VoicePulse Goes Low Bandwidth

The New Jersey-based Voice over IP provider has unveiled a new bandwidth saver feature
that allows users with limited upstream bandwidth to make toll-quality phone
calls without crippling their internet connection.

Voice over IP provider VoicePulse has unveiled a new bandwidth saver feature that allows users with limited upstream bandwidth to make toll-quality phone calls without crippling their internet connection or causing voice dropouts or dropped calls.

The new feature, available only to VoicePulse customers using the Sipura SPA-2000 telephone adaptor, allows users to choose from among three different levels of voice compression (CODEC) from their personal account page.

While VoicePulse receives high marks from many VoIP users for its feature-rich offerings and quality of service, the company had come under some criticicism for its sole reliance on the bandwidth-hogging G.711u CODEC, which requires a speedy broadband connection for optimal use.

By default, VoicePulse's bandwidth saver feature is inactive and the SPA-2000 defaults to the G.711u codec. From a new "Bandwidth Saver" menu on the account page, a user can select one of three new settings:

  • High: This setting uses the G.711u codec and utilizes 64kbps of bandwidth – same as the previous default setting;
  • Medium: This setting uses the G.726-32 codec and utilizes 32 kbps of bandwidth;
  • Low: This setting uses the G.726.16 codec and utilizes 16 kbps of bandwidth

VoicePulse officials say that the lowest setting, utilizing G.726.16, will allow telephone calls to be made over dial-up connections, but that the company will not be providing technical support on the use of dial-up methods, such as Microsoft ICS.

There are no plans to offer the bandwidth saver feature to customers using the Cisco ATA-186 telephone adaptor, which VoicePulse distributed to its users before switching the newer Sipura model late last year. Customers using the older Cisco units will be allowed to upgrade to the Sipura unit for a fee, said a company official.

Changes to the bandwidth setting on an account may take up to 15 minutes to take effect because the process of activating the change for this feature involves pushing the setting out to the device which only happens on a periodic basis. Most other VoicePulse features are handled on the switch side, so they happen instantly.

To determine whther the bandwidth change has taken hold, the user can browse to the Sipura's IP address (learned by dialing ****110# from a phone attached to the SPA-2000) while a call is in progress. An "Info" screen appears that informs the user which CODEC is in effect.

Also, the offcial said the company will be adding a way to check what CODEC is in use simply by dialing a shortcut (something like *198) that will just read back the CODEC in use. A user can also dial *199 to do an echo-test in order to hear what the compressed CODECs sound like.

In addition, the company official stated, VoicePulse will be adding the bandwidth saver feature to its "Open Access" and "Connect" services in approximately 2 weeks. Because each of these services can be used with a variety of telephone adaptors, IP telephones and softphones, the change will be particularly useful to those who travel with their VoIP service.

VoicePulse also hopes to implement the G.726-24 codec (which uses 24 Kbps) in the near future.