How To Assess the Quality of a VOIP Service

So, now you can make telephone calls virtually to anyone in the world from your computer that is connected to the Internet via a high-speed broadband connection and is on an unlimited data plan.  Awesome!

Do you get the same feel; are you as comfortable making these calls, as you would be if you were to be calling from your landline or mobile/cellular phone? Well, I would be, since there is a very good cost advantage. But, is that sufficient? Do you expect your VOIP calling to be as good as the POTS (plain old telephone system) call experience? Is your VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service provider living up to promises made at the time of your signing up for their services? How do you go about assessing the quality of a VOIP service?  Well, fear not, here is how to do this.

Firstly, is there a simple method for assessing the quality of a VOIP service? Yes; you should be happy if there is no perceivable lag or delay in the voice coming through and if your caller can hear you continuously; if either or both voices do not echo; your calls do not drop and there is no background noise. Most often, your calls should connect the first time you attempt calling a number and you can hold long hours of conversation without any interruptions, call drops or cuts. This is good, but is there a reckonable system for assessment? You bet there is, it is technology after all, and since some of the VOIP services are charged, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has specified various subjective and objective type methods and standards for assessment of quality of a VOIP service.

Considering that the VOIP service essentially is transmission of voice in packets of data on real time basis, experts have preferred the objective type testing methods - use a set of algorithms and computer programs for assessing VOIP quality and have no human involvement, [in the subjective type method, a set of humans (sometimes close to a hundred people or more) are given voice calls and asked to evaluate on basis of set parameters]. 

Some of the objective type methods include the Perceptual Speech Quality Measure, Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality, Perceptual Analysis Measurement System and the E-model, all incorporated as standards by the ITU. 

These tests are further classified into intrusive and non-intrusive tests. Intrusive tests involve the introduction of a signal into the voice network and evaluation of the signal's journey through the network, while a parallel test is simultaneously being conducted. Results of both tests are compared to arrive at net analysis. These tests apply existing auditory models of human beings (ways how our ears work) in their analyses and can be automatically conducted. Automation of quality assessment tests provide reliable results and the tests can be replicated in various test environments for accuracy.

Now, if you are wondering how an ordinary Jane or Joe can conduct these tests, the answer is simple. You can either ask your service provider for a test module or look up online for independent service providers who will evaluate the service for you. You can even save the test results for future reference.


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