Onion Approach To Wi-Fi Troubleshooting Basics: Testing Voice Applications 1, 2, 3

By George Stafanick, Blog Contributor
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Voice over Wi-Fi is one of many sensitive applications used over Wi-Fi networks today. In some environments like healthcare voice is critical. When a caregiver hits dial on a phone, it has to go through there is no compromise and no forgiveness. In my environment we manage over 3,000 Wi-Fi voice handsets.

Either testing a newly deployed network or a suspected problem area, the easiest thing you can do is validate the network with the actual voice handset.

Over the years, you build a process that works for you. In this Onion Approach I will share my approach validating the voice application.

Here are two approaches:

Two-Person Testing 

When testing in a team, one user uses a wired LAN phone and the other a voice Wi-Fi handset. We determine the test area as a team. The user testing the voice Wi-Fi handset will walk the area and start the count. The user on the voice Wi-Fi handset will start with  (1), the user on the LAN phone will follow with (2), the user on the voice Wi-Fi handset will follow with (3) and so on.

This test allows for both users to evaluate upstream and downstream traffic. It also allows you to hone into specific areas when you hear issues with call quality like roaming pops, lost words, or even dropped calls. It is important to test with a known working phone first. Then test with the user's phone. This helps to identify any possible issues with broken phones.

Try and avoid voice Wi-Fi handset to voice Wi-Fi handset testing as your initial test. As you might imagine, if you have issues it might be difficult to determine which user and which handset had the problem and where.

One-Person Testing 

Solo testing presents some challenges but nothing we can't overcome. Here are a few options to test by yourself.

Using the voice Wi-Fi handset you have a number of options. While these options only test downstream, meaning traffic coming to you, it is better then nothing.

You can:

  • Call an outside weather station with a recording
  • Create a test tone on a LAN phone
  • Call a LAN phone and play a radio next to the phone