Bigleaf Networks and SkySwitch Partner for VoIP Quality and Network Visibility

SkySwitch joins Bigleaf Cloud Assurance Program for deeper integration with Bigleaf real-time SD-WAN adaptation and monitoring

 PORTLAND, Ore. & LAKELAND, Fla. (October 11, 2016) Bigleaf Networks, the Cloud-first SD-WAN service that optimizes Internet and Cloud performance by dynamically choosing the best connection and adapting QoS in real-time, today announced a partnership adding SkySwitch, a white-label hosted PBX and UCCaaS provider, to Bigleaf’s Cloud Assurance Program.

 Bigleaf’s Cloud Assurance Program helps ensure that partner cloud applications achieve peak performance and mutual customers have peace of mind.  Joint customers of Bigleaf and SkySwitch will enjoy enhanced voice, data, and cloud services through Bigleaf’s network performance analysis and optimization.

 The Cloud Assurance Program centers around Bigleaf’s patent-pending Intelligent Load-Balancing and Dynamic Quality-of-Service (QoS) functionality. Bigleaf provides real-time failover and load-balancing with seamless mid-session re-routing based on ISP circuit quality. Bigleaf’s unique Dynamic QoS technology prioritizes VoIP and other business-critical applications across the public Internet. These innovations provide complete control of both download and upload traffic, and work across ISP circuits with variable bandwidth like cable.

 The Bigleaf Cloud Assurance Program incorporates:

  • Interoperability testing of QoS prioritization, load-balancing and seamless failover of the Assurance Partner’s application traffic.
  • Network peering, where appropriate, to ensure end-to-end QoS protection.
  • Enhanced support for the Assurance Partner’s customers through:
    • Bigleaf Web App visibility and reporting of latency, packet loss and jitter.
    • Joint support training and collaboration on troubleshooting efforts.

 “We’re excited to add SkySwitch to our Cloud Assurance portfolio,” said Bigleaf Founder and CEO Joel Mulkey. “Combining Bigleaf with their VoIP and UC platform, their resellers can offer a joint package to end customers that provides an outstanding experience.”

 “When delivering voice as an over-the-top service, service providers need a sound strategy for ensuring QoS.  Bigleaf’s QoS prioritization and load balancing solution solves this problem.” said SkySwitch President Eric Hernaez. “SkySwitch is working hard to build an ecosystem that white label resellers can leverage to optimize their success in the fast growing market for hosted PBX and UCaaS.  We are very pleased to be working with Bigleaf in this regard.”

 About Bigleaf Networks

Bigleaf Networks is the intelligent networking service that optimizes Internet and cloud performance by dynamically choosing the best connection based on real-time usage and diagnostics. Inspired by the natural architecture of leaves, the Bigleaf Cloud-first SD-WAN platform leverages redundant connections for optimal traffic re-routing, failover and load-sharing. The company is dedicated to providing a better Internet experience and ensuring peace of mind with simple implementation, friendly support and powerful technology. Founded in 2012, Bigleaf Networks is investor-backed, with service across North America. To learn more, visit www.bigleaf.net or talk to Bigleaf at 1-888-244-3133.

 About SkySwitch

SkySwitch delivers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Back office support to our Resellers.  This enables our Resellers –  communication, telecom, IT service providers – to offer a branded, cloud-based, unified communications and collaboration service (UCCaaS) to their subscribers without the requirement to invest in or manage the platform from which the service is offered.  The SkySwitch platform includes not only the infrastructure to deliver feature rich voice, video, text and fax communications, but also, all operational and business support systems necessary for a reseller to experience rapid growth and profitability.

How do you make sure VoIP bandwidth is sufficient?

voip qosIn the Hosted PBX realm, managing VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) ultimately comes down to allocating sufficient bandwidth to VoIP packets at the customer’s router.

Here is an informative article that covers the various methods that organizations can use to ensure  that VoIP quality of service meets the customer’s’ needs.  It states that:

The most common approach to support VoIP bandwidth is to apply a mix of virtual local area networks, quality of service (QoS) and traffic prioritization across the network to ensure voice traffic is always segregated or given the highest priority between endpoints and call-control platforms.

