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back to article ADSL - the VoIP killer

Over half of UK businesses are avoiding VoIP 'cos their ADSL broadband connections to branch offices aren't up to scratch, according to research coming out of Enterprise-VoIP specialists Viatel. Viatel hired Omniboss to talk to 200 IT Decision Makers to find out why more companies aren't using VoIP, and discovered that 54 per …

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Tom
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Is it just me...

I've a lousy 512k bb link.

If I use the free skype I get absolutely awfull quality and stutter to another skype user in NZ.

If I use asterix, once I've managed to find out the IP of the person I wish to call, I get high quality uninterrupted calls.

Could be a coincidence....

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VOIP doesn't save much money; in the WAN

After you have actually costed out office builds and looked at the cost of office to office calls you could "toll bypass", it becomes painfully obvious that unless it's a new office in which the reduced cabling buildout will save money, there's not a lot of point in VOIP

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Clients notice

Too true. You only have to compare the difference sound quality you get with a dedicated link versus an ADSL to realise the truth of it.

Skype to PSTN compresses voice down to 8K and then transmits that over a slightly dubious ADSL link without flow control to Carriers who have bid the lowest price to deliver the call remotely.

The bad thing from a business perspective is that you may be able to hear your client's clearly, but they can barely hear you.

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Stop

Run that by me again....

"simple as reconfiguring ADSL routers to prioritise traffic"

Bollox

There is no point unless you have QoS end to end. You can have the fastest routers in the world at each end. If the link inbetween is shit, the quality will be shit.

Where do they get these morons from!

Can we have these "experts" are overpaid dumbasses icon please.

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Gosh...

I'd never have guessed.

It's too easy to simply blame ADSL though. If you think about remote access, then your VPN connection would have to flag VOIP packets to ensure QoS, which is a silly thing to do. Unless you were to run a second (prioritised) VPN connection for your enterprise VOIP.

Don't get me wrong: VOIP in business is fabulous stuff - but not so great that I'd use it as a primary mechanism for inbound traffic.

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Joke

A hard sell indeed

"Today much of the advantage of VoIP is in its ability to integrate with other systems, but that's a much harder sell than the cheaper phone calls that VoIP is still identified with."

Exactly. But better not tell the VoIP hypesters.

Joe Public's main experience of VoIP is in dealing with carppy callcentres where the VoIP is so badly implemented that you can't even hear what the other end is saying, let alone make sense of it.

So, they ask themselves, why use a carp service to "save money" when all I actually need to do is switch my calls provider away from the big names (BT/CPW/Virgin) to someone that offers sensible prices and reliable service.

Traffic prioritisation is a dodgy game too, at least in the UK. It's all very well your local router honouring the prioritisation but if your local router and its immediate links isn't the bottleneck it probably doesn't really help. And for most customers on most UK ISP's the customer-router<>exchange link isn't the bottleneck, the real bottleneck will be BTwoolsale's interconnect to the ISP, because it's the most expensive in Mbit/s terms, even after BT's much over-hyped 21CN (which is now looking somewhat delayed) is rolled out nationally.

Joke, because that's what BT, in particular BTwoolsale, (and their useless regulator) are.

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Stop

Cue enter...

IPv6! QoS built-in - is that not the driver for upgrading?

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Stop

VOIP or PC?

We used Voip over a half Meg line shared between 5 PCs. My 2 year old Acer works fine, yet 2 newer ones have abysmal quality calls. We are using the same version of VOIP software, and before upgrading PCs one of the other older machines worked fine too.

The phrase 'logical conclusion' and I.T. sometimes have nothing in common. If experimentation with other, maybe older PCs, yields better results then it may be worth the effort. FREE calls, who can better that? We pay for calls to mobiles but at no greater cost than other providers charge.

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Pay peanuts, get monkeys

If you're not prepared to pay for an ISP that provides you with a decent-enough quality connection [which could involve more than just raw bandwidth - QoS that favours VoIP traffic helps] , then you'll get poor quality VoIP calls.

