Common QoS problems and how to fix them |2023|


In today’s digital age, small businesses rely heavily on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for communication. Quality of Service (QoS) plays a pivotal role in ensuring these communications are clear, uninterrupted, and reliable.

This article will be your guide to understanding common QoS problems faced by small businesses and the underlying causes.

By the end, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to ensure top-notch VoIP calls for your business.


 Common QoS Problems for Small Businesses


1. Insufficient Bandwidth

This is the classic bottleneck for small businesses. Think of bandwidth as the highway that your VoIP calls travel on.

If it’s too narrow, calls can become choppy or even drop.

The Fix: Upgrade your internet plan to ensure adequate bandwidth for VoIP traffic. Prioritize VoIP over other data-intensive activities during business hours.

2. Congestion

Congestion is like rush hour traffic on the internet highway. Too many devices or applications competing for the same resources can lead to packet loss, jitter, and latency.

The Fix: Implement Quality of Service rules to prioritize VoIP traffic and ensure it gets the green light during congestion.

Packet Loss
Picture this as letters lost in the mail. When data packets are lost during transmission, it can result in disjointed conversations.
The Fix: Investigate the root cause, which could be network congestion or even faulty hardware. Replacing faulty equipment or optimizing your network can help.
Jitter is like a rollercoaster ride for data packets. It’s the variation in the delay between packet transmission and reception.
The Fix: Reduce jitter by using a well-configured QoS system and ensuring a stable network connection. A jitter buffer can help smooth out variations in packet arrival times.
Latency is the lag between sending and receiving data packets. High latency can make conversations feel unnatural and frustrating.
The Fix: Minimize latency by selecting an internet service provider with low latency, optimizing your network, and ensuring proper QoS settings.


Causes of QoS Problems in Small Businesses

Quality of Service (QoS) is a crucial aspect of modern small businesses, especially when it comes to ensuring the smooth operation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. In this section, we’ll explore the various factors that can lead to QoS problems in small businesses and how they can impact your VoIP calls. Think of it as your comprehensive guide to diagnosing and fixing these issues.
1. Insufficient Bandwidth: Picture this: your small business shares its network resources for various tasks like emails, web browsing, and VoIP calls. However, if the available bandwidth is insufficient, your VoIP calls could turn into a frustrating experience. It’s like trying to fit a gallon of water through a straw – not very effective.
2. Congestion: Imagine your network as a busy highway during rush hour. Too many cars on the road can lead to congestion, causing traffic jams and delays. Similarly, network congestion happens when too much data competes for the same network resources. This can result in packet loss, jitter, and latency, all of which can wreak havoc on your VoIP calls.
3. Packet Loss: Think of data packets as letters in the mail. When some of those letters go missing during transmission, it can lead to confusion and incomplete messages. Packet loss in your network can be due to congestion, hardware issues, or software errors, making your VoIP calls sound like a jigsaw puzzle missing essential pieces.
4. Jitter: Imagine you’re listening to a song, but the rhythm keeps changing abruptly. That’s what jitter does to your VoIP calls. It introduces variation in the delay between data packets, resulting in choppy audio and dropped calls. It’s like trying to have a smooth conversation while riding a rollercoaster.
5. Latency: In the world of VoIP, latency is the delay between when you speak and when the other person hears it. High latency can lead to awkward conversations with people talking over each other due to the delay. Imagine your words taking a leisurely stroll instead of racing to their destination.
6. Outdated Hardware and Software: Now, consider this scenario: your small business is using outdated network equipment and software. It’s like relying on a typewriter when you could have a modern computer. Outdated hardware may not support the latest QoS features, leaving you with a subpar VoIP experience.
7. Improper Configuration: Imagine if you set your GPS to take you to the grocery store but it leads you to the park instead. That’s what happens when QoS settings are improperly configured. If the wrong traffic is prioritized, your VoIP calls may suffer. Proper configuration is key to a smooth ride.
8. Inadequate Monitoring: Just as a pilot constantly monitors their plane’s instruments, monitoring QoS is essential for smooth VoIP calls. Without proper monitoring, you might not even notice when issues arise. It’s like driving a car blindfolded – accidents waiting to happen.
9. Shared Network: Picture your VoIP traffic as a sports car sharing the road with slow-moving vehicles. If your VoIP data has to compete with other types of traffic on the same network, like file sharing or video streaming, it can lead to congestion and QoS problems. It’s like trying to race a sports car in a traffic jam.
10. Poorly Designed Network: Imagine building a house without a blueprint. If your network isn’t designed properly, it becomes more susceptible to QoS problems. Proper segmentation of your network is crucial to isolate and prioritize VoIP traffic effectively.
11. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks: Think of a DoS attack as a flood of unwanted visitors overwhelming your business premises. These malicious attacks can flood your network with bogus traffic, causing severe QoS problems and potentially shutting down your VoIP communication altogether.
12. Natural Disasters: Lastly, picture a sudden storm knocking out power lines or a flood damaging your office equipment. Natural disasters can disrupt your network infrastructure, leading to severe QoS issues and a halt in your VoIP services.


