Mar 27, 2020

Analyzing your internet connection

Some lines are more reliable than others
Some lines are more reliable than others

You have a broadband internet connection and still trouble with call quality? Well, then it's time to test your internet connectivity for quality instead of speed.
For call quality it is most important that your voice data runs smoothly and evenly across the internet and arrives as quickly as possible at the other end.

Most online speed tests only check for bandwidth, which you usually have more than enough of, but which does nothing for call quality. Some also test ping latency which tells you how fast your data travels back and forth. This matters but still is not the most important factor that determines call quality. Instead, in order to measure the quality of your connection we have to check for jitter and packet loss.

Due to the lack of high quality online tools, we have developed our own connectivity testing service, which is now available to you. The results will translate into a simple color scale so you will immediately see the call quality you can expect from your internet connection.

Taking the test

Just click this link to start the test now. At first you will be presented with a list of dialer locations and latency checks will start immediately. After a while checking will complete and the list will be sorted by latency.
You can then start testing the connection quality to any of the dialer locations, but best to start from the top.

The connectivity test will present results in 10 second intervals, separated for receiving and sending audio streams. Since network conditions change frequently, so will the result and hence the call quality.
We recommend you leave the test running as the foreground window for about an hour to get a clear picture.

Taken the test. Now, what should I do?

The lower the latency number, the closer the server location. So in most cases it makes sense to use the dialer location that shows the lowest latency. After that first round of checks has ended that location will be at the top of the list.
Back in Dialfire you can then go to settings -> dialer and change the dialer location you're using accordingly. The change itself will complete within 20 minutes.

Your connection quality shows orange and red most of the time, even for all the top 5 servers on the list? Well, then you should first rule out that the problem is within your office.

Make sure you have a wired connection to your router, as WiFi will cause as much trouble as a bad internet provider. If you absolutely cannot avoid working on WiFi then at least change to the 5GHz band with a good WiFi signal. The old 2.4GHz band is too crowded and even catches interference from microwave ovens.
If that is not the problem try to disconnect all other users from your router to make sure your router or your connection isn't overloaded.
Also check if a direct connection with a new patch cable to your router changes things. A defective cable or switch can easily cause the same symptoms which go completely unnoticed with normal office work.
If you can, also try a different internet modem/router. They are not all the same quality. Also reducing connection speed within the router may improve things, as you're trading in some bandwidth for higher stability.

The problem still persists? Well, then your options are limited. Try to talk with a service representative of your internet provider about latency and jitter and you will only earn yourself blank stares. Changing your connection to another ISP is the only real option.
In general cable based internet tends to be more flaky than that based on phone lines. That's because with cable you're sharing a single copper wire with a lot of other subscribers, and a single wiring problem, like a faulty extension cord in a neighbor's house, will cause data loss on your connection as well.
Even 4G LTE based connections can be a good alternative in some areas with some providers. The testing tool is a good way to check that before you subscribe.

Want to know more? Let's take a deeper dive.

So you really want to understand why all this is happening? Why can call quality be low when an internet speed test tells you that you have plenty of capacity left? Buckle up.

On the internet all data including your voice will be chopped into small packets and sent individually. But with voice it's not so much about how many packets you can receive or send at a time but about how quickly they get to the other party and how evenly that will happen. When downloading large videos or surfing the internet that doesn't matter at all. But with voice it makes all the difference.

So depending on how good your internet connection is, it will take more or less time until packets arrive on the other side. That time may vary a lot or even worse, some packets don't make it all. Let's see what this all means for your call quality.


Latency is the time it takes to send a voice packet to the other party and return. It is measured in milliseconds. But why bother? If latency is high the conversation can become really awkward, and I'm sure you have all experienced that before.

The latency will depend on the number of network nodes the packets have to go through and on the physical distance to our servers, as nothing can travel faster than light. That's why Dialfire operates a global network of dialer servers that helps you keep the distance short.


At times the network of your internet provider can get congested if by pure chance a lot of users are sending or receiving data at the same moment. This is like a traffic jam that will cause everyone to go slower for a while. That means that packets won't be received on the other end at an even pace, but some on time and some much later than average. These varying delivery times are called jitter.

This may only last a few seconds. But it means that eventually some of the voice packets will come too late for the party and can no longer be used. And this will be heard as either drop-outs in the audio or distorted sound.

Also if one of the phones involved in the conversation detects a lot of jitter coming in, then it may decide to wait a little longer for data packets arriving late. This is called a jitter buffer. Typically the buffer will be between 20ms and 60ms. Now that sounds like a brilliant idea and should do away with all the jitter once and for all, right?
Yes, it does indeed reduce the number of audio drop-outs you will experience, but on the other hand the size of the jitter buffer on both sides adds fully to the overall latency. And if that goes up too high you will soon feel like ground control on a moon mission. Over and out.

Packet loss

If the network of your internet provider becomes even more severely congested, your provider will simply drop some packets. That's actually one of the main working principles of the internet. But this also leads to either drop-outs or distorted sound just as with excessive jitter.
In a file download those lost packets will simply be re-sent after a short while, but for voice packets that doesn't make sense. Like you probably don't want the newspaper re-delivered to you, that went missing 3 weeks ago, do you?


Internet bandwidth has nothing to do with internet quality. Our online testing tool lets you see how good your connection really is.
Change your dialer setting to the one closest. If connection quality is still low, first check your local network for issues. If nothing else helps change your ISP even if connection bandwidth is lower on the new one.
If all the ISPs in your country have the same problem, apply for a new passport.