Gauteng Business News

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VOIP: Solving the Challenges Of VoIP in South Africa


Recent Gauteng Business News

As bandwidth has become more widely available and affordable in the local market, a host of possibilities have opened up and Voice over IP (VoIP) in South Africa has been touted as the next great technology, offering businesses and consumers a cost effective alternative to traditional fixed-line telephony, says Ernst Ohlhoff, VoIP Business Unit Manager at Nology

In the past, the biggest barrier to entry for VoIP was that the benefits were outweighed by the expense of bandwidth. However, while this has changed and broadband is now more widely available, cheaper and faster, VoIP still does not work as it should, and jittery calls, latency and dropped lines are a common experience for those businesses and consumers that have adopted the technology.

These issues are the result of a number of challenges experienced in the local market. Firstly, there remains a high number of poor implementations, resulting from a lack of industry skills and poorly planned VoIP networks.

Secondly, the convergence of voice and data as well as cost constraints of having separate infrastructure for both to run off IP has led to single lines carrying both voice and data traffic. The problem here is that data automatically takes priority over voice, often using all of the available bandwidth and accounting for a large proportion of the latency and jitter issues experienced with VoIP.

VoIP In South Africa Is Nearly There

The final challenge is that of last mile connectivity. Although the landing of several undersea cables in recent years has made a lot more international bandwidth available for inland distribution, the internal infrastructure has not kept pace and there is an overload of users sharing the exchanges. This means that a lot of capacity is delivered to central points, but users are unable to access this, resulting in a last mile that is of far lower capacity and speed.

While we await the unbundling of the local loop and the upskilling of local implementers, new technology has made VoIP a truly viable, reliable and quality option for businesses and consumers. VoIP over Internet Broadband Enhancement (ViBE) technology works by stripping away protocol overhead and removing routing packets to stream only the actual voice, minimising the amount of bandwidth needed to deliver clarity in VoIP calls and improving the efficiency of voice transmission.

By removing unnecessary protocol transmissions, this technology also enables more VoIP calls to be made on the same line, rendering the bottleneck at the last mile inconsequential. VoIP enhancement technology manages voice and data on the same link effectively, providing Quality of Service (QoS) to always give time sensitive voice transmissions priority and still send the maximum amount of both voice and data simultaneously.

What Awaits Users of VoIP in South Africa

This technology also has the ability to make use of multiple links such as ADSL and wireless or 3G, providing automatic failover between links should one connection drop, delivering a smooth, seamless voice call without a single point of failure.

ViBE technology has a variety of applications. For example, an organisation wishing to move to VoIP would traditionally have to rent additional ADSL lines, which would then end up costing more than a traditional analogue rental. However, with VoIP enhancement, just one ADSL line gives an organisation the ability to conduct up to thirty simultaneous voice calls without the need for extra lines just to handle voice traffic.

For customers with leased lines such as Diginet, which typically cost significantly more than broadband, this technology also opens up the possibilities of VoIP. Instead of requiring the purchasing or leasing of another line when capacity has been reached on VoIP calls, the addition of ViBE will enable organisations to add capacity for voice traffic while minimising the cost involved.

ViBE also opens up new markets where VoIP was previously impossible, such as VoIP over satellite connectivity, which in the past was prohibitively expensive if it could be achieved at all. By minimising the amount of bandwidth required to make VoIP calls, this new technology brings the power of VoIP to markets where traditional connectivity is not a possibility due to remote geography and lack of infrastructure.

ViBE technology makes VoIP in South Africa work in the real world by reducing infrastructure costs, improving call quality, improving data throughput and reducing latency, managing voice networks effectively and removing points of failure.

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