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Lack or QoS in IP

Blaming ADSL (as such) is completely the wrong target. The basic IP protocol lacks the necessary QoS to guarantee voice services over a WAN. It's subject to all sorts of issues with regard to jitter which are bound to affect voice quality. That's especially so if you are on long latency links such as internation ones.

If you want QoS with IP then MPLS is the way to go - but that doesn't come free. MPLS is perfectly possible over ADSL, but just expecting a contended data network service to offer the same service levels as voice is rather like expecting to be able to drive down a public motorway without being held up by the odd traffic jam. You need a "toll lane" for guaranteed service.

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Happy

Is Skype To Blame?

Too many folks have their views on VOIP shaped by Skype, which is a shame.

I use Gradwell for VOIP over a home-user TalkTalk ADSL line. Gradwell uses Asterisk. It works fine for VOIP-PSTN and PSTN-VOIP calls.

My handset is a standard C+W CWT2000 via a Linksys adapter. Total deployment cost? Around £20. Folks only know it's a VOIP line when I tell them.

"Yer gets what yer pays for".

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JBR

don't know what the argument is about

We're a small business needing call queueing, tranferring, voicemail, multiple lines and out of hours messaging.

VOIP wins hands down from a cost point of view

We've got a Zen 8Mb ADSL line (why use any other ISP???), QOS sorted on our router and dedicated Snom phones connected to an Asterisk server on our LAN. We use Voipfone as our provider and are dead pleased with them.

Call quality is better than POTS, way way way cheaper as we only have 1 line (we can typically have 3 calls on the go), and I've been pleased with uptime; a quick look at the logs shows that in the klast 2 weeks we have had 100% uptime.

Our router has a 3G backup link too, so even if the local BT exchange goes phut (as it did last year for 3 days) we've got comms PLUS even if everything blows up/ burns down Voipfone give us autofailover to any number we want.

For SME VOIP is the way forward- cost effective and good quality.

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(Quality) VOIP is not the same as (Free) VOIP

Working for a large Telco I can say we have a lot of customers who take advantage of VOIP on our managed MPLS networks. Like a lot of people have said previously, you only get what you pay for. If you want "Free" voip then you can't expect 100% reliability and crystal clear speech. If however you opt for a fully managed MPLS network over which your VOIP is managed correctly then there is no problem since most links to local offices use dedicated SDSL lines.

Unfortunatley, society seems to think that everything on t'internet should not only be free but should be 110% reliable and provide some kind of compensation should it fail.

please remember - You only get what you pay for. If you dont pay for QOS then you can't expect it

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Linux

@By Tony The B

Just out of interest what OS are you running, if you are using Skype it runs (or did) like shit on Vista. I have relatives in Dubai and when they use the Vista machine, oh dear. However when they use an XP powered machine it's clear as a bell.

Me ? Running Skype under Linux and all is well - FOSS purists no flames and dragging me off to the inquisition please.

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Boffin

VoIP works well, but can you trust UK ISPs?

I've been with Gradwell for the last few months. The service is excellent.

It pays to invest in the right equipment as a user, for example I've got a Linksys PAPT VOIP adapter which has been superb. Call quality is excellent.

What concerns me more is trust; I simply don't trust the UK's larger ISPs to respect the privacy of my data comms (given the recent and ongoing Ph-iasco with BT Retail) or regulators like ICO/Ofcom to police them.

Given VOIP is unencrypted data communication over a public network, you have to trust that the ISPs will not to tap your voice traffic. In BT's case, I wouldn't trust them with anything at all.

Using BT's warped logic, the unencrypted nature of VoIP passing over a public communication network implies consent for your phone to be tapped.

Perhaps more worryingly, you could also use exactly the same warped logic to justify tapping PSTN (another public communication network).

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We are using VoIP

Telcos are using VoIP but over managed networks, not the public 'internet'. But surely the problem is not just network congestion, but the upload speed of ADSL? For VoIP on any scale you would need SDSL at least.

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g e
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Asterisk

Having tinkered with asterisk to some degree I have to say I've never had a bolloxed call using it compared to other stuff like Skype, got an IP phone on the upstairs desk and you'd never know it wasn't a normal phoneline in use.

