Some theories postulate that a fast Internet connection is required for VoIP. However, this is an outdated theory. In fact, with managed VoIP services, providing Internet-based phone technology, you don’t need fast network speeds. Using VoIP is similar to an analog telephone except it occurs on a digital platform and call packets are transmitted over the Internet. So then, you don’t need a fast Internet connection, you just need a reliable Internet connection. Keep reading to learn more.

What type of Internet connection do you need for VoIP?

To utilize managed VoIP services, it’s critical to understand how much bandwidth VoIP uses in the first place. Well, according to the FCC, VoIP calls require Internet speeds that have fewer than 0.5 Mbps for downloads. To put this in perspective, streaming video requires 3-to-4 Mbps of download speed. Further, social media needs at least 1 Mbps download speeds. In other words, if your Internet connection can transmit a streaming service or social media, then it is certainly fast enough for VoIP. However, if you want to ensure your calls are clear and seamless, then naturally faster and larger bandwidths are recommended. Speak with your managed services provider to learn more about recommended Internet connect speeds too.

For instance, you might need at least 0.384 Mbps upstream and downstream. If you have a DSL connection or higher, it should suffice.

What is bandwidth?

The rate of data transfer from your Internet service is also called bandwidth. It refers to how quickly it can send and retrieve data within a specified period. Yet, VoIP does not require a lot of bandwidth for high-quality phone calls and audio Although, it would help to reserve some of your Internet bandwidth for managed VoIP services. Think of how you use VoIP. Bandwidth is measured based on megabits per second (Mbps). Essentially, Mbps is the transfer rate of megabits per second. A higher bandwidth equates to higher transfers. IT managed services providers can give you more information on how to make voice calls on your network a priority and how to prevent other running applications from impacting audio quality.

What is a codec?

Now that we understand bandwidth, let’s explore a codec. How well your VoIP calls are transmitted will depend on the codec used by your IT managed services provided. The coder-decoder, or codec encodes a digital data stream to ensure readiness for transmission. In addition, it decodes the data stream to execute playback. So then, it compresses and decompresses digital data packets to enable a seamless and quick transmission. Without a codec, transmission would be much slower. Codecs are crucial. In terms of VoIP, a code would convert the audio signals into compressed data packets to send and then uncompress the data signals for replay.

How fast is your Internet connection?

Your Internet provider may tell you that your Internet speed may run up to 50 Mbps, but this may or may not be true. What you can do is to initiate an Internet speed test. Look for the following numbers listed below:

  1. Upload speed. Regarding VoIP service, the upload speed is measured similarly to the download speed using Mbps. Upload and download speeds are vital for VoIP since real-time conversations require rapid sending of audio data packets.

  2. Download speed. According to the FCC, basic broadband service has a download rate of 3-to-8 Mbps. Faster services can range between 12-to-25 Mbps. Download speed is the result of how many megabits can be downloaded per second.

  3. Ping rate. As the reaction time, the ping rate is measured in milliseconds. A faster ping, with a lower number of milliseconds makes for a faster connection.

Run an Internet speed test at varying times of day to see if the results are consistent. The objective is to find out your true Internet speed. Keep in mind that testing on multiple devices can alter the results since they may have different Wi-Fi antennas.

So, is your Internet connection good enough for VoIP? Well, VoIP uses a rate of less than 0.5 Mbps. Let’s see the download speeds of common types of connections:
  • Mobile: 41 Mbps
  • Fiber: 250-1,000 Mbps
  • DSL: 5-35 Mbps
  • Cable: 10-500 Mbps

If you want to switch to an IT managed services provider who offers VoIP services instead of analog, you could realize hundreds of dollars in annual savings. You don’t have to pay for physical hardware, for installation, or maintenance of physical devices. And, VoIP is portable and can be used as long as there is an Internet connection. After you run your Internet test, you will likely find that your Internet connection is more than adequate for VoIP. 

On the other hand, underestimating VoIP bandwidth could result in call quality issues, according to It’s best to have some clearance between the minimum speed recommended and your current speed due to the nature of internet connections, which can slow down when many people in the same area are using the internet at the same time.

What affects how much bandwidth your VoIP service needs?

Two main factors determine how much bandwidth your internet phone service uses.

First is the number of calls you want to make concurrently. This is especially relevant for business VoIP users who need to estimate the number of employees who could be on the phone at one time. The math is straightforward, and you’d simply multiply the number of concurrent calls by the bandwidth recommendations.

Notably, even households with one phone number can have multiple simultaneous calls by using features like Instant Second Line. If you plan to use your service in this way, then simply double your bandwidth requirements to accommodate two conversations.

The second factor that affects your bandwidth needs is the behind the scenes technology of your VoIP provider. The processing algorithms affect transmission and internet usage.

VoIP services that make smart use of your bandwidth employ strong compression technology. That means audio data will be reduced before it’s sent so it can transmit quickly and use less bandwidth.

Service can also be optimized through adaptive redundancy technology. The enemy of a high-quality voice call is packet loss, and this intelligent technology can instantly detect when there are gaps in the audio and send redundant data packets to fill in the blanks. Not only does this technology improve call quality, but by working dynamically, it helps you minimize your bandwidth usage.

Some VoIP providers also have technology that can work at your network level to prioritize phone calls. If you do have a limited amount of bandwidth, other data-intensive tasks such as downloads can have the potential to compete with your phone calls. With Quality of Service (QoS) technology that prioritizes phone calls, you don’t have to worry that the internet activity of someone else in your household will affect your phone conversation.

For example, when using the QOS configuration options on the Ooma Telo home phone, users can optimize their service to avoid wasting bandwidth.

If you’re ready to learn more, contact SSI today.