Long-time fans of the VoIP & Gadgets blog, may recalled my 2005 post titled, Mysterious QoS Device
, where I discovered with some help from a tipster that Linksys and D-Link were using Ubicom's StreamEngine Net Accelerator to perform Qos techniques such as automatic traffic classification, rate matching, priority queueing (with 255 priority levels), dynamic fragmentation of packets to reduce delay for high-priority traffic and adaptive fragmentation where fragmentation is determined by the uplink speed. The StreamEngine helps to ensure excellent voice quality, lag-free online gaming, and jitter-free videoconferencing.
One of the biggest problems with home broadband VoIP (Vonage
, etc.) is that the upstream bandwidth is limited - often 256Kbps or less. At Vonage's highest-quality codec setting, you use about 90Kbps. Now if you start FTPing or downloading a large file, or worse - use P2P software such as Bittorrent or eMule, and you can easily chew up your available upstream bandwidth. This results in "choppy" voice quality.
In fact, when I used to have Vonage
, my fiancee (future wife) would be on the phone and just as I started using a P2P client to download some "legal" files, the voice quality would degrade and she would yell downstairs, "Are you downloading something on the Internet?". Like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, I would quickly close the P2P client and sheeplishly reply, "Nope, not me! Vonage must be having issues again."
My WiFi Access Point/router I was using at the time didn't have any QoS capabilities, so I was at the mercy of whatever data I was uploading or downloading, which affected the voice over IP quality drastically. I eventually upgraded to a QoS-capable router and the problems went away (for the most part). When I did have QoS issues, it had more to do with the public Internet itself being congested or Vonage's network.
In any event, I recently came across a little known product from D-Link called the DI-102 Broadband Internet/VoIP Accelerator, which prioritizes VoIP packets. The DI-102 Broadband Internet/VoIP Accelerator uses the same StreamEngine Net Accelerator I previously mentioned to detect and prioritize bandwidth-sensitive packets. This results in faster processing of real-time based packets, less latency, and a better user experience.
Installing the DI-102 is a breeze and it'll work with your existing router. Simply connect your cable or DSL modem to the WAN port and then your existing router's WAN port to the LAN port. The DI-102 dynamically configures itself by automatically detecting your Internet upload speed and is ready for use once it's plugged into your existing network infrastructure. It truly is a pure plug and play QoS solution, which is great for home users with little or no networking experience. D-Link claims that With the Internet/VoIP Accelerator you can experience choppy-free VoIP calls, jitter-free video conferencing, and lag-free online gaming. I personally would prefer QoS integrated into my router rather than having a separate device, but if you already spent money on your existing home networking infrastructure, what's nice about this product is that you can keep your existing network setup. You can pick up a D-Link DI-102 on Amazon pretty cheaply.
Also check out D-link's entire VoIP product line on Amazon.
Some cool stuff!