The deployment in this case involves the process of ensuring that VoIP services are put into operation to be used by clients across the wider communication network. The VoIP itself is the technology that permits the processing of voice message and its transfer over internet protocol (IP) networks. Some of the examples of the IP networks are internet and Ethernet LANs. In fact, voice over internet protocol is a technique and a collection of numerous technologies that help in the delivery of voice communications plus sessions of the multimedia over internet protocol networks. IP telephony, broadband telephony, IP communications, internet telephony, broadband phone service, as well as voice over broadband, are some of the additional terms that are normally connected to voice over internet protocol (Bigelow, 2008).
There are a number of VoIP issues at Safaricom Company that at times affect the communication process. They include bandwidth, resilience and quality of service offered. However, bandwidth seems to be the main issue in this company since all other challenges is as a result of it. Bandwidth is the range of frequencies that represent information signal. As a result, low bandwidth leads to weak signal communication. Every client evaluation, therefore, ought to begin with bandwidth capacity planning because VoIP voice quality degrades rapidly with conflicts from other applications. Weak bandwidth consequently results to low network capacity. The network capacity is the number of simultaneous calls that a given network can process, that is, the maximum assumed volume of data that the network should be able to handle which becomes the basis of VoIP capacity planning(Bigelow, 2008, Goode, 2002).
The process of planning and implementing VoIP becomes easier if the company decides that the network of clients has sufficient bandwidth currently and in prospect. VoIP can best be understood by the elements involved in it. Some of the elements here include handsets, the existing Local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN), the VoIP service provider; telco provider including network appliances. LAN services involve communication within a limited geographical space such as within offices. WAN, on the other hand, is the communication that takes place within a large geographical coverage such as countries and continents. The overall communication, via the help of these elements, is such that voice is first transformed from analogue to the digital stream of data. This is later enclosed into network packets. Data packet is a container of different messages each travelling to different destinations. Some large ventures might prefer to carry out this signal transformation within telephone device itself. It is achieved by employing specially designed internet handsets that connect directly to the internet protocol network. Eventually, they will convey the data to the to a VoIP network appliance which in many cases is situated in the LAN at the firewall prior to the router (Bigelow, 2008, Goode, 2002).
In several smaller industries, analog signals coming from telephone conferences are conveyed through the available telephone wiring to a network piece of equipment that manages the translation. The VoIP network equipment in addition, it manages the channel of communication. Other functions of VoIP network equipment include handling signals, support of higher services such as caller ID or call waiting and sets up a link through the router to the Wide area network, which in turn relays data to the VoIP provider. The principal of using VoIP services is due to its simplicity and relatively low cost of clients which are one of the service level agreements between both the VoIP providers and companies as well as between the companies and their final clients (Keromytis, 2012).
There has been continuous downtime due to network failures especially during peak times. The downtimes have brought about complaints being directed to Safaricom Company by several clients that use their VoIP communication services. The failures are as a result of the issues mentioned above such as poor bandwidth, compromised service quality and low resilience/flexibility caused by the high number of subscribers and other network users. Nevertheless, low bandwidth is the leading cause of these failures. Although Quality of Service (QoS) is viewed as a separate network attribute, it must be coupled closely with the sufficient bandwidth in order to enhance the general performance of VoIP communication network. The main purpose of this paper is to come up with a project that will help in solving this problem of downtime as Safaricom Company continues the deployment plan of its VoIP services to various clients (Keromytis, 2012, Minoli, 2011).
The major objective of the project, therefore, is to ensure that the bandwidth is increased to an accepted level by various clients that are mainly business ventures. This reduction will start by the analysis of the current bandwidth offered by babyTEL in relation to the desired bandwidth level. It is expected that the final result of the entire project will give the required bandwidth recommendations. This recommendation bandwidth will then be implemented by the company will contribute further to the increased quality of service that is satisfactory to all customers. The overall quality of service will thus be achieved through the objective of bandwidth enhancement (Keromytis, 2012, Minoli, 2011).