IV. Benefits of Implementing QoS
When it comes to small businesses, implementing Quality of Service (QoS) offers a multitude of advantages:
Improved VoIP Call Quality
Perhaps the most noticeable benefit is the improvement in VoIP call quality. QoS ensures that your calls are clear, free from disruptions, and have minimal delays, making communication more effective.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Clear and uninterrupted communication with clients and customers leads to higher satisfaction levels. Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and refer your business to others.
Increased Productivity
Efficient VoIP calls mean less time wasted on troubleshooting call issues. This translates to increased productivity as employees can focus on tasks rather than dealing with poor call quality.
Cost Savings
QoS helps optimize your network, which can lead to cost savings. By efficiently using your existing bandwidth, you may avoid costly upgrades and still maintain excellent call quality.
Competitive Edge
Small businesses that can consistently offer high-quality VoIP communication have a competitive edge. Clear and reliable communication can make your business more attractive to clients and partners.
V. Impact of QoS on Small Businesses
The impact of QoS on small businesses extends far beyond improved call quality:
Customer Relationships
Effective communication builds strong customer relationships. Neglecting QoS can lead to dropped calls and misunderstandings, harming customer interactions.
Operational Efficiency
Efficient communication means quicker decision-making and problem-solving. QoS plays a vital role in ensuring that information flows smoothly within the organization.
Employee Morale
Frustrating call quality issues can negatively affect employee morale. A reliable communication system boosts employee satisfaction and engagement.
Business Continuity
QoS can help ensure business continuity. In case of network congestion or disruptions, proper QoS measures can prioritize critical communication to keep the business running.
Your business’s reputation is at stake. Frequent call problems can harm your reputation, making it harder to attract and retain clients.
VI. How to Prevent QoS Problems
Preventing QoS problems is crucial for small businesses to maintain their competitive edge and provide top-notch VoIP services. Here’s how to do it effectively:
Network Monitoring
Regularly monitor your network’s performance. Use network monitoring tools to detect issues early and take corrective actions promptly.
Traffic Prioritization
Implement QoS rules to prioritize VoIP traffic over less critical data. Ensure that your router or network device is configured to give VoIP the highest priority.
Router Configuration
Proper router configuration is paramount. Configure QoS settings to match your business needs. This includes defining which types of traffic should be prioritized and setting bandwidth limits.
Bandwidth Management
Allocate sufficient bandwidth to VoIP traffic. Ensure that other bandwidth-intensive activities don’t interfere with your calls during business hours.
Regular Updates
Keep your hardware and software up to date. Outdated equipment or software can lead to compatibility issues and QoS problems.
Testing and Optimization
Periodically test your VoIP system and make adjustments as necessary. Optimize your QoS settings based on the results of these tests.
Employee Training
Train your employees on best practices for using VoIP systems. Ensure they understand the importance of network resources and QoS settings.


