viable for business voice service. We have seen numerous customers try to use this type of connection without success. We do not recommend using this type of connection.

 

Note - To satisfy reliability requirements, make sure you only buy business-class Internet access. There are quite a few differences in a business service as opposed to a residential service. Business service typically has better support, Service Level Agreements (SLA) and equipment.

 

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Local Area Network (LAN) Planning

Not all routers and networks are created equal.

 Wireless Vs. Wired Office Network

The issue with a wireless network is that it can cause higher delay and packetloss when compared to a Wired office network. We strongly suggest a wired network. If you choose to use a wireless network, just be prepared for some degradation is service, how much is hard to say.

Should I share my Internet connection with data & voice?

Should you have one Internet connection and share Internet use and voice or have a connection for each one? The main argument here is price. If you can afford to separate the traffic, you should. Here are some options bellow:

If you choose not to share:

Physical Separation - This is where you have two completely separate networks for voice and data. You will need to have a separate Internet connection for both services separate Router, Switches and wires to the phones. This can be very challenging if you do not have the proper Ethernet cabling to support separate PC and phone cabling.

Virtual Separation - By employing VLANs on your switch, you can virtually separate your network. This does not require separate cabling, but will require more capable LAN switches and a skilled technical person.

The poorman's version of separation - This method allows a small office to have their computers on wireless connection and their phones on the wired Ethernet cabling. This is another way to separate the traffic; however, it does require two routers but not dual Ethernet drops.

If you do share your voice and data over one Internet connection:

Overwhelming Bandwidth - The least expensive and most common way to share a single Internet connection with Data and Voice is to make sure you have much more good quality bandwidth available than you need. The rule of thumb is that you want to average about 40% utilization of your circuit.

Traffic Shaping - Traffic shaping is a method whereby your Internet router slows down the Data traffic on your network to make sure that the voice traffic always has priority. This will require a capable router and a even more capable technician to setup, but it can be worth it.

 What Routers Work Best with Phonebooth OnDemand?

The router used to terminate Internet circuits can be a major determining factor as to whether VoIP quality will be good or bad. The choice for a non-business consumer is pretty easy - base it on simplicity and price. For businesses, on the other hand, requirements are not as simple. The most important thing to consider when buying a router for your business is to understand its use. We have broken down these requirements in to three basic use cases: Home Office, Small Office and Medium Office. These different use cases have very different requirements and objectives.

Home Office: 1 to 2 Users

Home offices typically have few users with very simple Internet requirements and very limited space. Home office users want a router that is simple to manage, inexpensive and most importantly reliable for their business. The routers we recommend for the home office provide decent quality, affordability and will work well with the Phonebooth service.

 

Recommended:
(Always get newer models when moving to VoIP)

Linksys WRT Router - No special configuration necessary 
Linksys / Cisco E Series (1000, 2000, 3000) - No special configuration necessary 
Netgear RangeMax Router - Make sure to turn Application Layer Gateway (ALG) off if present in the router.

 

Not Recomended: 
(These routers have been tested and are known to not work)

D-link - Issues reported with IP-phones
Belkin - Issues with DHCP for IP-phones

Small Office: 2 to 10 users

Small offices have many of the same requirements of a home office, including price and ease, but typically the Internet usage needs can be very different. This causes more of a challenge when the Internet connection is shared by data traffic and voice traffic. For this reason, we have two kinds of recommendations: the first is for offices with two separate connections (one for Internet and one for voice) and the second is for companies with a shared Internet and voice environment. 

Separate Connection Recommendations: 
Good if not sharing the connection, but could cause trouble if using shared connection

Linksys WRT Router - No special configuration necessary 
Linksys / Cisco E Series (1000, 2000, 3000) - No special configuration necessary 
Netgear RangeMax Router - Make sure to turn off Application Layer Gateway (ALG), if present in the router.

 

Shared Connection Recommendations: 
Ideal for shared Internet and Voice connection environments

EdgeMarc 200 Series Router (keep in mind there are many versions some only for ADSL(AW) or Cable(AE) )

EdgeMarc 250 Series

Medium Office: 10 to 50 Users

Medium-sized offices have very different requirements than home or small offices. Quality of service (QoS) is typically required, and voice and data are usually shared. In this case, multiple Internet connectivity is usually for fail-over and redundancy needs. For this reason, we recommend routers that are proven for these types of companies and that possess VoIP specific capabilities for traffic shaping, QoS and voice quality monitoring.

 

Recommendations:

Cisco - IOS 12.4 or better

EdgeMarc 200 & 4500 Series

If you do not have one of the recommended routers, feel free to use the one you have. 
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