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Samuel Scott

By: Samuel Scott on May 12, 2023

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What Causes Choppy VoIP Communication Issues? (& How To Fix Them)

IT Support

Successful business leaders (and the majority of humans) understand the value of communication. Whether it’s face-to-face, email, or in-person, communication is vital to the success of all relationships, business and personal.

Call centers, customer service locations, auto parts departments, medical offices, nonprofit organizations rely highly on telephone conversations. Other businesses such as e-commerce may rely more on data transmission than telephone calls.

No matter which type of communication your business relies on, you want to make a good first impression, showing the customer that your organization values communication. Technology plays a critical role.

We’ve all been frustrated (as customers or business leaders) when technology doesn’t measure up. Maybe your calls get dropped, or maybe the voice quality is choppy, or the transmission time lags. No matter issue, it’s frustrating. Especially when you are paying for technology that is supposed to work!

In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons that voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems have issues and how to resolve them.

After reading this article, you’ll know the signs to look for and how to put your best foot forward when talking to customers via VoIP phone systems.

What Is A VoIP Phone System?

Let’s start at the beginning. VoIP phone systems convert voice signals to data and transmit the data via the internet (rather than through traditional wires and cables or cell phone optical fiber networks).

How Do VoIP Phone Systems Work?

Every device that connects to an internet network uses a unique internet protocol (or IP) address. IP addresses are similar to physical addresses or traditional telephone numbers, in that they identify a specific device.

VoIP phone systems send data files to IP addresses. Upon receipt those data files are converted to voice, text, or video feed. Wondering what your IP address is? Find out here: whatismyipaddress.com

Permit me a moment of “tech speak.” VoIP calls have two essential protocols: user datagram protocol (UDP) or transmission control protocols (TCP). Each is used for a different type of communication.

UDP is connectionless and is typically used for video and telephone calls. With these types of communication, when a data packet is lost (and you miss part of the conversation as a result,) it is easy to ask the caller to repeat it.  

TCP is a connection-based protocol that is used for more valuable data such as a text, database, or file. Because these data are static, a glitch in these types of communications is more problematic and more difficult to rectify.

Related article: Traditional vs. VoIP Telephone Services: 3 Key Differences

What Are the Advantages Of VoIP Phone Systems?

VoIP phone systems offer several advantages over traditional phone systems. Here are a couple that I consider most important:

1. Flexibility

VoIP phone systems offer a single phone number that can ring on multiple devices (known as simultaneous ring or mobile twinning). This means that whether you are in the office or on the road, you won’t miss a single call.

And voicemail to email integration means that you can get your messages sent directly to your email, meaning you don’t have to log in to voicemail separately to retrieve them.

Related article: Keeping Remote Work Safe: Cybersecurity Policies, VPNs And More

2. Cost

VoIP phone systems offer cost structure options. For example, most VoIP providers offer call paths rather than traditional phone lines, which seasonal businesses can use to control expenses by scaling phone capacity up or down according to their need.

In addition, softphones (or phones that are loaded onto a computer) can be used along with a mobile device, which is cheaper than a traditional handset.

Related article: VoIP Vs. Landline: Differences, Pros & Cons

How Do I Know If My VoIP Call Quality Is Bad?

Allow me another moment of “tech speak.” There are two components of VoIP call quality.

1. Latency 

Network delays can affect the time it takes for packets of data to reach their destination (the recipient’s IP address). Latency is usually caused by congested bandwidth and often is characterized by large pauses without hearing someone’s voice during a phone call.

Related article: Slow Computer? How To Troubleshoot The Root Cause

2. Jitter

An actual networking term, jitter occurs when data packets are lost or dropped due to latency. The result is that information arrives at the recipient’s IP address out of order, which typically results in jumbled phone conversations.

What Causes Bad VoIP Phone Call Quality?

Several things can affect VoIP communication quality. Here are some of the most common factors:

1. Internet Connection

Various components of your internet connection can affect VoIP phone call quality

For example, your wi-fi router affects the speed of your internet connection and the quality of your VoIP phone calls.

If your router is outdated or needs software upgrades, your VoIP call quality could be affected. In addition, your router may or may not be able to prioritize VoIP traffic (rather than data traffic like web browsing or gaming for example).

