What Are the Limitations of VoIP?

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Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is a form of digital telephone communication that does not require traditional twisted pair telephone wiring. On a VOIP phone, the voice of the two parties is digitized and converted to data packets that are transmitted from point to point using the public Internet. Although VOIP phones offer lower costs than traditional phone calls, VOIP service has some inherent limitations.

911 Service

  • Not all VOIP services offer full integration with the current Enhanced 911 (or E-911) service. Because a VOIP number can be physically located, some emergency services may not have address information for a 911 call placed from a VOIP number. This is similar in many ways to 911 limitations on cell phones, when the exact location of the phone is not known. Some VOIP providers now offer an option to associate a physical address with a phone number. That address is transmitted to emergency services when a call to 911 is placed from the VOIP number.

Data Requirement

  • To use VOIP , you must have a fast internet connection. VOIP is transmitted over the internet and requires the transmission of a lot of data. Current cable and DSL/ADSL lines usually provide more than adequate bandwidth. However, VOIP may not work properly over dialup data connections or some satellite connections. If you use satellite connections, contact your provider for advice. VOIP generally needs a latency, or ping time, of less than 200 milliseconds. Many satellite internet providers cannot meet this requirement because of the amount of time it takes the signal to travel from earth station to satellite and back to a receiving earth station.

Call Quality Issues

  • VOIP can be prone to some call quality issues. If your data connection is not fast enough, you might have call issues related to the inability of the system to send and receive data fast enough. Because the data packets do not all take the same path through the internet, some packets may arrive after packets that were sent earlier. VOIP data is buffered to allow these late packets to be inserted into the audio stream, but in cases where too many packets are delayed, degradation in call quality may result.

Network Performance Degradation

  • Data use by a VOIP system can cause other network functions to deteriorate. For example, if you have a slower DSL connection, using VOIP wile other people on your home network are trying to watch videos can result in poor video performance. The bandwidth required for video streaming may also adversely affect the quality of the VOIP call.

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