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How-to troubleshoot your VoIP connection? [Tutorial]

By Alok Saboo on January 6th, 2010

Over the past few days, I have spent fair amount of time assisting readers in troubleshooting their VoIP service setup. Over the period, I realized that most of the steps required are generic and hence I decided to put together this VoIP troubleshooting guide. If you are having problems with your VoIP calls, SIP phone, or mobile VoIP, follow this guide. It should help you address most of the problems. But if it does not help you, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to help you on a case by case basis.

troubleshooting The philosophy behind this guide is very simple – identify the culprit or find out what exactly is causing the problem and then address the problem. There are fundamentally 3 elements that enable you to make VoIP calls (and the problem could be with any of these):

  1. Network – Since the voice is transmitted over the Internet, this could be one of the primary reasons behind several VoIP issues. Although a fast connection usually means better call quality, it does not have to be so. Your ISP may be blocking your VoIP traffic or you may be behind a firewall (making VoIP calls difficult). You should first test your VoIP connection quality and see if it can support a quality voice connection. If you see problems at this stage, contact your ISP for possible resolutions. Some countries require their ISPs to block VoIP traffic, in that case you may consider bypassing your ISP. If this test does not throw any surprises then move forward. To confirm that the network is the culprit, you can try using your VoIP setup on some other network, i.e., you can take your laptop to your friend’s place who is using VoIP and try your settings at his/her place.
  2. SIP hardware or software – The other element that could be causing problems is the SIP device that you are using (although this is very rare). This may be due to incorrect settings or corrupt installation. Since softphones are easy to play with, I will recommend that you trouble shoot your connection using a SIP soft phone such as x-lite. Uninstall, restart, and then reinstall the SIP softphone. You can follow the step by step tutorial to setup SIP account on softphones to ensure that you are following the right steps. Ensure that you are using the right settings for your VoIP provider. You can find the SIP settings of all Betamax providers here. If you are using mobile VoIP (mVoIP), you can follow the tutorials to correctly set up SIP accounts in Fring or Nimbuzz. If this does not help, try using some other SIP client, e.g., if you have been trying with Nimbuzz, try using Fring and so on.
  3. VoIP Service Provider (VSP) – Finally the problem may be with your VoIP provider. Your VSP may not be providing a good call quality (may be using a low band codec). See if changing the codec helps. You can create a free SIP account with Voxalot and try their echo test to make sure that your other settings are correct. If the echo test provides satisfactory results, then there may be problems with your VoIP provider. Try switching to a good quality provider.

I hope this should get you a feel of what needs to be done if you are not happy with your VoIP call quality and want to dig deeper in to the issue. As always, feel free to drop a line if you have any specific question or suggestion – remember it is a collective learning process.

  • zxt

    Very good tips. This will provide helpful someday as I am a heavy VoIP user. I use softphone and ATA for my Onesuite VoIP. Thanks for the tips and I will surely follow this trouble shooting guide when I experience a connection problem in the future.

  • Alok Saboo

    Glad that you found these helpful!!! Let me know if you have any further clarifications.

  • Swathi

    hi am new to this voipswitch i want to increase my trouble shooting skill so plz can u suggest me some good site or book in which i get knowledge of all the troubleshooting issues sip thank u

  • Alok Saboo
  • swathi

    i need know practically how troubleshoot issues in voip switch thank u

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  • dipak patel

    in the qatar on qtel ,i was using the nimbuzz and fring from last one month but now i am facing problem for both software so what should be the possible reason…?

  • Alok Saboo

    It could be a variety of reasons and it would be hard to point out the exact reason. If you have followed this tutorial, you would have got some sense of the problem. You may also want to read our new tutorial on how to bypass ISP restriction on VoIP using proxy server.

  • JonasKane

    Thanks for the very comprehensive Voip tutorial. I want to open a voip account for my company an this will surely help me a lot. Thanks and looking forward to hearing more quality information from you.

  • Alok Saboo

    I am glad you found this useful!!

  • Heather

    I am having a problem hearing inbound calls on my sip trunks. I can access the trunk, dial out and have no problems. When my SIP provider calls in on my direct dial number, they can hear me but I am unable to hear them. Any suggestions, we were in front of the router connected directly to the cable modem connection using a NEC IP Phone.

  • ivan

    I have a cisco wrp400 router and ATA combination that is supposed to support to 2 voice lines – and the people at cisco said it was compatible with Skypein. while that may be true if you know the secret codes, i now suspect they exaggerated

    i am using verizon dsl and they are no help – i am in no-mans-land among the 3 services/vendors. can you recommend an entry point into the system to figure out how to make it work?

  • Alok Saboo

    I am using the same ATA since almost 6 months and as far as I know it does not support SkypeIN directly. By that I mean that you will not be able to use the SkypeIN number to take calls directly on the ATA.

    I am not entirely sure as to why do you want to use SkypeIN if you have an ATA. You could use any DID provider which supports SIP and configure it on your wrp400.

    I would request you to specify your requirement clearly so that I can try to help you. What do you mean when you say “make it work”? Is it locked? Are you able to enter the voice configuration screen?

  • Alok Saboo

    Where are you located? Also, have you made sure that your ISP is not blocking your VoIP traffic. You may want to try using proxy server to improve your VoIP experience.

  • Alok Saboo

    Where are you located? Also, have you made sure that your ISP is not blocking your VoIP traffic. You may want to try using proxy server to improve your VoIP experience.

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  • VoIP software

    The connection is OK, but the call quality is not so good. So what can I do to improve it?

  • Alok Saboo

    This can be a problem in your Internet connection. You may want to look at how to trouble shoot your Internet connection to improve your VOIP quality. Hope it helps…

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  • Deepa Narra

    iam able to login but when i called i am getting your client is not able to make Voip call

    • Alok Saboo

      Could you please provide some more details…
      1. Which client are you using?
      2. Which VoIP provider are you using?
      3. Did you try any other SIP client?

      Please provide as much information as possible, so as to enable us to help you out….

  • Alok Saboo

    This is most likely due to some traffic shaping activity by your ISP. Where are you located?

  • Alok Saboo

    Most providers keep updating their tariffs based on market conditions.

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