The objective is to measure the full bandwidth on the network of clients, and approximate the present bandwidth use of applications. Also, it aims to choose if there is sufficient outstanding or unused bandwidth to maintain the highest number of planned voice channels, say about 64 kbps for every channel. It will then try to forecast the quantity of bandwidth required by either applications or various users into the expected prospect (Bigelow, 2008). For good quality of service, 128 Mbps is used by integrated services digital network (ISDN) can be used for VoIP services, though, for fixed and dedicated services. 512 Mbps offered by most providers is largely sufficient for VoIP communication (Unuth, 2014). Since the cost is a crucial factor in the choice of bandwidth, the project aims to recommend to the Safaricom Company to decide on either of the above stated bandwidth speed. Needless to say, cost will be the determining factor on the bandwidth choice.
Bandwidth is a recurring issue as data to be accessed through the network keep on increasing with time. The choice of bandwidth, therefore, ought to take into an account the future needs of the VoIP network. Every activity done, in this project, will, thus, be measured against the chosen bandwidth that will be implemented. The Internet link constantly tops the list of issues that affect voice quality in VoIP exchange. The bandwidth that one has for VoIP is the solution for voice quality, which also enhances reliability. Quality and reliability were the two limiting issues on the reputation of VoIP for the past years. This means that bandwidth enhancement is the key to improving the desired service quality in VoIP network. Consequently, the bandwidth enhancement helps in minimizing down time which is the main problem to be overcome in the case of Safaricom service provision. At times, the frequency of IP phone in operation might cause interference with additional VoIP equipment. There are several cases where individuals who employ the use of 5.8 GHz phones have been receiving voice quality troubles. In cases where all troubleshooting actions are unsuccessful, changing the phone to one with a lower frequency bandwidth like 2.4 GHz answered the problem (Unuth, 2014).
The main problem here is network downtime from the problem statement which comes as a result of issues already mentioned earlier such as limited bandwidth. With an increase in the use of internet by different businesses and individuals, the contention for bandwidth amid the data and the activity of VoIP can create problems. Businesses are evolving quicker as the individual subscribers also increase with time. Because of this, the overall number of users continues to increase faster than the suppliers of bandwidth to contain the existing demand. The wide-ranging use of internet keeps on picking up the pace, both for personal and business functions.
Safaricom is a telecommunication Company with its wider market in east Africa with Kenya being the largest market. The company uses VoIP network services which the company does not offer for international calls. In other words, the VoIP services have not yet been deployed, fully, by Safaricom to the wide global internet. The company has over 13.8 mobile subscribers in Kenya excluding businesses, which has resulted to network saturation within the country (Wandeto & Acosta, 2013). If this is the leading cause of downtime, then full implementation of VoIP, to the international level, which requires large bandwidth, will incapacitate the whole communication network. However, the crucial question is whether an increase in bandwidth followed by full implementation of VoIP services will stop the downtime. This question is vital because there is already an existing downtime and network failure during peak times even before the full deployment of VoIP network services. The issue of increasing bandwidth is also a tricky idea. This bandwidth increase happens because VoIP calls do not utilize high bandwidth as less than 80kb per call is used. However, voice and data packets do share the same connection, and as a result, there is a continuous opportunity for data packets to interrupt the voice packets. Increasing bandwidth may be beneficial in such a case although expanding bandwidth does not always solve the issue (Greim, 2014).
If a router or transparent bridge which has Quality of Service (QoS) programming integrated, it can ensure that voice calls are given priority. This permits the business to have the existing bandwidth matched with the needs of the business instead of increasing the bandwidth just for the sake of VoIP services. Surely, there are instances whereby the quantity of data activity is over-saturated within the network bandwidth. In situations like those, Quality of Service (QoS) will not be capable of working the way it should and thus the issue of bandwidth will now have to be addressed. Apart from offering a localized quality of service device, customers ought to be helped in order to troubleshoot the existing issues with their internet circuit. This troubleshooting can easily help them find the cause of call quality problems. This troubleshooting can also save users from blindly increasing bandwidth which is exceedingly costly in terms of finances. As far as voice applications are concerned, when accompany makes use of hosted VoIP service, the packets of voice message travels over similar internet connection just like the data packets. Good VoIP companies should either provide quality of service device or program the routers for the purpose of prioritizing voice packets over data to certain that the calls remain clear and immune from any interruption (Greim, 2014). It is, therefore, safe to deduce that that decision to increase the bandwidth will not provide an automatic solution to VoIP network. Service degradation for both voice and data may be because other issues, which could be solved rather than just deciding to add the additional bandwidth. It also clear that bandwidth is hugely expensive in terms of cost wise and, therefore, the choice to settle on bandwidth addition should be a decisive and a realistic process unless the cost is not an issue in the process of reducing service downtime.
