The Role of VoIP Codecs in the Call Audio Quality
VoIP technology has revolutionized video and audio calls. Almost anyone with a strong internet connection is now able to make and receive calls over the internet using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
VoIP technology relies heavily on VoIP codecs, which provide you with HD voice quality. Codecs also allow us to download movies in minutes. Other examples of codec usage lie in image capture (JPEG) format, encryption software (AES), music and audio recording software.
Codecs determine the quality and bandwidth we need to watch online videos on YouTube or other streaming services like Netflix.
The word Codec is a portmanteau of the two words: Compression and Decompression. VoIP codecs convert analog voice signals into digital packets in a compressed digital form and transmit them to another side to be decompressed as audio signals again. The main goal of compression is to reduce the bandwidth used during a call, so you get clearer audio and low latency.
The right VoIP codec choice influences a call’s quality and latency in a conversation as such calls take place through the internet. Therefore, we recommend you look out for which codecs your VoIP uses so you get the best call quality your business is aiming towards in addition to saving your internet’s bandwidth.
There are several codec types to choose from, and making the right choice can be tricky. We will list a few of the best VoIP codecs for businesses and provide a brief summary without getting into all the technical talk.
The G.711 codec was first introduced in 1972 for telephony use by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
This Codec delivers premium sound quality but at the cost of high bandwidth. It also does not support multiple phone calls as sufficiently as other codecs that we will mention next.
Most VoIP applications and software are compatible with the G.711 codec and require no licensing fees.
This Codec is also free to use by anyone as its patent has expired. It was first introduced in 1988, and it boosts speech quality without causing latency.
The G.729 codec is a great option that provides good audio quality with relatively low bandwidth. However, some VoIP providers may not support this Codec.
We recommend you use a bandwidth calculator to know your bandwidth needs, as the VoIP codec bandwidth is determined by the number of VoIP lines you have. You can find the bandwidth calculator here.
The way codecs improve quality basically lies in the way they compress audio. Lossy compression is used, which means unnecessary data is lost in compression. A codec can reduce audio data to one-eighth or one-tenth of its original size while still promising high-quality VoIP call audio.
Each VoIP codec has its benefits and drawbacks, and those usually lie in how they compress audio files. All codecs have the main goal: to provide clearer audio quality over the internet by compressing data and quickly transferring it.
It is recommended that you calculate your bandwidth needs and know how many VoIP lines you will be using not to compromise your call quality and latency or your internet’s performance.
Now that we have discussed VoIP codecs and their role in-call audio quality, let us present you with our top business VoIP phone systems that use the best codecs and promise a super clear audio quality.
Ooma is our top recommendation for a business VoIP phone system. Ooma was founded in 2004 and has grown to become one of the most known and trusted VoIP phone systems. In 2016, it earned its accreditation from the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating.
Ooma promises a 99.999% uptime with SLA certification, which is a high-security measure standard. All your calls with Ooma will be encrypted, so you need not worry about any security issues.
Ooma provides a wide range of great features with its VoIP phone system, some of which include the following:
- Call forwarding
- Call waiting
- Virtual faxes
- Text messages
- Virtual receptionist
- 3-click provisioning
- Video conferencing
- Call recording
- Voicemail transcription
- Graphic interactive voice response
- Calculates wait time in queues
- Call builder
- Intelligent routing feature
As for its subscription, you are offered four plans:
Ooma Office: $19.95/month per user
Ooma Office Pro: $24.95/month per user
Ooma Enterprise: $27.99/month per user
Ooma Enterprise Call Center: $49.99/month per user
Each plan offers a set of features and capabilities, and you get the fully-featured package with the Ooma Enterprise Call Center plan, which is best for large businesses, enterprises, and call centers.
RingCentral is our second recommendation for the best business VoIP phone systems that promise a 99.99% uptime and crystal clear call audio quality. It offers feature-packed plans that businesses and customers highly praise at great prices.
RingCentral can scale with your business and grow alongside it, so you do not have to worry about changing your VoIP provider as your business grows and its needs get merrier. It supports governmental businesses, educational, healthcare, legal, accounting, and financial services.
RingCentral provides four subscription plans for its VoIP phone system, and each comes with a set of features. Here is a brief summary of their plans:
Essentials: $19.99 per month, billed annually
The Essentials plan provides you with all basic necessities your small business may need, such as:
- Team messaging
- Unlimited calls within the United States and Canada
- Unlimited business SMS
- Document sharing
- High-definition audio quality
- Toll-free and business phone numbers
Standard: $27.99 per month, billed annually
The Standard plan provides slightly extra functionality to the Essentials plan. Extra features include:
- Business phone numbers in more than 100 countries
- Unlimited internet fax
- Unlimited audio conferencing
- Up to 24-hour meetings
- Video meetings with up to 100 participants
- 24/7 service support
- Quality-of-service reports
- Collaborative software integrations such as Google Workspace, Slack, and Microsoft 365
- High-definition video quality
Premium: $34.99 per month, billed annually
The Premium plan is more suited for medium-sized businesses. It provides CRM software integrations and enhanced capabilities and features, such as:
- Automatic call recording
- Single sign-on
- Hot desking
- Admin and management for multiple sites
- Advanced call handling
- Video meetings with up to 200 participants
Ultimate: $49.99 per month, billed annually
The Ultimate plan is the fully-featured package, where you get all the previously mentioned features in all the other plans. It is a great option for enterprises and large businesses, as it also provides them with unlimited cloud storage and advanced features.
Our last recommendation for one of the best VoIP phone systems is for Dialpad. Dialpad provides a comprehensive set of rich features and clear audio call quality. Besides its VoIP subscription plans, Dialpad also offers some extra products and services that provide unique features and functions, such as:
- UberConference Business Service: $15
- Dialpad Contact Center Service: $75
- Dialpad Contact Center Enterprise Service: Quote-based
- Dialpad Sell Enterprise Service: Quote-based
As for its VoIP features, here are some of Dialpad's offers:
- Unlimited calling
- Call recording
- Number forwarding
- Call transcription
- Three-way calling
- Custom routing
- Spam detection
- Call switching
- Multi-level auto attendant
You are offered three subscription plans for Dialpad’s business VoIP phone system:
Dialpad Talk Standard plan: $15/user/month
Dialpad Talk Pro plan: $25/user/month
Dialpad Talk Enterprise plan: Quote-based