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Prepare your Network for VoIP

Your switches and routers may have the necessary VoIP features, but you still must inventory software code versions and check that you have the most recent iterations. Expect to upgrade some software, because not all equipment comes VoIP-ready with bug-free versions of QoS. But don't get too hung up on QoS--think of it as an insurance policy should you exceed the bandwidth.

Many VoIP vendors offer preinstallation assessment services and will recommend changes. This kind of help will save you some work and minimize finger-pointing if problems occur later on.

Reassess your network regularly, too. New applications are added, people and departments move around and the network gets reconfigured, all of which can change traffic patterns. Monitoring your network's capacity and performance helps you avoid problems. In addition, VoIP monitoring tools can assist you in reassessing how well your network supports VoIP (see "VoIP Monitoring Tools,").

Back to Basics

Most VoIP vendors say duplexity mismatches--full duplex on one end of an Ethernet connection and half duplex on the other--are the biggest cause of VoIP performance problems. Check the duplexity settings of your connections, and use your network-management systems to check switch and router settings.

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