The 4 Horseman of the Virtual PBX Apocalypse Part 2: Packet Loss

In this multiple part series, I’m covering the four evils that are the curse of high-quality Virtual PBX: Bandwidth, Jitter, Packet Loss and Latency. Today, we’ll discuss packet loss.

What is Packet Loss?

Packet loss occurs when one or more packets of data travelling across a computer network fails to reach their destination.

What Are the Causes of Packet Loss?

Packet loss can be caused by a number of factors including faulty routers and Ethernet switches and network congestion. However, even in a perfect network there is a small amount of packet loss. The good news is that a small amount of packet loss is imperceptible and does not noticeably degrade network performance or voice quality.

Retransmission Problems

TCP/IP (Internet protocol) re-transmits any lost packets so that the data transmissions are complete. However, excessive packet loss requires more retransmission, which in turn, consumes more bandwidth. The more bandwidth consumed, the greater the packet loss, so things can go downhill in a big hurry.

Can There Be an Acceptable Packet Loss?

Most networks have 0.1% to 0.3% packet loss. Up to 1% packet loss shouldn’t have a large effect on your calls. Over 1% will show up as “choppy” transmission. It is interesting to note that lost voice packets do not need to be replaced in real time. Lost packets for data files must be replaced or the data file will be incomplete or corrupt.

Packet Loss Solutions

If the packet loss problem is caused by a defective router, network card or Ethernet switch, the fix is simple– replace the offending piece of equipment.

If the problem is a congested network, you need to discover which part of the network is congested. If it is your business connection to the Internet which is congested, the solution again is simple, if not without cost. You must add more Internet bandwidth.

If the congestion is at the carrier level, then you’ve got a poor provider and you need to change to a quality San Francisco-based carrier that has the proper bandwidth to maintain acceptable quality. A carrier who doesn’t have proper bandwidth is committing to more capacity than they can deliver. My professional recommendation is to drop them like a hot potato.

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