We also need to analyze how the bandwidth a business VoIP phone will require. The reality is that VoIP calls do not need a large amount of bandwidth. Instead of enlarging this bandwidth, there are fine-tunings that can be made to compress the requirements more extra. Again, the simultaneous voice calls are not limited to a given number of analogue lines that is provisioned for the company. While using VoIP services, the only limitation is the size of bandwidth available. In case there is flooding of simultaneous calls, then several systems of VoIP will receive the call and send it to the voicemail of your company. Consequently, there will be no busy signal to be heard by customers. This scenario, however, make the issue of bandwidth necessities again extremely appropriate. To make just one voice call, 80k of bandwidth is needed but in a none-compacted situation. Therefore, if say, 10 calls are active in a given communication system, the 800 k of bandwidth will be required. Nevertheless, using the practice of utilizing voice compaction is common in especially helping in conservation of bandwidth with no substantial sacrifice of voice quality. This is applicable particularly if the corresponding VoIP provider offers Quality of service software in the company of their service (Greim, 2014).
In simple mathematics, the highest volume of simultaneous call when multiplied by 80k (bandwidth needed per call) ought to be less than the lower of the speeds of upload/download recorded on the speed test. It is recommended that the highest voice call transfer of packet does absorb form 40-50% of the available bandwidth. Although this is, completely, dependent upon the requirements of data. In addition, the deployment of compressed codec will be necessary prior to bandwidth consideration. In the real sense, the size of bandwidth the company has been not the only parameter required in order to deliver the quality of phone conversations with voice over internet protocol. Scores of service providers overcome voice quality concerns by over sizing bandwidth. However, this does not mean that other solutions do not exist (Greim, 2014). In addition, the performance problems of network down time faced by VoIP network emanates from its packet switching. The bandwidth that the link connects to the interface is limited; hence the resources of the router are shared which results in various performances malfunction (Ganguly & Bhatnagar, 2011).
Another cause of down time at Safaricom Company is poor Quality of service (QoS) issue as mentioned in the problem statement which is closely related to bandwidth. In essence, the present network design needs alteration in order to realize the desired QoS models. This means that there is a need to alter service models as well as to modify the functionality of the existing router in order to support the new services. The stateful and stateless architectures are the principle designs of QoS to be modified with stateful design needing per-flow states at all routers. On the other hand, the stateless architectures normally do not have such necessities. Practically, the stateless design is core-stateless whereby the edge router of a given domain upholds per-flow state of which the core routers do not. The stateless design has an advantage of being able to eliminate packet classification operations that are costly at the core routers. Several router functionalities in both the architectures are modified. This modification will in turn offer diverse levels of guarantee, in addition to, having diverse levels of impact on the scalability. Service guarantee semantics aim to offer per flow bandwidth as well as delay guarantees whereby routers have to ensure that the transmitted packets are not dropped provided that they comply with the traffic specification (Ganguly & Bhatnagar, 2011).
Recommended Solution and Implementation Recommended Solution
The problem and the associated issues analyzed above can be solved by first programming the routers. This programming is done in order to prioritize the transmitted packets over data to ensure that VoIP calls remains not only clear but also free from interruption. The second solution is to have Safaricom ask for better company service providers. The service can offer Quality of Service device, in addition to providing localized quality device. The Safaricom should also help its customers or clients to troubleshoot issues with their internet circuit for the purpose of finding the cause of call quality concerns. The company should also ensure that their service provider is capable of providing Quality of service implementation on their network. Another crucial part of the solution is to separate voice and data networks. This separation will ensure that all calls and phones are not affected any more by customer’s data usage. Also, part of this solution is to ensure that the company provides either better or similar service quality to that of PSTN, in addition to cheap services, to enable them to motivate the end-users to shift to VoIP services (Greim, 2014, Ganguly & Bhatnagar, 2011).
