Leading VoIP Providers Outperform Regular Phone Carriers in Overall Audio Quality

Discussion in 'VOIP' started by Knowing About, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. VoIP providers still lag behind PSTN in important areas, including
    audio delay; 12 leading VoIP providers studied and ranked in new
    competitive intelligence study
    * Among VoIP providers, VoIP digital phone service ranks first for
    reliability and audio clarity
    * VoIP service providers show overall improvement over the last
    year's results in key performance indicators such as service
    availability and audio clarity
    * Competing VoIP providers in New York and San Francisco markets,
    including digital cable, VoIP phone and PC-based software phone,
    included in study - all benchmarked against PSTN
    * Keynote study is first to include last-mile - including media and
    VoIP adapters - to provide true consumer perspective
    * Voice service quality trend analysis included in study to help VoIP
    providers understand impact of infrastructure changes over past six

    SAN MATEO, Calif., - September 14, 2006 - New insights into the
    performance of leading VoIP providers was released today by Keynote
    Systems (Nasdaq: KEYN), the global leader in Internet and mobile test
    and measurement services. Keynote's third VoIP competitive
    intelligence study revealed that overall VoIP quality has improved
    across the board since Keynote's last study in December 2005 and that
    the leading VoIP providers have actually surpassed PSTN (traditional
    phone service) in overall audio quality, but still lag behind PSTN in
    audio delay.

    Twelve leading VoIP providers are part of the benchmark study that
    includes AT&T (NYSE: T), Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Lingo, Packet8, Skype
    (Nasdaq: EBAY), SunRocket, TimeWarner Cable (NYSE: TWX), TrueVoice,
    Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Vonage (NYSE: VG), Vonics and Windows Live
    Messenger (Nasdaq: MSFT). The complete Keynote VoIP competitive
    intelligence study, including detailed rankings, is available for

    In order to benchmark and rank the quality of consumer VoIP services,
    Keynote measured the relative performance of the leading VoIP providers
    in the New York and San Francisco markets, including digital cable,
    adapter-based VoIP (hard phone) and PC-based software (soft phone)
    services, as well as the performance of leading VoIP providers against
    PSTN service in those cities. Keynote then rated the leading VoIP
    service providers on critical performance factors that influence the
    end-user experience using Keynote Voice Perspective®, which is
    Keynote's VoIP quality test and measurement product.

    Survey Results Reveal Overall Improvement in VoIP Quality, Variations
    Between Cable and DSL

    Based on the results of the survey, which was conducted over a one
    month period from Aug. 1-Aug. 31, 2006, Keynote found that overall
    reliability among the various competing VoIP providers had improved
    across the board and that the leading digital cable providers had in
    fact outperformed PSTN in overall reliability. Overall reliability is a
    computed index score based on performance measurements in three
    performance factors: service availability, average number of dial
    attempts and dropped calls.

    Leading digital cable VoIP providers were also found to deliver better
    audio quality than the competition, with the leading cable providers
    achieving excellent audio responsiveness (a measure of audio delay) and
    audio clarity (measured by Mean Opinion Score, or MOS), two key
    contributors to overall audio quality. However, there was still room
    for improvement among the rest of the pack, with 10 of 12 VoIP service
    providers studied achieving less than a 4.0 MOS, which is considered to
    be "toll quality," that is, comparable to the audio quality of a
    toll call over PSTN.

    Despite the shortcomings of the lower-ranked service providers, the
    overall average MOS of the VoIP providers studied continues to improve
    over time, with the overall average MOS of 3.58 reaching levels
    comparable with GSM mobile phone quality. In Keynote's December 2005
    study the overall average MOS among VoIP providers was 3.55.

    The study also examined the relative performance variations of the
    various VoIP service providers (as well as against the PSTN benchmark)
    during peak versus non-peak hours in terms of audio delay and Mean
    Opinion Score. It had been thought that cable modem subscribers would
    suffer overall service degradation during peak hours (8:00 PM-1:00 AM
    EDT), however the study revealed that while cable modem subscribers did
    experience greater instances of audio delay during peak hours, audio
    clarity (as measured by Mean Opinion Score) was not affected by the
    increased traffic associated with peak hours. DSL connections, on the
    other hand, were found to deliver more consistent peak versus non-peak
    audio delay performance, but were less consistent as measured by MOS.