2. Bandwidth

Since VoIP needs a steady flow of data for good call quality, any activity that diverts bandwidth from your VoIP system can negatively affect call quality.

Bandwidth affects the speed of data transmission. If you experience jitter or conversation lags, bandwidth could be the issue.

3. Network Issues

Network issues can contribute to poor VoIP call quality


Think of internet traffic like vehicles on a roadway. When congestion issues pop up and there isn’t enough room for all of the vehicles, like during rush hour, everything is delayed, and sometimes accidents happen.

The same is true of internet bandwidth, if you don’t have enough bandwidth, traffic on your network slows (sometimes to a stop) and “accidents” (like lost packets) happen.

If you use a DSL or slower cable modem for internet access, you may need to upgrade so that there is enough bandwidth for your voice and data to effectively travel via the same connection.


Things like the type of cables used throughout the network (fiber or copper), the distance network traffic (data) travels, number of network hops from one location to another, and increases in data volume can vastly affect the quality of VoIP communication. Server performance also can be a factor.

There are tools you can use to test internet connection and bandwidth, the two most common reasons for VoIP phone quality issues. Some other causes of VoIP phone quality issues include old devices, uninstalled software updates, and hardware issues.  

How Can I Improve The Quality Of My VoIP Phone Calls?

The best way to improve the quality of your VoIP phone calls is by implementing best practices. Here are some top considerations:

1. Network Performance

Determine if there is congestion on your network and take steps to ensure that you have the capacity your business needs.

Understand how your network currently prioritizes traffic and make sure your ViOP system activities have priority and the uninterrupted data stream needed for peak performance.

2. Internet Connection

Contact your internet service provider (ISP) to see if you have the right internet plan for your business. Upgrade routers, transmission cables, and access points (number and location can be factors).

Best practice is to place phone ports on a separate virtual network and give them priority.

One way to do this is with Quality of Service (QOS) routers, which allow organizations to prioritize which data packets (voice, email, video, etc.) are prioritized. Without QOS routers, all communications are placed in one virtual network with no prioritization, which often leads to chaos and poor VoIP phone quality.

 3. Phone Setup

Correct set up of the VoIP system is critical. For example, making sure the ports for the VoIP phone system are properly configured can have a significant impact on call quality.

This role falls primarily to your IT support group. They shape how traffic (data) flows from one end point to another and, ultimately, out to the internet. In the same way that you wrap, tape, address, and affix adequate postage to a package you’d mail at the post office, the IT team performs the same tasks for your data packets.

In other words, make sure your infrastructure is as "VoIP friendly” as possible. I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come to me saying their VoIP system isn’t working well, when the issue is really with their infrastructure.  

What’s The Bottom Line?

After reading this article, you have a better understanding of VoIP phone systems.

You understand what they are, how they work, and the advantages they offer. You also know the signs of poor VoIP call quality such as latency and jitter, the things that affect it (including internet connection, bandwidth, and network issues).

You've learned some of the elements that can help improve the quality of your VoIP calls and ensure that you incorporate best practice solutions (network performance, internet connection and phone setup).

At this point, you may have the in-house IT resources you need to select and implement a VoIP phone system or optimize the one you already have. Or, you may realize that VoIP systems are more complex than you originally thought and you need external support to evaluate the entire system and your network.

The one thing I’d say at this point is that VoIP phone systems offer a lot of benefits when configured correctly and supported by your infrastructure. Make sure you have the best equipment and best configuration to support your business, so that your customers know that communication is a priority.

Kelser provides a broad range of IT support services and solutions. We offer a full complement of managed IT support as well as separate project work and phone system solutions for businesses in a variety of industries.

If you are looking for an external IT provider to help with your VoIP phone system configuration and quality (or any other service), we encourage you to explore several options. It’s important that you find the right fit for your organization.

To explore whether Kelser would be a good partner for your organization, click on the button below and we’ll get in touch to schedule a brief telephone conversation.

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About Samuel Scott

Samuel Scott is a network engineer whose passion for IT evolved from an 18-year career in education. His involvement in STEM education fostered his interest and led to him pursue IT certifications and his second career developing creative and effective network solutions for his customers.

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