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roy

You can't fix a bad ATM QoS with MPLS

The bulk of DSL connections run over ATM networks. Perfectly suited for Class of Services and Quality of Services. Problem is that lots of providers use a bad ATM QoS (UBR instead of say VBR-NRT ... VBR-RT would be even better) and try to fix quality issues with MPLS. That's like building roads with holes, while upgrading suspension on cars. If you use VBR-RT with decent network management, VoIP is no problem.

In the Netherland we (Zoranet) offer VoIP on overbooked VBR-RT DSL connectivity with ATM QoS guarantees (latency <22Ms) with guaranteed available bandwith and quality cueing for as little as Euro 19,99 a month (data & Voip, number included). And that just works (fax included).

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Anonymous Coward

Voip! voip! Make room for a little 'un

Isn't VOIP the virtual equivalent of How many people can fit into a telephone box at the same time?

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Re: VOIP doesn't save much money; in the WAN

"After you have actually costed out office builds and looked at the cost of office to office calls you could "toll bypass", it becomes painfully obvious that unless it's a new office in which the reduced cabling buildout will save money, there's not a lot of point in VOIP"

If you do as we have done at work and run both Ethernet and telephone over the same RJ45 cabling (the phones have adapters to convert RJ45 to standard BT sockets), then there is even less point..

But, having said that, I work in a Uni, and we actually require that each room have multiple data points, so it was easier for us to just use the same cabling throughout and use adaptors for the phones..

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Anonymous Coward

Viatel?

I seem to recall that Viatel were the company that bought AT&T's operations in the UK and then went bust with a load of unlit dark fibre all over Europe.

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Go

Ministry of the Bleeding Obvious

A VoIP company has only just NOW discovered that VoIP over ADSL is crap?

I was saying this a few years back, when everyone was evangalising VoIP saying how wonderful it was, and getting SIP accounts for over-the-internet calls.

When I said "Except that ADSL is as reliable as a plumber's estimate, and the average connection won't be able to handle more than around 5 simultaneous calls..." I was rubished as an unbeliever... a sinner against the great lord VoIP.

This is why MCSEs suck... experience outweighs what it says should happen in the manual.

-- Richard

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You get what you pay for - again

Disclaimer: I sell VoIP and VoIP capable PBXs (But only to businesses)

The biggest issues I've seen are cheapskates who see VoIP as a cheap solution to their telephony issues. It can be cheaper than traditional telephony solutions, but that's just part of what VoIP is all about - Flexibility is what I mainly try to sell to people.

But no matter what, if you want VoIP to work for you, then you absolutely must have a good, reliable broadband connection, and for a business, that means that you should be prepared to pay a few pounds a month more for a good, reliable connection from a reputable ISP, and maybe even consider a 2nd dedicated ADSL line purely for VoIP.

I've (sadly) seen people spend more trying to cobble together a VoIP solution using residential quality broadband and equipment than if they'd stuck to their old fashioned BT wall socket.

Interesting this VoIP question comes up today. On Thursday last week, the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA) celebrated their 3rd year in existence, and held their first awards ceremony. I was there along with - well, I'm not sure as I'm not good at counting - 150-200 other people? These were people representing all aspects of the VoIP industry in the UK - big names (Cisco, BT, Magrathea, Gradwell) as well as some lesser known ones, (Drogon Systems) but all with one thing in common - a vested interest in making VoIP in the UK work.

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Stop

ADSL

I have used SIP devices with the Gradwell service over SDSL for some time now. It is great and easy to setup but there are occasional lost packets resulting in words missing from sentences. I don't see how this will ever be overcome if you're routing calls via the internet

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Anonymous Coward

Voip and DSL

I work for a Voip company. What I see is a problem that starts from the crappy free router that customers get from the ISP, to a crappy link.

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Happy

@Stuart Castle

"f you do as we have done at work and run both Ethernet and telephone over the same RJ45 cabling (the phones have adapters to convert RJ45 to standard BT sockets), then there is even less point."

The idea is to run voice and dat on the SAME cable. That's how you save the money. Most business (+10 employees) have been running voice over cat5 for donkey years...

