A Comprehensive Strategy: How to Make the Move to IP Telephony

eWEEK Labs' step-by-step method for bringing your voice system up to speed with Internet standards.

Proper planning goes a long way toward smoothing the voice-over-Internet Protocol path, but your company should count on sizable equipment, network architecture and cultural changes when making the move to a voice-over-IP telephone system.

Step 1: Upgrade the Network

One of the biggest challenges to implementing an effective voice-over-IP telephony system is remediating the data network to accommodate voice traffic.

Although it is true that packets containing voice and those that contain data look exactly the same to networking equipment, voice packets must be given priority treatment. In other words, voice applications must act like traditional phone systems.

First and foremost, this means that a telephone call made using IP standards should sound like a wireline call, not like one from a cell phone. To achieve this level of quality, routers and switches must be configured to prioritize voice traffic and prevent jitter.

This is a significant undertaking because network applications are built to accommodate packets that arrive after short delays or are out of order. The use of virtual local area networks and switches that support the 802.1p specification is essential. The 802.1p spec allows a switch to prioritize traffic and suppress multicast propagation, thus improving voice quality.

Next page: Preventing outages and powering up Ethernet.