VoIP calls – how it became popular in South Africa

Not too long ago, Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls had a reputation for poor call quality. Advances in network infrastructure and new technologies have helped it evolve to the point where it overtakes traditional challenges.

VoIP call quality is also expected to improve as 5G becomes more widely available in South Africa.

According to Euphoria Telecom’s director of technology, Nick Laschinger, VoIP call quality has improved dramatically over the past decade, from the point where it was associated with poor quality to the point where it outperforms traditional calls.

“The quality of voice calls over VoIP and mobile calls in South Africa has improved to the point that digital communications have largely outperformed analog channels in both the commercial and residential markets,” Laschinger said.

“Today, we don’t think anything about WhatsApp voice calls, which even a few years ago, for example, would have been disruptive and frustrating.”

Laschinger attributes the improvements to better technology, faster speeds, and lower network latency.

“The combination of all this resulted in an improvement in the quality of voice calls,” he said. “This is mainly due to the better connectivity available in the broadband landscape.”

Laschinger explained that Wi-Fi connectivity is expected to continue to improve as 5G becomes more widely available in the country.

“The wider and better bandwidth has improved the quality of communication even in Wi-Fi networks. This improvement will continue as 5G rollout accelerates and fiber will completely overtake its older copper competitors,” he said.

He explained that VoIP telephony providers put a lot of time and effort into developing their systems to provide better call quality, which is mainly affected by bandwidth.

Laschinger added that Euphoria Telecom recommends certain minimum speeds to its customers to ensure quality service.

Nick Laschinger, CTO of Euphoria Telecom

“It depends on bandwidth, and as a result, we recommend certain minimum bandwidth rates, but as far as we can, we ensure that our systems provide a quality experience across the board,” he said.

Andrew King, Vox Telecom’s head of voice, visual communications and gaming, told MyBroadband that the improvement in voice quality over the years can be attributed to advances in two aspects of quality VoIP service delivery – last mile connectivity and carrier network infrastructure.

“A few years ago, last mile connectivity options were limited and the connection speed was not sufficient for reliable voice transmission,” King said.

“Quality use of VoIP in the last mile depends on minimizing packet loss, jitter and latency.”

King explained that the exponential growth in the availability of fiber in South Africa helped solve these problems.

He also said that Vox customers can prioritize voice traffic over less time-dependent internet traffic with voice quality of service (QoS) configurations available on carrier-class routers.

“Vox has developed proprietary QoS configurations for both fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-business to prioritize and secure voice and other real-time traffic such as video calls,” King said.

“This QoS ensures that individual and group call participants receive professional quality voice and video calls, no matter what other traffic passes through the home or business network.”

He explained that while last mile connectivity is critical, providing reliable voice services also requires a stable voice backbone.

“Core networks designed with a conservative capacity planning approach that are redundant in terms of both routing and power usually provide a quality backbone to deliver reliable voice service,” he said.

“Thanks to QoS technologies implemented in the voice network, our customers’ traffic takes precedence over all of our local, national and international networks.”

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