Single Webphone User or Small subset of users having Call Quality Issues
  • 10 Aug 2023
  • 7 Minutes to read
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Single Webphone User or Small subset of users having Call Quality Issues

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Article summary

Single Webphone User / Small subset of users having Call Quality Issues

Note: this document is primarily focused on webphone users, however most of these tests can be directly translated to all VoIP-based setups with minor considerations, such as desk phones typically being hardwired, and therefore immune to wifi drop out etc. Some of the technical requirements inside the Client Advisories are required for other SIP devices, e.g. SIP ALG disabled. OTT/ Associated Numbers setups vary drastically, and some do not rely upon internet access to facilitate your calls, while others might. In most instances we have no direct control or interaction with the OTT system, and the OTT system in question is managed by a 3rd party we are not in contact with. If investigation finds that the issues are only isolated to that OTT system, you will need to work with them to troubleshoot it. That being said, the echo test should still work through our system, these tests can still verify internet connectivity if it's relevant, etc.

A somewhat commonly reported issue is one user/ a small subset of users having call quality issues. If the scope of these issues is limited to:

  • 1 (or a handful of) user(s)
  • Users limited to the same network/ switch

Then it's important for you to rule out local issues in the process of investigating as early as possible, to expedite resolution and get them back to working at full capacity, particularly in working-from-home scenarios. Under the above circumstances the cause is usually “local” in nature and when our support teams investigations have confirmed this, we are rarely able to say anything more than “the issue seems to stem from your agents network” and then we will proceed in recommending the below steps.

Before we get started, be mindful of our Client Advisories which covers many of the technical requirements to run Natterbox effectively. It's far more technical than this guide but covers a few relevant topics such as speed requirement per active phone call on a network, etc.

We do not recommend using a laptop's built-in mic and speakers for phone calls. They are not well designed for it, picking up too much ambient noise. For simplicity's sake, the best headset are wired headphones designed primarily for phone calls, e.g. the Jabra 40 evolve headset. Wireless can be made to work but as it adds complication, its best only used by more technically capable agents.

Echo Test - 1681

We have a built-in echo test that can be used by users to see if the audio you send to us is being received correctly. From any Natterbox phone dial 1681. This should initiate a call which plays a brief message and then starts playing back the audio we are receiving from the agent with a 5 second delay. Presuming you hear the message from the expected headphones, it suggests you have the correct speaker settings.
Once you start speaking this can highlight:

  • Is Natterbox receiving any audio at all? If not:
    • Is the mic muted?
    • Has the PC attached the webphone to a mic that's not working?
    • Is it unplugged?
    • For wireless headsets - is it charged?

It's also possible that your firewall is blocking the audio; but this is uncommon in working-from-home scenarios except in cases where the audio is passing through an office VPN, in which case many users would presumably be affected.

  • Does the audio sound distant?
    • Has it selected your PC’s array mic rather than the recommended purpose built headsets? If you are unsure, try tapping the laptop, waiting to hear it back, then tapping your mic and waiting to hear it back. Which was loud? That's your mic for this call.

It may just be worth going into your computer's sound settings and disabling all mics except your headset; on windows that would be “manage sound devices” > input devices > anything thats not your headset - Disable. Then repeat the echo test, perhaps after closing and re-opening the webphone.

  • Does the audio sound broken up and crackly?
    • This could indicate a broken cable/ mic. Wiggle your cables gently while speaking, move the mic around, and listen for cutting out audio in the echo tests playback.
    • If the hardware isn’t broken, it could indicate a network or software (PC) issue.

If the above either leads you to believe that the issue is software or network, or if you find that everything sounds clear and problem free, then you should move onto the next steps.

Network Stability

Due to the nature of VoIP calls, stability is far more important than speed. Stability means that packets are arriving at your phone in a timely manner without delay or drops. Services such as video streaming have a buffer built in so that if some packets are delayed, they will not stop the stream. VoIP is real-time and therefore cannot have a buffer built into it. The following tests can be run to check your network stability.

The first test is a connectivity ping test, which will show whether there is a consistent network connection to our network from that device. If the user is using a Windows machine, they will need to open Command Prompt (the easiest way is to open the start menu and type 'cmd'). It will load a new window and in that, they need to type the following:

ping -n 3600

If they are on a Mac or a Chromebook, then they will need to open a terminal window and type the following:

ping -c 3600

This will ping a web server 3600 times, as they are roughly one second apart, this should last around one hour. You can do this test in the background while you work, and repeat the test perhaps a few times in the day.

Upon completion of the test it should give you a summary at the bottom, with a total and percent lost packets. If you lose over 1% that is indicative of significant network connectivity issues across that time period which would likely translate into poor call quality.

Note: Passing this test doesn’t guarantee that your network is good, it only confirms it's not very bad at the time the test was run. Interference can come and go across the day and might slip between those 1 second intervals.

The second test is more of a test for the phones and how the network is for the device at that moment. Have the user open a web browser and go to, click on the button that says go and wait for the results. Typically this takes 30-45 seconds. See that you are above the requirements stipulated in the Connectivity Speed Requirements section in our client advisories.

Network identified as cause

If either of these tests indicate network connectivity issues then the network is causing the issue. Please be aware that Natterbox cannot take any responsibility for your networks, they should be managed by your own internal IT team.

That being said, we have plenty of advice to give as with the shift to more agents working from home, it may well be that the cause of your issues is somewhat easily fixed.
Many users using the webphone are on wifi, and a lot of users now work from home. It might just be that the location you're in is suffering from interference or a weaker connection. You can find lists of general wifi-interference sources online, here's a short list:

  1. Your Neighbour's Network
  2. Separate Wireless Networks in Your Own Home
  3. Bluetooth
  4. Baby Monitors, Walkie-Talkies, wireless CCTV systems, wireless alarm systems and other wireless solutions
  5. Microwave Oven
  6. Concrete and Masonry Walls
  7. Thick Walls
  8. Metal floor or Floor Heating
  9. Water, radiators, refrigerators and fish tanks
  10. A Television screen

Typically, we see a lot of people opt to put their routers in hidden places, behind TVs, in cupboards, somewhere out of sight. This can often be the cause of interference.

Things you can try:

  • Restart your WiFi router
  • Use a hardwired connection to the internet (perhaps temporarily to confirm if the issue is WiFi related).
  • Move close to the nearest WiFi access point
  • Confirm that no-one else is overloading that network at that time, for example streaming videos in higher definition, uploading large files, downloading intensively (eg. video game updates) etc.
  • Is your router in a poor location? Can it be moved out into the open/ closer to you? Might you need some sort of WiFi extension? Speak with your internal IT teams regarding this.
  • Get a separate internet line just for you. It doesn’t have to be a fast line, a 10 Mbps (eg. ADSL) basic broadband should allow you to comfortably and reliably work from home without interference.

If you are on a hardwired connection, try changing cables and ports.

Note: Ethernet cables don’t like being sharply bent, the plastic clip on the connector also breaks down easily which can cause the cable to be accidentally and easily disconnected

The above is likely to help you fix the majority of single user/ small subset of user issues, but it doesn’t cover every possibility. If you find that you still are unable to fix the users call quality issues with the above recommendations, raise a support ticket and our team will do what we can to help.

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