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Can You Hear Me Now?! It Must be BGP.

Nate Kushman, Srikanth Kandula, and Dina Katabi


Industry observers expect VoIP to eventually replace most of the existing land-line telephone connections. Currently however, quality and reliability concerns largely limit VoIP usage to either personal calls on cross-domain services such as Skype and Vonage, or to single-domain services such as trunking, where a core ISP carries long-distance voice as VoIP only within its backbone, to save cost with a uni-fied voice/data infrastructure. This paper investigates the factors that prevent cross-domain VoIP deployments from achieving the quality and reliability of existing land-line telephony (PSTN). We ran over 50,000 VoIP phone calls between 24 locations in US and Europe for a three-week period. Our results indicate that VoIP usability is hindered as much by BGP's slow convergence as network congestion. In fact, about half of the unintelligible VoIP samples in our data occur within 10 minutes of a BGP update.


Publication typeArticle
Published inACM Computer Communications Review (CCR)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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