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i will never recommed it to a business....

...not just because the lines rubbish, and that there's bandwidth charges, but mainly because the security / possibility of automated junk is far higher. its free for spammers to use Voip, yet it costs marketeers to call business up.

VOIP? not on my watch.

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answer to Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 15th December 2008 11:42 GMT

We run XP, a mix of Home and Pro. The difference seems to be the hardware aside from that. When an old PC was changed for a new one using the same cables, sotware and handset the reduction in usefulness was immediately apparent. We use VoipStunt by the way. It is not perfect by any means, there is variable quality even on my PC, but 90 odd % of the time it is absolutely fine.

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@Stuart Reeves

"The idea is to run voice and dat on the SAME cable. That's how you save the money"

If you install a VoIP system you only need one CAT5/6 outlet saving you between £25 - £65 (depending on amount of outlets)

But......

You need to upgrade all of your switches to support QoS and PoE, the phones are more expensive, the actual PBX (in many cases) is more expensive.

Not such a money saver in the, well pretty short term.

Also if your switch dies you lose voice and data. Normally if something breaks in the comms room you can still make and answer phone calls or compose and answer emails. With a new converged system you can do neither!

Can you believe I sell this stuff, I can't.

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Anonymous Coward

Fundamentals

VOIP is inherently less efficient in terms of bandwidth than conventional voice--but PBXs can be very expensive. VOIP is also quite sensitive to time varying delay --- hence the need for QOS. Going to VOIP in the blind faith that it will be "just as good only cheaper" is a big mistake.

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The value of VOIP

VOIP is not about cheaper calls, no matter what the marketing claims.

Historically, there were only voice bearers. Then we started running data circuits over those voice bearers; the PRIs and the OC-series. Then voice itself became packetized and suddenly we're running voice over data - but still over those same voice bearers. The technology ramps up, but underneath it's still a circuit, and you're still using roughly the same bandwidth to make a call.

The true value of VOIP is in rich voice functionality and the lower cost & complexity of operating a single data network with voice as "just a service".

As more services converge onto data networks (storage is next with FCoE) we'll see increasing utility from that notion. RIght now, we're still building infrastructure. So this is the expensive stage.

But in the meantime, you still need a reliable bearer at the bottom of it all. If you're serious about business-grade branch-office VOIP, you'll go BDSL, with SRST handing off to local PSTN, and a very highly available core switching capability in your DC.

And don't expect a ROI under five years.

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Paris Hilton

I may as well throw in my totally uninformed voip opinion too!

Does voip work? Yes, subject to you using the right kit, same as anything.

Does it need to cost a bundle? No, not if you think about it.

Will it go wrong? No, not if you have thought about it. Use reliable kit, have spare capacity etc and you should never have a problem.

It is invaluable in some situations, I run a helpdesk service, my people all work from home, so its fantastic for us. It (asterisk currently) sits on our vpn/IM server, and gives us the ability to put phones on our clients sites etc.

The right kit? Dedicated server, with a hot failover in a separate datacenter. Hardware phones, QoS on our broadband. Business grade voip->pots service (Gradwell).

Shame we will never get broadband in the Uk anything like our buddies in Norway or Sweden. Even Norway, where the beer is very far from free, dedicated 50mb duplex fiber, installed 500, and 50 a month. Japan, 100mb duplex for about 60-100 a month.

So its perfectly doable, workable etc, you just have to watch out for the cowboys. As usual.

As for call charges, I'm not 100% how much cheaper than BT it is, I can not for the life of me figure out their calling rates from their website, but I am pretty sure they bill by the minute. Gradwell offer lower call setup costs, then bill me by the second at what I'm pretty sure is substantially less also. End result, much cheaper, more functionality and flexibility.

Its a tool, and like any, will not work for every job. To select the tool you need, remove preconceptions, research the subject, plan your implementation etc.

Also, avoid reading the comments on sites like this. (Even mine :-) For example, the thought of everything in my business grinding to a halt because of a switch is hilarious. I have spares. So should you, or a service contract that is quick and efficient.

Paris, because I'll bet even she wouldn't swallow some of the reasons punted above.

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