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For a firm with about 8-10 employees what connection should be good enough to connect with Asterisk server.

Right now we are all connected via wireless router, but if call quality would be better we would switch to ethernet cables and gigabit LAN cards.

Asterisk server will contain also analog card accepting 4-5 analog lines to connect to outside world.

Right now transfer rate between computer in network is about 3-4MB/s.

Should we switch to cables or remain on wireless?

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  • With wireless you share bandwidth, if 3-4MB/s was tested in isolation you may not get that in reality
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:40

2 Answers 2

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If you can hard-wire, you should. Doing so is the only way to get guaranteed bandwidth and latency, both are which impossible to guaranty in the "unlicensed" wifi bands.

This is not VoIP specific, but holds true for all aspects of networking.

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  • I tell customers all the time: "WiFi is convenient, Wired is reliable. Which do you want?"
    – Chris S
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:59
  • @ChrisS Yup, exactly. Every "wifi only" buildout I've ever been involved with has always ended up hard-wiring in the future, at more expense than if it had been just done initially.
    – EEAA
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 15:00
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    Remember it's not about capacity as much as it is sustained quality of the connection. Bursty protocols like HTTP work fine, but realtime protocols (like RTP) don't tolerate lost/delayed packets due to wifi interference - and are dropped (causing choppy call audio). Don't get distracted by faster WiFi standards or MIMO, that's not relevant (at 4-5 lines).
    – TSG
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 18:47
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My personal experience with building VoIP solutions for retail environments is that if WiFi is perfectly fine for physically small areas.

Your first step is to do a WiFi survey; are there any areas where you don't get "five bars" of WiFi signal strength? If so, those will be "problem spots" for call quality.

Second step is ask yourself "what codec am I standardizing on?". Review the calculator here at AsteriskGuru to get an idea. 5 calls in full G.722-HD are going to use ~796Kbps ... that's 1/4 of the transfer rate you post between just two network points.

The Big Gotcha, almost invariably ignored, is the phones themselves. Some VoIP WiFi phones are just bad -- usually poor ergonomics and no support for HD audio, with low-quality WiFi electronics. Be sure you get good phones, and there should be no reason that a small-footprint VoIP WiFi environment won't work more than well enough for an SMB.

A larger space -- such as a warehouse or shop floor -- then the WiFi environment trumps everything. You may have to invest in repeaters or signal strength boosters as part of your VoIP deployment plan. Be sure you talk to the folks who will have the phones and be sure that your WiFi Survey does things like stands behind stationary machinery or shelving stacks to ensure you don't have dead zones. This is particularly important for 911 considerations.

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