What is Router Quality of Service (QoS) and Why Should You Care?

Router Quality of Service (Qos)Your internet connection is a bit like a highway that is traveled by many different types of vehicles. You’ve got your Sunday drivers, long-haul truckers, average commuters and emergency services vehicles all sharing the same lanes. Everyone may be going in the same direction, but the urgency for getting to the destination varies greatly. You never want an ambulance to be stuck in a traffic jam.

Data traveling over your internet connection works the same way. All types of traffic, voice, video, file transfer, applications and plain old browsing all share the same bandwidth. Certain types of data traffic, large file downloads, for example, can cause traffic to back up. When this happens, voice calls over SIP trunking can experience jitter and lag, in other words poor audio quality. Quality of Service, or QoS, is a router feature designed to help. It’s a bit like an HOV lane for your voice traffic.

QoS, is also known as traffic shaping. It can assign a priority to each device and service operating on your network. It then controls the amount of bandwidth each is allowed to consume depending on what it is trying to do and how fault-tolerant it is. If packet loss occurs during a file transfer, for example, they’ll be resent until all are accounted received. This isn’t a problem because the file will be received as one whole package. With voice and video, however, the lost bits can’t be sent later because any loss will result in a noticeable lag or glitch that will immediately harm the user experience. When QoS is properly configured, it recognizes the different types of traffic, understands the relative importance of uninterrupted packet flow and prioritizes accordingly.

Some routers include the option of automated QoS handling. They automatically choose which traffic gets priority, putting video and voice ahead of file downloads, for instance. The intelligence behind each vendor’s QoS functionality varies according to the quality of the algorithm in use and the processor power available to run it.

Quality of Service is particularly important for businesses using SIP trunking for their voice communications. Good audio quality is essential, so it is worth investing in a router that supports QoS. The good news is that most modern routers do, so it is likely that yours has this capability. It may or may not require some configuration, but even if it does, it will be well worth the effort. Consult your router’s manual or control panel for more details and instructions. Of course, we’re happy to help as well.