The answer is yes. One of the most common problems with VoIP telephony is echo. Typically, echo occurs when the sound of the speaker’s voice returns through their handset and into their ear. While it’s not crippling, echo can slow users’ conversations and even disrupt synchronization between voice and other data. That being said, echo is generally despised by most. As such, many companies now offer echo cancellation solutions to counteract the problem—i.e. users can choose a provider with this built in or implement echo cancellation hardware and/or echo cancellation software. Yet, despite a variety of solutions and their functionalities, not all cancellation options are as efficient as they could be.
Echo cancellation technology works to remove echo and improve the overall quality of the call. In doing so, the cancellation tech must identify the original signal that is echoing, and then move to remove it from the received signal. This removal works according to an echo cancellation algorithm—which replicated the received signal and checking for parts of that signal that reappear. Now, before users deploy echo cancellation solutions, one should first move to identify the cause. While there are a number of causes behind echo, all of which are generally easy fixes, one factor rarely addressed is bandwidth.
Bandwidth generally refers to the amount of time it takes to transfer data from one point to another. That being said, the more bandwidth you have, the more data you are able to send over your Internet connection; however, running applications and services that require large amounts of bandwidth while making VoIP calls can result in substantial cuts in quality. Additionally, improper utilization of bandwidth could subsequently be the driving factors that bring about the causes of echo.
Users notice echo depending on how long the delay is; therefore, if there isn’t enough bandwidth to maintain the best quality and highest speed, delays will be longer—which again makes the echo more noticeable. Typically, standard lines (PSTN) function with 10 milliseconds of delay. Inversely, VoIP can have up to 400 milliseconds. This makes the echo effect much more substantial with VoIP telephony.
VoIP functions by sending digital voice (as packets) over an IP data network. These packets need to be transferred, compressed, uncompressed, and encrypted; therefore, the shorter the packet is, the less delay will occur. While this seems simple enough, shorter packets require more bandwidth, as they have a higher overhead. Inversely, the larger the voice field and the longer the packets, the less the overhead percentage; therefore, less bandwidth is needed. Simply put, shorter packets are less susceptible to delay, but require more bandwidth. Additionally, larger packets are more susceptible to delay, but require less bandwidth. While there are compression methods available to reduce the amount of needed bandwidth, users would do well to always consider their bandwidth needs.
As stated above, there are various echo cancellation technologies available to users; however, not are all are effective. With that in mind, users should be aware of their bandwidth capabilities and their packet transmissions. Though this sounds complicated, there are many speed tests available to determine the overall efficiency of your Internet connection. If users are not practicing optimized usage of their bandwidth, delay and echo will become all the more substantial. Echo cancellation can move to remedy this; however, it may not be as effective if users are not utilizing their bandwidth and Internet connection properly.