The article also includes a link to another article –  DiffServ QoS model works wonders for VoIP networks – which explains that the three main models used for implementing QoS within a network infrastructure: Best-Effort, Integrated Services (IntServ) and Differentiated Services (DiffServ).

At SkySwitch, we recommend SimpleWan quality of service routers to perform the important function of traffic prioritization.  You can learn more about the factors that affect VoIP QoS by  downloading our informative whitepaper – Hosted PBX without the Headaches:  Quality of Service –  on this topic.

How SkySwitch Improves VoIP Quality for SIP Mobility

While I was working for NetSapiens, I wrote a blog called Maximizing VoIP Quality Over Wireless Links with Codec Selection that explained how a service provider might improve VoIP QoS by using the iLBC codec.

Now, with the availability of the SkySwitch Mobile VoIP solution, I am happy to say that we are putting theory into practice.  One way we do this, is by using our Always Available geo-diverse architecture to anchor media at the switch that is geographically closest to the end user.

But the most important strategy we employ to maximize QoS for users of the PBX Fone app is to leverage iLBC, the best available codec for callers over WiFi, 3G and 4G wireless networks.

The term codec  refers to the sampling rate and compression scheme used to digitize an audio stream and, as might be expected, codecs with higher fidelity require more bandwidth. The table below (borrowed from Broadcom) shows the perceived speech quality and bit rates of ten different codecs across different languages.  In a VoIP call, the goal is to use the codec which results in the best possible user experience.  But because  packet loss and delay reduce voice quality, a trade-off must always be made  between codec fidelity and bandwidth consumption.

Most service providers consider G.711 and G.729 as the “standards”  because virtually all of their existing vendors (SIP carriers and trunk providers) and equipment providers (SIP CPE and gateways) support these codecs – and therefore compatibility issues are less likely to arise.  As reflected in the bandwidth calculation chart below (borrowed from Cisco),  including overhead, G.711 requires nearly three times more bandwidth than G.729 (87.2 Kbps vs. 31.2 Kbps).  It’s obvious then, that G.729 is a better choice than G.711 when bandwidth is an issue.

 

But, bandwidth consumption is not the whole story.  There is another factor to consider when choosing a codec as a service provider:  loss concealment.   (Software developers often argue about the merits of a codec based on license cost, computational requirements, whether it is open source or encumbered by patents, and other such things.  These issues, though interesting, are immaterial to the typical service provider and will be ignored in this discussion.)

In many wireless last mile situations (including WiFi and cellular data 3G/4G), bandwidth is subject to packet loss and/or unpredictable drop-outs due to ambient conditions.  In these cases, after all the factors are taken into consideration the iLBC codec is the better choice because:

  • among the narrowband codecs, it has similar payload size and fidelity to G.729
  • it is supported by many SIP CPE/handset vendors (e.g. Linksys, Polycom, Apple iOS, Android, and many others); and
  • it performs well in lossy conditions (referred to as robustness).

While there are other codecs with smaller payload size, or greater robustness, they are generally not supported by commonly available SIP Phones, and are therefore impractical choices.

The diagram below, taken from COMPARISONS OF FEC AND CODEC ROBUSTNESS ON VOIP QUALITY AND BANDWIDTH EFFICIENCY,  illustrates that the call quality (referred to as MOS) of G.729 at 8% packet loss is equivalent to the call quality of iLBC  at 15% packet loss – a nearly 100% improvement – in a typical WISP deployment scenario (by “typical”  I mean a network segment where UDP packet loss is anticipated, but packet delay is not an overt problem).  And, in real world usage, I have found that it is possible to carry on a reasonable conversation with packet loss approaching 30%, when using iLBC.

SkySwitch utilizes iLBC transcoders to allow calls from the SkySwitch mobilty app to accommodate the often lossy conditions of WiFi, 3G and 4G networks.  Give it a try for yourself and see the difference that strategic codec selection makes.