    Although the top performers in the consumer VoIP services market have
    improved the quality of call audio, calls placed on VoIP phones
    continue to exhibit considerably more audio delay than calls placed on
    traditional PSTN phones. This audio delay can cause callers to talk
    over each other, leading to conversational disruption and missed
    information, which can create frustration among users, especially in a
    business setting.

    Study Focuses on End-User Experience and Includes Skype and Windows
    Live Messenger

    The third Keynote VoIP Competitive Intelligence Study rates the
    relative performance of PSTN, Digital Cable, VoIP hard phone and VoIP
    soft phone service providers (such as Skype and Windows Live Messenger)
    in the New York and San Francisco metro areas. It compares VoIP service
    providers based on reliability and audio clarity over consumer cable
    and DSL lines and evaluates network carrier performance on end user
    perceived call quality.

    The study sought to identify industry trends in service level
    performance since the last Keynote VoIP study and evaluate the range of
    performance between the best VoIP service providers and the worst. The
    study also examined variations between the peak and prime-time
    performance of VoIP providers over various media and pinpointed the
    strengths and weaknesses of each service provider and various voice
    service technologies.

    The current study was expanded from eleven providers in the second
    study (results announced on January 25, 2006) to 12 providers (and 13
    services). Data for the study was collected over a one month period,
    from August 1 through August 31, 2006.

    The Keynote study provides an objective assessment of the critical
    performance factors that affect end-user perception of a VoIP service.
    While several providers and networks did well in certain areas, no
    single provider or network dominated the study in all metrics
    considered. However, the results of the study indicate that in the last
    year, the industry as a whole has shown marked improvement in the key
    performance indicators such as Service Availability and Average MOS.

    Analysts estimate that residential adoption of VoIP service will grow
    to over 26 million homes in 2008 in the US, up from 6.5 Million in
    2004. The SMB and enterprise market forecasts are equally aggressive.
    Even so, VoIP reliability and audio clarity remain important perceived
    factors that limit the widespread adoption of VoIP in consumer markets.
    Additionally, a high rate of customer churn based on dissatisfaction
    with service levels makes it difficult for carriers to break even. Some
    analysts estimate it can take as long as four years for some VoIP
    service providers to recoup the marketing and other costs associated
    with luring a subscriber. While VoIP providers can take heart at the
    strides they have made in improving overall audio quality since the
    last Keynote study, there is still work to be done in order to address
    consumer perceptions about overall VoIP performance versus regular
    telephone service.

    "As VoIP continues to move into the mainstream and challenge the
    incumbent carriers in major markets nationwide, consumers have started
    focusing on two important differentiators, audio quality and
    pricing," said Vik Chaudhary, vice president of marketing and product
    management at Keynote. "As the results of the Keynote study indicate,
    VoIP providers have overcome a major hurdle in the past seven months by
    addressing concerns about overall audio quality, but they still have
    work to do to improve the consistency of their service levels during
    peak versus non-peak hours and to decrease the variation in performance
    levels between the top performers and the rest of the pack."

    With this latest study, Keynote continues to extend its test and
    measurement expertise to embrace emerging technologies such as VoIP,
    streaming and wireless, which are increasingly being adopted by both
    consumer and enterprise users. As VoIP emerges as an influential
    technology that promises to cut consumer phone bills and enterprise
    communications expenses, the Keynote rankings help assess overall VoIP
    quality and highlight market leadership among the various providers.

    How the Study Was Conducted

    The Keynote VoIP Competitive Intelligence Study was conducted using
    Keynote's Voice Perspective? to evaluate critical performance
    factors that affect the consumer's experience with Internet telephone

    Keynote placed local and long distance VoIP calls to destination phone
    numbers on a standard (PSTN) phone service. Calls were placed from San
    Francisco and New York once every 30 minutes on every VoIP provider and
    network carrier combination. A total of 125,000 calls were placed over
    a month-long period. Calls placed using competing VoIP services were
    compared to traditional phone "toll quality" standards to determine
    what residential customers can expect when switching from traditional
    phone lines to VoIP.

    The full study, which is available for purchase from Keynote, includes
    detailed results, custom analysis of the data and all raw measurement

    For more information : www.knowingabout.com
    Knowing About, Sep 18, 2006
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