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How much data do I need for an efficient VoIP system?

It’s hard to overlook the many merits of implementing a VoIP phone system in a workplace. VoIP unlocks many cost savings in comparison to a traditional, landline-based system and can be easily scaled up as the business grows. Still, it can be hard to pin down how much data you will need for it.

Though a VoIP system can deliver financial savings potentially totalling as much as 90%, placing VoIP calls still depletes data which incurs a cost. So, how much data will an efficient VoIP system burn?

Cracking the codec

When looking closely at the breadth of VoIP solutions available, you could understandably feel aghast about how exactly you are supposed to calculate your firm’s projected data usage.

Different VoIP systems can use different codecs. A codec plays a crucial role in VoIP data usage, as it is the compression engine that, during a call, converts your voice from analogue to digital format. In the process, it will remove silent movements to minimise data usage.

The differences in codecs between systems mean that those systems can consume data at varying rates. For example, the G.711 codec takes 87Kbps – kilobits per second – and the G.726 codec consumes 55Kbps, according to figures listed by Lifewire.

However, most good VoIP services actually use the G.729 codec, the data consumption rate of which is 32Kbps. This ranks it among the best performing voice codecs, so let’s use it as our basis for calculations of how much data a G.729-based system might use in a business context.

Crunching the figures

Given G.729’s data consumption rate, a minute-long call made with a system using this codec would require 1,920 kilobits of outgoing data. Since 8 bits make up a single byte, we should divide the 1,920 figure by 8 to see how much you would consume in bytes – and that’s 240 kilobytes.

However, each voice conversation of this duration would also use inbound data of the same amount. Therefore, the 240 figure should be doubled to 480 to show how many kilobytes in total this conversation would use. That is near 0.5MB per minute.

In light of this figure, it can be clearly discerned that even a mobile plan allowing for just 1GB of monthly data usage can still let you make and take hundreds or even thousands of calls, Best Reviews points out. Even a “hungrier” codec than G.729 wouldn’t cripple the data at your disposal.

You might still fret about the possibility of video calls significantly eating into your data allowance. However, this worrying would be misplaced – as, with the h.264 codec, video consumes roughly 64KB per second. That adds up to, on average, 3.75MB for each minute of usage.

Therefore, you would have to make 4 hours and 45 minutes’ worth of video calls to use up a 1GB data allowance. This impressive leeway could imbue you with the confidence to order a VoIP solution for businesses and have the system up and running just a few days later.


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