Guide - resolving poor quality
This is both a guide for end users in how to resolve quality issues with phone calls and also serves as the procedure our own support staff follow when helping end users resolve ongoing call quality issues.
Phone calls can suffer with poor quality in a varying number of ways. It is important we find out what exactly the issue is so that we can narrow down what changes, if any, need to be made. Common quality problems are:
- Broadband to site
- Actual phone on site
- Local network issues
- Issue at babblevoice
- Issue at BT
- Issue at callers end, including
- Mobile reception
- System on other end
- Any other number of reasons
We can help with identifying where the problem is (points 1 through 6), but we can only help resolve for points 1 through 4. Even then, we are at the behest of providers, such as BT, for the quality of the broadband.
Experience comes into play when diagnosing where the issue is. If we are asked to help resolve an issue we need to hear the actual call. So our help desk staff will alway ask the following:
- Time and date of any call
- Caller ID of the call
- Which phone handled the call
- If possible, the call recording with your permission to listen to the call, if not possible we will be unable to help.
- Can you confirm that the issue can be heard in the recording if you could listen to the recording?
Listening to a recording is very important as how the audio can break up sounds very different for VOIP issues compared with a mobile signal breaking up for example.
We move onto resolve only when we can confidently say what the problem is and we have identified a call with that problem.
Once the issue has been highlighted and it is a resolvable problem (for example, we can't improve a poor signal on a mobile phone call), then we will help you look for the possible resolution.
If you think of a babblevoice as a collection of links in a chain (i.e. the phone, which is plugged into a network switch, which is plugged into a broadband router, which is plugged into the broadband, which talks to babblevoice), each link simply needs to be verified as working. The most common issue is broadband and router, so we usually start there.
If we feel that a quality has been resolved and we continue to receive reports of poor quality then we move back into verify. We do this for 2 reasons:
- Sometimes users can become paranoid of quality issues (understandably if a problem has been ongoing) and any call with quality issue gets reported including poor mobile signals.
- It is not uncommon for multiple issues to exist. We may have resolved one issue for another to now become apparent.
Poor quality phone calls are by far the most common type of issue we are asked to look into. The way the audio breaks up when a mobile gets poor signal is very distinctive. We cannot do anything about this.
Audio blibs and crackles
This is definitely where we need to listen to the call recording to help you out. Mobile signal, VOIP break ups and other type of quality issues all sound different and with experience you can tell them apart.
Delaying in connecting calls
Typically noticed on inbound calls. Sporadically calls can take 2-3 seconds instead of 0-2 seconds. This can either be a babble issue - i.e. we need to move you to another server as your current server is working its little heart out, or it can be be down to a broadband issue i.e. packets are dropped - the reasons it connects in the 2-3 seconds is the first packet to confirm the call is dropped and a timeout occurred and got retransmitted.
This is also a common issue. Over the last 10 years broadband has improved enormously. However, it is very different to older technologies such as ISDN and analogue phone lines (technically this is referred to as packet switched vs circuit switched) - but whilst broadband has many advantages it still has issues such as audio quality.
We may ask you to speak with your broadband provider but if you do not get satisfaction and we feel the problem is with your supplier we may ask your permission to speak with them directly.
You need to check:
- All broadband filters are plugged in correctly even at points which do not use broadband (i.e. fax machines)
- Check all the settings for your router - perhaps swap it for a approved router
- Speak with babblevoice to see what our recorded connection drop rate is for your site - this is indicative of the quality of the line
- Speak with BT to get the line tested, if you site is a long way from the exchange BT can change the settings to slow the line down in favour of reliability. Typically when BT do this, if the line is used for babblevoice only you do not lose anything as they maintain the upload speed which would be the limiting factor of the line - not the download speed.
Routers also continue to give lots of problems. If we install babblevoice, then we will always install Draytek routers. Even then it is important to configure them in a certain way.
BT Business hubs always have SIP ALG enabled which always cause quality problems. Annoyingly, BT configure them to perform auto updates, which reset the settings to switch on SIP ALG after we switch it off. So always check this is switched off.
For sites with ongoing quality issues we can also monitor the router to see how much traffic it is using to ensure it is not hitting limits of the broadband available.