This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
A voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system connects your employees and customers, but the quality depends partially on your internet services. A VoIP speed test details your upload and download speeds, jitter, and ping, all of which are vital to reliable, high-quality communications. Below, you can learn how to test your connection and determine your company’s VoIP speed requirements.
What the VoIP Speed Test Numbers Mean
VoIP testing tools measure speed and quality metrics, but it’s crucial to understand what those numbers mean in relation to your business phone system and internet requirements. For instance, higher VoIP ping test results aren’t desirable, whereas higher upload and download speeds are. The following metrics help you decide if your internet connection can support VoIP business calls.
Upload speed refers to how fast your data packets move from your device to the internet. It affects the length of time required to send a large file or video to another person. A VoIP test measures upload speed in megabits per second (Mbps). Higher numbers equal better call quality.
However, your upload speed will be lower than your download speed unless you have a symmetrical or dedicated business internet connection. For this reason, you should calculate your total bandwidth based on your upload speed, not your download speed.
VoIP upload speed requirements vary by provider. For instance, RingCentral considers 90 kilobits per second (Kbps) the bare minimum, whereas Ooma recommends 256 Kbps “for each simultaneous call during peak usage times.” We recommend having a minimum of 100 Kbps per concurrent call for best results.
Download speed refers to how quickly you receive data packets from the internet. It’s measured in Mbps and affects activities, such as streaming videos and accessing cloud-based software. Your download speed should be equal to or higher than your upload speed.
Most small business internet services provide higher download speeds than upload, so reviewing the lower of the two numbers is crucial. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends a minimum download speed of fewer than 0.5 Mbps for a VoIP call and 1.5 Mbps for a one-on-one high-definition (HD) video call.
A VoIP ping test calculates the number of milliseconds (ms) it takes for your data packets to reach the server. Higher ping numbers result in audio packets being delayed. It creates delays and echoes during VoIP calls. While ping tracks the one-way trip to the server, latency covers the whole trip (ping and pong responses).
Verify if your VoIP speed test refers to ping or latency to ensure you understand the results correctly. Ping test results of less than 60 ms are preferable, whereas latency over 150 ms is detrimental to VoIP calls. Higher numbers indicate that you may want to adjust your router settings to prioritize VoIP calls, which can be extremely helpful during high-traffic hours.
Jitter directly impacts call quality with higher numbers resulting in dropped calls, distortion, and static. Like ping and latency, a VoIP speed test for jitter uses milliseconds for measurement. Delays of 30 ms or more cause packet loss and severely affect your audio quality.
If your test finds a problem with your jitter rate, you should review your internet connection quality. In some cases, if your upload and download speeds are reasonable but jitter remains high, you could adjust your network’s quality of service (QoS) setting as recommended for high ping rates.
Why You Should Perform a VoIP Speed Test
Your internet connection and network play a significant role in your business outcomes—from delivering cohesive customer experiences to increasing team productivity. Likewise, your business phone system enables virtual sales calls and project collaboration. A VoIP bandwidth test provides visibility into your network capabilities, allowing you to answer questions about how many devices you can connect or simultaneous calls your staff can make.
According to Deloitte, more than 90% of all small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) use digital tools, such as video conferencing and social media, for communication purposes. A VoIP speed test helps you understand if your phone system will impact other internet-based activities.
Before investing in a new business phone system, a test determines if your office or storefront has the best internet speed for VoIP. Regular testing ensures your internet service provider (ISP) meets service level agreement (SLA) guarantees.
Here are five reasons why you should perform a VoIP quality test:
- Measure network performance: Confirm that your internet service works equally well throughout the day and matches the speeds your ISP promised.
- Discover barriers to business growth: Use a VoIP broadband test to learn if your network supports additional employees, devices, or communication tools.
- Uncover gaps in network connectivity: Check wired and wireless connections in multiple locations to verify that your team can answer calls from various spaces.
- Ensure a faster return on your investment (ROI): Boost productivity and customer satisfaction scores from the get-go by meeting VoIP upload speed requirements.
- Reduce risks from adopting new technologies: Unforeseen problems with speed or latency put your reputation at risk. A VoIP speed test reveals potential vulnerabilities.
How a Poor VoIP Connection Affects Your Business
Few things are worse than implementing a new business phone system only to experience performance issues. Slow or unreliable connections can halt your technology rollout and decrease employee adoption rates. A lack of bandwidth makes your VoIP system less effective and could impact other workflows, including online project management and team collaboration.
As a result, a poor VoIP connection can lead to:
- Poor customer experiences: Glitchy phone calls fragment the customer experience, leading to frustration and misunderstandings.
- Reduced productivity: If audio and video calls hog too much bandwidth, other work activities are affected, resulting in wasted seconds while teams wait for software to load.
- Reputational impacts: Callers and customers will mention your phone issues to others, possibly complaining about not being able to reach your company or hear a technician.
- Negative employee experiences: Like customers, your staff will feel frustrated if there’s always a problem with your phone system or internet connection.
How to Do a Manual VoIP Speed Test
Perform a manual VoIP quality test to determine how many lines your internet connection can handle. First, you need your upload speed as reported by a speed test tool. Then, use the following formula to convert the Mbps speed results to Kbps and find your estimated capacity.
Here’s the VoIP speed test formula:
- Multiply your upload speed by 1,000: If your speed test uses megabits per second (Mbps), use this formula to turn your Mbps into Kbps (kilobits per second).
- Divide your result from step 1 by 445: This figure equals the recommended total number of phone lines that your internet connection will support.
- Divide your result from step 1 by 100: This refers to the total number of lines possible if your network connection is dedicated to VoIP services only.
