Provider: Slow broadband speeds catch out VoIP users

Deceptively slow broadband connections are a hidden problem for users of VoIP services, says one VoIP service provider.

Although broadband customers may sign up for a services starting from 256/128Kbps speeds, those speeds can go as low as 8Kbps without the user knowing. This causes a drop in voice quality, or ends calls altogether, said engin CEO Ilkka Tales.

"A speed of 128Kbps upstream is more than sufficient for voice. We know for a fact that customers are getting less than 8Kbps," said Tales at a recent conference on VoIP.

"As a broadband industry we need to be open and honest to customers," he said.

Michael Malone, the CEO of leading broadband provider iiNet, disagreed with Tales' claim.

"If you're exchanging data with someone on a dial-up connection in Ethiopia, then of course this is possible. But if you're talking about the link between your ISP and you, then that's a baseless assertion," he said.

"There is no situation in which a properly working ADSL service will deliver slower speeds than a dial-up service installed at the same location."

Malone's claim is supported by a report released last week by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

As part of the report, a number of users were surveyed to determine their connection speeds. The study found that subscribers to digital subscriber line (DSL) services achieved download data rates of around 83 per cent of advertised rates, while those on dial-up Internet achieved 74 per cent.

"So a 512Kbs link would deliver 400Kbs or higher from sites capable of supporting those speeds," Malone said.

Even wireless broadband services, which displayed highly variable download data rates due to the number of external factors affecting wireless performance with an average of 62 per cent of the advertised download rate, would not drop anywhere near the levels of 8Kbps

engin VoIP user Rob Cammell said he did not have a problem with his ADSL speed (128Kbs upstream). Cammell was more concerned about his PC's performance when too many windows are running.

"When the phone rings and somebody is on the phone, you need to stop everything on the Internet. Otherwise the quality of the voice call deteriorates rapidly," he said.

That inconvenience aside, Cammell, who has been using the engin service for more than two years, was satisfied with voice quality of his calls.

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Howard Dahdah

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