Since Safaricom as accompany has not fully deployed VoIP services to international level, it can also test whether they are ready for VoIP phone services. The testing process is in the sequence described as follows: First is to perform the running speed test of their bandwidth by the Safaricom itself after when the download and upload speeds are recorded. This is done in different times of the day for some given number of days. The main aim of performing this test is to be able to find download speeds that are sufficient. This need is in order to handle voice and data volume with steady results. The next part of this test is to run an extended ping test by pinging the possible service providers in order to check the latency amid the company and the providers’ server. This is done for the reason of looking for a result that is under 110 milliseconds on the minimum side. The third test involves examining the packet loss in which any packet loss should not be experienced for a steady connection or link. This is because VoIP services rely on a no to extremely low packet loss. In a case whereby packet loss advances 2%, then the company ought to contact the respective service provider for line service. The next test is to determine the company’s simultaneous call volume. This can be done through observation or comprehending at which point busy signals are received on the analogue system. If, for instance, there are ten incoming lines, and either the company or their client still experiences busy signals, then the highest simultaneous call is greater than ten. Last but not least, the test can be conducted by arithmetic multiplication of required bandwidth per call by the total number of calls. If the result goes beyond half of the available bandwidth, then the maximum concurrent call volume is beyond the lower of the upload or download speeds recorded on the speed test (Greim, 2014, Keromytis, 2012).
The solution offered in this case tries as much as possible to avoid the issue of increasing more bandwidth, which is known to be a hugely expensive action if considered. Compressed codec could also be considered, prior to considering more bandwidth. The compression of voice message is also a way of fine-tuning the current bandwidth thus increasing the Quality of service without an added bandwidth (Greim, 2014, Ganguly & Bhatnagar, 2011). The solution methods recommended, in this case, are, therefore, given on the basis of cost saving and with the evaluation of, what is more, affordable even in the situation where the company in question has sufficient funds.
As far as the anticipated outcomes are concerned, each of the solutions recommended above may have some merits and demerits. An excellent example is the issue of programming the routers. In this case if the down time is already there with the router already programmed, then the option will not work. However, if the router had not been programmed earlier, then the option is expected to do away with voice interruptions. The voice calls thus become clear and consequently down time is reduced. The need to have reliable company service providers, to offer exceptional quality service will also contribute to reducing downtime, dramatically. Hence, it will result to high VoIP network performance. However, this will take place with an added cost of offering the service especially if the case is that of bandwidth issue. The idea of troubleshooting network issues by the company can sometimes take a lot of time, thus creating communication delays on the customer side. However, carrying out the troubleshooting process by the company can help reduce the cost of network service as compared to when the same is done by service providers.
Separation of voice and data networks will eliminate bandwidth sharing, hence, no interference with calls during communication. As a result, downtime is also reduced. The challenge is that this separation of voice and data may require separate channel bandwidth which in turn results to additional cost. The voice compression will help in minimizing the cost of reducing down time since it will eliminate the issue of buying extra bandwidth as discussed earlier. The problem with this compression is that a limit may be reached due to high data traffic hence May at times become ineffective as the network continues to expand. The process of testing the readiness for VoIP can help safari on to know its weakness and strengths in advance. This helps in eliminating the existing weaknesses while at the same time improving on the strengths.
I would like to recommend to the manager of Safaricom Company to try this project by giving it priority. This will help the company if they are to realize stable VoIP network both now and in future. Some of the risks which may involve during this implementation are prolonged down time which will inconvenience the customers. This is because some communication gadgets such as routers and others will have to be disconnected during such maintenance processes. As a result, Safaricom Company may also risk losing a considerable amount of income as nearly all network business may come to a standstill. In case this proposed implementation fails, then the option of buying higher bandwidth that the recommendation tries to avoid will take the course irrespective of the cost provided that the company still opts to exist.
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