How Much Data Would VoIP Consume? Here Are the Factors You Should Consider and How You Can Keep Consumption Down

in Technology

If you’re a business owner, you know how important it is to keep costs down. That’s why many are switching to the more cost-effective and scalable Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP from providers like Telnum.net.

But the difference between your antiquated telephone lines and VoIP is the need for internet in order to make communication possible. So you won’t have to do any maintaining and updating for hardware, but you need to allocate money for internet data.

If the office has an existing internet subscription, this shouldn’t matter much. Most (if not all) existing subscriptions are enough for you to smoothly run VoIP messaging.

But what about if you’re outside? You’ll have to resort to relying on internet data, making bandwidth a concern. So the mobile your employees are, the more that they would rely on internet data.

So for this post, we’ll cover three things:

  • What bandwidth is and why it matters
  • Factors which determine your bandwidth consumption
  • How you can keep consumption down

Bandwidth: What It Is and Why You Should Know It

Put simply, bandwidth is how quickly or slowly the  internet provider transfers data to your computer and back. And this is essential because you have to set aside a certain part for VoIP.

If you don’t, communication quality will suffer. Or worse, you won’t be able to initiate calls at all.  So if the internet speed is not satisfactory, expect that the call quality won’t be as good.

There are many ways that the bandwidth for your connection can alter VoIP calls quality. And to see if your network can handle it, you should consider these questions:

  • What’s your internet upload speed? What about download speed?
  • Do you normally run other apps when making VoIP calls? How much bandwidth do they consume?
  • Can the network prioritize VoIP to maintain call quality?

Factors That Affect Your Data Consumption for VoIP

How much exactly you’ll use is unique to your organization because some rely on VoIP more than others. But here are a few things that will affect data consumption:

How big the VoIP network is

If you have lots of employees connected through the VoIP network, expect that the internet data consumed would be higher as well. But if only a few key people in the organization are using it, then data usage won’t be as high.

Quality of calls

HD video quality will consume more. The same goes for voice calls. Maintaining a certain quality for calls comes at a price of higher usage of data.

Type of communication (video vs voice)

Voice calls are much easier on data than video. The rule of thumb is, the mode of communication closest to face-to-face interaction (which is video) is the heaviest on internet data.

The number of calls done concurrently

The more calls done or the more people in one call, the more data is used. This is because each device uses up data, so consumption easily accumulates.

How You Can Keep Consumption Down

If you’re working with a limited allocation of data, it’s best to do as much as you can to keep consumption within limits. And here are three ways that you can do it.

Go for voice calls instead of video calls

Even the highest quality for voice calls consume much less than video calls. While the top quality voice call will spend an estimate of 1.3 MB per minute, an average quality video call usually will cost 4.5 MB per minute.

So unless seeing who you’re talking to is absolutely necessary (like when talking to a client or during the final stages of a potential employee interview), stick with voice. It communicates the message just the same, and the video is usually just for the comfort of the speakers.

Control the voice/video quality

You’ll hardly need the highest quality level for voice and video calls. For as long as the connection isn’t spotty or scratchy, it’s good enough most of the time.

It’s also important to note that there’s a huge difference on how much data is used depending on the quality. You’d think this doesn’t matter because the calls rarely last long. But these can add up to a few Gigabytes per month.

Think if what you’re trying to communicate can be accomplished via email or instant messaging

Mail app icon with two notifications

With a new system in place, it can be tempting to use it all the time. But for one-directional communications such as instructions or notices, it may be best to do them via non-voice methods.

This also allows the message receiver to review the message without calling again.

There’s no right answer for the data consumed by VoIP because it depends on many factors. But even with the foreseen additional costs on internet data, VoIP is still the smarter solution is you want to save costs.


Image Credits: Romain V, Brett Jordan

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