Below are speed test results for standard internet services typically used in a small office. The VoIP ping test shows 9 ms, well under the recommended 60 ms. The upload speed of 11.01 Mbps reflects the bandwidth. Using the formula above, speeds of 11 Mbps support a maximum of 110 phone lines. However, only 24 are recommended.
How Many Calls Can My Connection Support?
The number of concurrent calls your connection can support depends on your bandwidth. Look at your current internet package to find your upload speed. It usually ranges from 3 Mbps to 35 Mbps for cable internet connections and can go up to 5,000 Mbps or 5 gigabits per second (Gbps) for dedicated, fiber optic lines.
If, on the off chance, your upload speed is higher than your download speed, use the lower number to calculate your internet capacity. Alternatively, you can perform a VoIP speed test to find your upload speed. Then either view the chart below or work through the formula above to get your maximum and recommended numbers.
Bandwidth (Upload Speed)
Maximum # Lines
Recommended # Lines
VoIP Bandwidth Requirements
Every internet-connected device and online task uses bandwidth, including your cloud-based phone system, which sends audio and video packets over the internet. Since speed recommendations vary by phone provider, it’s best to understand your network capability, phone line requirements, and the costs to upgrade. The chart below accounts for network speed fluctuation and online office activities, such as using software as a service (SaaS) applications or checking email.
Find your upload speed to see how much bandwidth is available for VoIP:
Bandwidth (Upload Speed)
Bandwidth Fluctuation (Subtract)
Internet Browsing Activity (Subtract)
Bandwidth Available for VoIP
Maximum Number of Concurrent Phone Calls
- 105 Kbps
- 250 Kbps
1 phone call
- 205 Kbps
- 500 Kbps
2 concurrent phone calls
- 1.05 Kbps
- 2.75 Mbps
11 concurrent phone calls
- 2.1 Kbps
- 5.5 Mbps
22 concurrent phone calls
- 6.3 Kbps
- 16.75 Mbps
67 concurrent phone calls
Keep in mind that your results may differ depending on your office activities. For instance, if your team frequently hosts webinars or participates in video meetings, they may use more than the expected amount of bandwidth. According to the FCC, just one person streaming an ultra-HD 4K video uses 25 Mbps, and HD video teleconferencing uses six. This is much more than the typical 1 Mbps for internet browsing or the minimum of 250 Kbps noted in the above chart.
What To Do if You Get a Poor Bandwidth Test Result
One result that’s less than satisfactory isn’t necessarily a problem. Double-check that your internet line wasn’t used when you completed the first VoIP speed test. Also, if you ran your test using a wireless connection, try it on a computer that’s hard-wired to your internet modem. Take a couple of measurements to ensure your original rate wasn’t a fluke.
If there’s a significant difference between your Wi-Fi and wired test, the problem could be with your wireless router. Outdated firmware or a router with a broken port could cause your wireless internet to run slower. Physical obstructions in your building or signal interference can also make your Wi-Fi sluggish.
However, if your wired connection produces the same results, take these steps:
- Confirm that your power and Ethernet cables are damage-free and connected securely.
- Unplug and reboot your internet modem and computer.
- Scan your internet network and connected devices for malware and viruses.
- Run through your ISP’s online troubleshooter if one is available.
Lastly, call your internet service provider. They may run a remote test to check your modem signal and schedule an appointment to review your lines. If your ISP confirms everything is working normally, you may want to upgrade your internet package to one with higher speeds.
Bandwidth speeds vary by provider and package. Small businesses are often limited to a few options for internet service in their area. Typically, cable internet connections are faster than digital subscriber line (DSL) lines, and fiber lines outperform DSL and cable.
What To Do if You Continue to Experience Poor Call Quality
If you regularly experience poor quality, the first thing you should do is check out our guide on how to fix packet loss and verify that you don’t have any connectivity issues. However, if you continue to experience issues, you will need to contact your VoIP provider. They may recommend solutions, such as updating your headset or prioritizing voice traffic on your router. However, ongoing call quality issues may signal a problem with your VoIP provider.
Look at your terms of service (ToS), service quality metrics, and features. See if your current provider offers high-definition audio. You can also go back and note if you have experienced more outages over the last year. Overall, if you’re not satisfied, research other options and consider switching providers to improve call quality.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What speed do I need for VoIP?
At a minimum, you need an upload speed of 100 Kbps (kilobits per second) for one phone line. Don’t forget to factor in bandwidth fluctuation and internet usage when figuring your VoIP upload speed requirements. For internet browsing and one phone line, we recommend having a minimum of 500 Kbps.
How can I test my VoIP connection?
Use an online VoIP speed test to measure your upload and download speeds, ping, and jitter rates. Choose a time when your internet service isn’t being used by others, and use a device that’s hard-wired to your internet modem.
Do VoIP phones affect internet speed?
VoIP phones use very little bandwidth, and the FCC recommends a minimum download speed of less than 0.5 Mbps for VoIP calls. However, your audio calls may be affected if you use your phone system for one-to-one or group video conferencing while receiving audio calls through the same internet connection.
Your available bandwidth affects call quality. Slow speeds result in delays on your line or jumbled conversations, and ultimately impact customer experiences. A VoIP speed test shows how much bandwidth your internet connection provides, and from there, you can calculate your business phone system requirements. Therefore, it’s best to complete a test before setting up a VoIP system.
Providers like RingCentral deliver VoIP speed requirements and implementation services to evaluate your network and determine the quality of service settings. After performing a speed test, take advantage of a 15-day free trial from RingCentral to see if it’s a good fit for your company.