Bit errors, which may be perceived as InErrors and OutErrors prove most significant. Some manageable systems will not permit one to drill down further into the error state, albeit, some systems allow this action and consequently enhance the troubleshooting process. When these errors surface, one should initially test the cabling channel connected on that port as well as confirm the installation of the latest revision of software on the system and the updated, current status of the firmware calibration. The tester also needs to ensure interfaces and/or patch cords are relatively new. As each implements a limited number of mating cycles, a specific channel may appear to be malfunction when it is performing correctly (VoIP performance testing fundamentals).
The tester also needs to examine duplex configurations as having full duplex links duplex proves vital to performance. Mismatches and/or channels auto-negotiated to half duplex will further limit VoIP operations. Half duplex links may result from a hard setting in either the switch or at the workstation as well as faulty cabling, including channels exceeding the maximum distance designated for VoIP performance. When the tester corrects errors, he will need to schedule a following network pulse in 30 days. This time element allows for things as month-end processing and other functions that do not occur daily (VoIP performance testing fundamentals).
In the article, "Operation: VoIP: Testing and Monitoring Are Complex. But Key for Solid
Results," Craig Kuhl explains that VoIP testing includes the following four stages/segments
1. Research and Development test equipment
2. Manufacturing test equipment
3. Installation and maintenance test equipment
4. Monitoring test equipment (Kuhl, ¶12).
Kull asserts that the ultimate criteria to ensure the peak VoIP Quality of Service (QoS), reliability and performance proves challenging. As VoIP constitutes a new venture for the cable industry, it mandates fresh skill sets, tools, equipment as well as innovative corporate engineering and perceptions. In response to the Yankee Group's projection that the growing VoIP business would reach 18 million subscribers by 2009, the vendor community designed and administered a number of crucial tests to pass or fail an IP-enabled voice network. Cable VoIP, like broadband VoIP, comprises a legitimate business. This contributes to the expectation that competition between service providers will significantly increase during the next 10 years. Critical tests, albeit, will need to continue to help ensure efficient service. As this growth occurs, service providers and vendors will need to implement even more test and monitoring equipment (tools), particularly in areas like troubleshooting (Kuhl).
As VoIP customers expect to receive excellent service, both cable operators and broadband service providers must be more pro-active in testing and monitoring VoIP performance. VoIP networks have their sensitive side, too. Therein lies the test and monitoring challenge. Randal Burke, senior director for national communications engineering and operations for Comcast Corporation, states that managing VoIP does not depict typical network management. Burke stresses that cable needs to implement a more active view of nodes prior to their impact on customers (Kuhl). Cable and broadband service providers and venders must maintain quality test and monitoring systems. They must track performance issues such as jitter and latency as well as regularly address multiple VoIP gateways.
Kuhl projects that VoIP testing strategies will solidify as VoIP reaches its peak deployment period by 2010. Resolving weaknesses in VoIP requires that the tester first identifies the weaknesses and relating them to baseline elements of packet configurations and root causes. In the realm of cable VoIP, the reportedly most powerful tool for testing VoIP, according to Kuhl, consists of reactive testing. This permits the service provider to extract actual call-in data, enter it into their database and trace the root cause. This permits the tester to view each call and secure a clear picture of the network's performance.
Amidst progress in VoIP monitoring and testing, the quest continues for the ideal testing system and its support equipment. Testing proves complex as locating and employing techs with the skills needed to multi-task within the IP worlds, who speak the VoIP data and telecom languages presents even more challenges. Meeting contemporary testing challenges, nevertheless, and conducting automated and manual tests on VoIP, as noted at this paper's start, can help VoIP service providers avoid expensive and embarrassing problems. It can also enhance their commitment to ensure their network delivers acceptable call quality and non-stop availability. Fulfilling this commitment will help ensure customers remain loyal in the midst of contemporary competition. After all, in providing VoIP business, the customer, as the individual in the testing process, more than any system in both automatic and manual processes, proves to be the most valuable component.
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