Test & Measurement

Survey: VOIP Quality Is Breaking Up

More than a third of VOIP service providers rely on customer complaints to find out about service quality problems, according to the results of a survey conducted by test-and-measurement vendor Empirix Inc. (See Empirix Touts VOIP Survey.)

Of the survey's 148 respondents, which included VOIP specialists as well as traditional carriers with IP telephony products, only 20 percent said they used VOIP monitoring systems to keep track of VOIP call quality, while 36 percent said they most often discovered service quality issues as a result of customer complaints.

And it's not as if these service providers can claim they couldn't get their hands on a VOIP monitoring system. A host of companies, in addition to Empirix, are marketing such systems, including:

(See Who Makes What: VOIP Infrastructure Equipment, VOIP Testing Goes Live, VOIP Testing: The Startup Mentality, and Empirix Upgrades VOIP Tracker.)

"The fact that only one in five of the respondents reports using VOIP application systems to ensure quality is not so surprising, as the VOIP monitoring solution market is still emerging," says Frost & Sullivan 's Communications Test & Measurement program manager, Jessy Cavazos. "Some of these service providers are large bureaucratic organizations, and old mainstream carriers are slow-moving, especially, when they are confused about what they need...

"We expect the number of service providers using VOIP monitoring systems to increase in the future."

And what about the 36 percent of service providers relying on customer complaints as a form of troubleshooting?

"This is not only bad news for service providers but also for the market itself, as it may slow VOIP service growth and acceptance," says Cavazos. "The most concerning finding, I think, is that some service providers consider this method acceptable at any stage of the deployment."

Frost & Sullivan, not be confused with Gilbert & Sullivan, predicts the growth in service provider spend on VOIP monitoring systems will jump to $75 million this year.

Other survey findings were surprising as well. "I was shocked that about 75 percent of the respondents are well into their VOIP deployments but don't have applications monitoring systems," says Dan Teichman, Empirix's senior product marketing manager. "I'm surprised they deploy, and then look at what they need to do about service quality."

One finding highlighted by Empirix's VP of business development, Phil Odence, is that the service providers surveyed believe media quality problems -- those troubles pertaining to audio quality, rather than signaling issues related to the call connection problems -- are the biggest threats to VOIP call quality. Odence says those troubles will get worse as VOIP subscriber numbers grow and bandwidth constraints become an issue.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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