Technology · June 24, 2022

VoIP calls – How it became popular in South Africa

Not long ago, Voice over 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 is overtaking traditional telephony.

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

According to Nic Laschinger, Euphoria Telecom’s chief technology officer, VoIP call quality has improved significantly over the past decade, from a point where it was associated with poor quality, and is overtaking traditional calls.

“Voice call quality in South Africa’s VoIP and mobile calling has advanced to the point where digital calls have largely overtaken analog channels in both the business and residential markets,” Laschinger said.

“We don’t believe in making a WhatsApp voice call today, something that would have been buggy and frustrating just a few years ago, for example.”

Laschinger attributes the improvements to better technologies, higher speeds and lower network latencies.

“A combination of all of these factors has resulted in improved voice call quality,” he said. “This is largely due to better connectivity in the broadband landscape.”

Laschinger explained that call quality over Wi-Fi networks is expected to continue to improve as 5G becomes more accessible in the country.

“More and better quality bandwidth has enabled improved call quality even over WiFi networks. This improvement will continue as 5G adoption accelerates and fiber completely overtakes its older copper competitors,” he said.

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

Laschinger added that Euphoria Telecom recommends certain minimum speeds for its customers to ensure a quality experience.

Nic Laschinger, chief technology officer at Euphoria Telecom

“This is affected by bandwidth and we therefore recommend certain minimum bandwidth speeds, but as far as we can we make sure our systems deliver a quality experience across the board,” he said.

Andrew King, Head of Voice, Visual Comms, and Gaming at Vox Telecom, told MyBroadband that the improvement in voice quality over the years is due to advances in two aspects of quality VoIP service delivery – last mile connectivity and network infrastructure of the operator.

“A few years ago, last-mile connectivity options were limited and connection speeds were not sufficient to reliably carry voice,” King said.

“A quality VoIP experience over the last mile depends on minimizing packet loss, jitter and latency.”

King explained that the exponential growth in fiber availability in South Africa has helped address these issues.

He also said Vox customers could prioritize voice traffic over less time-sensitive internet traffic with voice-specific Quality of Service (QoS) configurations available on carrier-grade routers.

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

“This QoS ensures that participants in person-to-person and group calls enjoy professional voice and video call quality, regardless of what other traffic traverses the home or business network.”

He explained that while last-mile connectivity is critical, a stable core voice network is also required to provide reliable voice services.

“Core networks that are designed with a conservative capacity planning approach and are redundant from both a routing and power perspective typically provide a high-quality backbone on which to deliver reliable voice service,” he said.

“With QoS technologies implemented within the voice network, our customer traffic is prioritized over all of our local, national and international networks.”

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