VII. Troubleshooting QoS Problems
When QoS problems arise, swift and effective troubleshooting is essential to minimize disruption. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Identify the Issue
Begin by pinpointing the specific problem. Is it jitter, latency, packet loss, or something else? Use network monitoring tools to gather data on your network’s performance.
Step 2: Check Network Devices
Inspect your routers, switches, and other network devices for any hardware issues or misconfigurations. Ensure they are up-to-date with the latest firmware.
Step 3: Verify Network Traffic
Confirm that the QoS rules are correctly configured to prioritize VoIP traffic. Review your router’s QoS settings to see if any rules need adjustment.
Step 4: Examine Network Congestion
If congestion is the culprit, identify the source. It could be non-essential traffic, such as large file downloads, saturating your bandwidth.
Step 5: Address Jitter and Latency
For jitter, consider implementing a jitter buffer. Adjust the buffer size as needed to smooth out variations in packet arrival times.
Latency issues may require optimizing your network routes or upgrading your internet plan.
Step 6: Packet Loss Resolution
If packet loss is detected, inspect your network for faulty cables, switches, or routers. Replace any defective hardware components.
Additionally, look for software issues or conflicts that could be causing packet loss.
Step 7: Test and Monitor
After making adjustments, run tests to ensure the problem is resolved. Continuously monitor your network to catch any recurring issues early.
VIII. Configuring QoS for Small Businesses
Configuring QoS correctly is vital to ensure that your VoIP calls receive top priority. Here are best practices and examples to guide you:
Best Practices for Configuring QoS Settings:
Define Priorities:
Clearly define which types of traffic should be prioritized. VoIP and video conferencing should typically receive the highest priority.
Set Bandwidth Limits:
Allocate a portion of your available bandwidth specifically for VoIP traffic. This ensures that other activities don’t crowd out your calls.
Use Traffic Classification:
Categorize your network traffic into different classes. For instance, real-time traffic like VoIP should be in one class, while web browsing can be in another.
Implement Traffic Shaping:
Traffic shaping ensures that your network adheres to the defined QoS rules. This can help prevent sudden spikes in other types of traffic from impacting VoIP.
Apply Queue Management:
Use queuing mechanisms like Weighted Fair Queuing (WFQ) or Priority Queuing (PQ) to manage and prioritize traffic based on the rules you’ve set.
Example of QoS Rules and Priorities:
Let’s say your small business uses a VoIP system and has a router that supports QoS. Here’s a simplified example of QoS rules:
Priority 1 (Highest): VoIP traffic (UDP port 5060-5061, and RTP ports 16384-32767)
Priority 2: Video conferencing (UDP port 1719)
Priority 3: Business-critical applications (HTTP/HTTPS, TCP/UDP ports 80, 443)
Priority 4 (Lowest): General web browsing (HTTP/HTTPS, TCP/UDP ports 80, 443)
By setting these priorities, your router ensures that VoIP calls receive top priority, followed by video conferencing and other essential business traffic.


IX. Cost of Implementing QoS
Implementing Quality of Service (QoS) in your small business network can offer numerous benefits, but it’s essential to understand the cost considerations associated with it. Let’s dive into this topic.
1. Hardware Costs:
Router and Network Equipment: Depending on your current network infrastructure, you may need to invest in a router or network equipment that supports QoS features. Prices can vary significantly, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand for enterprise-grade solutions.
Jitter Buffers: If you’re experiencing jitter issues, you might need to purchase hardware or software jitter buffers, which can add to the cost.
2. IT Support:
Configuration and Optimization: Configuring QoS settings can be complex. Hiring IT professionals to set up and optimize QoS on your network can be a significant cost, especially if your network is extensive or has unique requirements.
3. Bandwidth Costs:
Upgraded Internet Plans: To ensure sufficient bandwidth for your QoS-enabled network, you might need to upgrade your internet plan, which can involve higher monthly fees.
4. Software Costs:
QoS Monitoring Tools: Investing in QoS monitoring tools and software can provide valuable insights into your network’s performance. Some of these tools come with a price tag.
5. Training and Education:
Employee Training: If your team isn’t familiar with QoS, you might need to invest in training to ensure that they can manage and troubleshoot the system effectively.
6. Ongoing Maintenance:
Regular Updates: Keeping your QoS system up-to-date with firmware updates and configuration adjustments can incur ongoing costs.
7. Opportunity Costs:
Downtime and Productivity Loss: While not a direct financial cost, poor QoS can result in downtime and decreased productivity, which can impact your business’s bottom line.
Cost Mitigation Strategies:
Start Small: Begin with basic QoS features and gradually expand as your business grows. You don’t need to invest in the most expensive equipment from the start.
Consider Managed Services: Managed service providers can offer cost-effective solutions, handling QoS configuration and maintenance for you.
Explore Open-Source Solutions: Some open-source QoS software and tools can significantly reduce costs.
Regularly Review and Optimize: Continuously monitor your QoS system and optimize it as needed to ensure efficient resource allocation without unnecessary spending.
X. Tips for Monitoring QoS
Effective monitoring is crucial to ensure that your QoS implementation is performing as expected. Here are some tips for monitoring Quality of Service in your small business network:
1. Network Monitoring Tools:
Consider using network monitoring tools like PRTG Network Monitor, SolarWinds, or Wireshark. These tools can provide detailed insights into your network’s performance.
2. QoS Analytics:
Implement QoS analytics tools that can specifically measure and report on QoS parameters like latency, jitter, and packet loss.
3. Regular Testing:
Conduct regular testing of your VoIP and other real-time applications to detect performance issues. You can use tools like ping and traceroute to check latency and network paths.
4. User Feedback:
Solicit feedback from employees regarding call quality and network performance. User input can often reveal issues that monitoring tools might miss.
5. Set Baselines:
Establish baseline performance metrics during times of normal network usage. This provides a reference point for detecting deviations that may indicate QoS problems.
6. Real-time Alerts:
Configure real-time alerts within your monitoring tools to notify you when specific QoS parameters exceed acceptable thresholds. This allows for immediate action.
7. Historical Data Analysis:
Maintain historical data on network performance. Analyzing trends over time can help identify recurring issues and plan for future capacity.
8. Continuous Improvement:
Regularly review monitoring data and adjust QoS settings as needed to ensure optimal network performance.


