Not so long ago, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls had a reputation for poor call quality. Advances in network infrastructure and new technologies have helped it evolve to the point where it is surpassing traditional calling.
The quality of VoIP calls is also expected to improve further as 5G becomes more accessible in South Africa.
According to Nic Laschinger, Chief Technology Officer of Euphoria Telecom, the quality of VoIP calls has improved significantly over the past decade, from a point where it was associated with poor quality to surpassing traditional calls.
“Voice call quality over VoIP and mobile calling in South Africa has progressed to the point where digital calling has vastly outpaced analogue channels in both the commercial and residential markets,” said Laschinger.
“Today we don’t think of anything about making a WhatsApp voice call, something that even just a few years ago would have been buggy and frustrating, for example.”
Laschinger attributes the improvements to better technologies, faster speeds, and lower network latency.
“A combination of all of these resulted in better voice call quality,” he said. “For the most part, this is attributable to the best connectivity available in the broadband landscape.”
Laschinger explained that call quality on Wi-Fi networks is expected to improve further as 5G becomes more accessible in the country.
“A higher and better quality bandwidth has resulted in better call quality even on WiFi networks. This improvement will continue as 5G deployments accelerate and fiber completely outperforms its older copper competitors, “he said.
He explained that VoIP phone providers put a lot of time and development effort into their systems to provide better call quality, which is primarily affected by bandwidth.
Laschinger added that Euphoria Telecom recommends specific minimum speeds to its customers to ensure a quality experience.
“This is affected by bandwidth and as a result we recommend certain minimum bandwidth speeds, but to the extent possible, we ensure that our systems deliver a quality experience across the board,” he said.
Andrew King, Head of Voice, Visual Communications and Gaming at Vox Telecom, told MyBroadband that the improvement in voice quality over the years could be attributed to advances in two aspects of delivering quality VoIP services: last-mile connectivity and operator’s network infrastructure.
“A few years ago, last-mile connectivity options were limited and link speeds were insufficient to carry voice reliably,” said King.
“A quality VoIP last mile experience depends on minimizing packet loss, jitter and latency.”
King explained that the exponential growth in fiber availability in South Africa has helped solve these problems.
He also said Vox customers could prioritize voice traffic over less time-dependent Internet traffic with voice-specific quality of service (QoS) configurations available on carrier-grade routers.
“Vox has developed proprietary last-mile QoS configurations in both fiber for home and fiber for the business to prioritize and secure real-time voice and other traffic, such as video calling,” said King.
“This QoS ensures that people on person-to-person and group calls enjoy professional voice and video quality, regardless of other traffic traversing the home or business network.”
He explained that while last mile connectivity is key, a stable voice network is also needed to provide reliable voice services.
“Core networks that are designed with a conservative approach to capacity planning and that are redundant in both routing and power supply typically provide a quality backbone on which to deliver reliable voice service,” he said.
“With QoS technologies implemented within the voice network, our customer traffic takes priority over all of our local, national and international networks.”