 VoIP QoS Solutions

Enhancing Quality of Service (QoS) for VoIP calls in small businesses involves various solutions and technologies.

Let’s explore these options to ensure crystal-clear communication:

1. VoIP Optimization Software:
Utilize VoIP optimization software like Cisco’s Voice over IP Service (VoIP) and Citrix SD-WAN to prioritize VoIP traffic, reduce jitter, and ensure low-latency calls.

2. Traffic Shaping:
Implement traffic shaping tools to control and prioritize traffic based on QoS rules. Solutions like pfSense and Cisco’s NBAR (Network-Based Application Recognition) are effective in this regard.

3. Quality of Service (QoS) Routers:
Invest in routers equipped with advanced QoS features. Brands like Cisco, Ubiquiti, and MikroTik offer routers that can intelligently manage and prioritize VoIP traffic.

4. Session Border Controllers (SBCs):
SBCs, like those offered by AudioCodes and Oracle, can help optimize VoIP traffic, provide security, and manage network congestion for VoIP calls.

5. MPLS and SD-WAN:
Deploy Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) or Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions to provide dedicated network paths and prioritize VoIP traffic over other data.

6. Cloud-based VoIP Providers:
Consider switching to cloud-based VoIP providers like Nextiva, RingCentral, JustCall, 8×8, or Zoom Phone. These services often include built-in QoS management to ensure high-quality calls.

7. Managed Service Providers (MSPs):
Engage with MSPs specializing in VoIP and QoS optimization. They can handle the technical aspects, including configuration and monitoring.

8. Hybrid Solutions:
Implement hybrid solutions that combine on-premises hardware and cloud services to achieve optimal QoS while minimizing costs.

9. Network Assessment Tools:
Regularly use network assessment tools to evaluate the health of your VoIP network. These tools can detect problems before they impact call quality.

10. Regular Updates and Maintenance:
Keep all VoIP-related hardware, software, and firmware up-to-date. Manufacturers often release updates to improve QoS and security.


In conclusion, Quality of Service (QoS) is the linchpin of high-quality VoIP calls for small businesses. We’ve covered a wealth of information to help you understand, troubleshoot, and optimize your QoS setup.

Here are the key takeaways:

Common QoS Problems: We explored common issues like insufficient bandwidth, congestion, packet loss, jitter, and latency that can plague VoIP calls in small businesses.

Causes of QoS Problems: We discussed the factors contributing to QoS problems, from network congestion to outdated hardware.

Benefits of Implementing QoS: Implementing QoS leads to improved VoIP call quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, increased productivity, cost savings, and a competitive edge.

Impact of QoS: Neglecting QoS can harm customer relationships, operational efficiency, employee morale, and your business’s reputation.

How to Prevent QoS Problems: We provided practical tips such as network monitoring, traffic prioritization, router configuration, and ongoing maintenance.

Cost of Implementing QoS: We highlighted potential costs, including hardware, IT support, bandwidth upgrades, software, training, and ongoing maintenance. We also suggested cost mitigation strategies.

Tips for Monitoring QoS: Monitoring your network’s QoS involves using network monitoring tools, setting baselines, and analyzing historical data. We recommended tools and practices to ensure effective monitoring.

VoIP QoS Solutions: To enhance QoS for VoIP calls, we explored solutions like VoIP optimization software, traffic shaping, QoS routers, session border controllers, MPLS/SD-WAN, cloud-based providers, managed service providers, hybrid solutions, and network assessment tools.

In conclusion, small businesses must prioritize QoS to maintain high-quality VoIP calls. By addressing common problems and implementing the right solutions, you can ensure seamless communication and keep your business ahead of the curve in today’s digital landscape.

Remember, investing in QoS is an investment in the success of your business.

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