This forum includes tips for maintaining the best audio quality possible with the Ooma System. If your Ooma system is having issues with dropped calls, static audio or echo, look here for assistance.
#30440 by bsumpter
Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:28 pm
Hello ... new Ooma user here. I am having major call quality issues with Ooma, and am hoping someone here would be able to offer some helpful advice. I am a long-time VoIP user, and have been using Vonage since July 2003. The entire time I've been on Vonage I've also been on Comcast cable, and while I'm not particularly thrilled with the Comcast service I have had fairly consistent VoIP calls through their network over the years.

Recently I decided to finally ditch Vonage for something more reasonably priced, as all of the fees and other charges over the years have steadily rose until my $24.95 account was billing me at $35.00 or so per month. Call quality with Vonage has also went down over the last year, so this week I finally pulled the trigger on a Hub / Scout unit from Amazon.

Hookup was easy, and I used the recommended Modem --> Ooma --> Router method. Call quality is actually pretty good until my home network starts getting busy. For instance, I can talk on Ooma and sound fine to the other party, but as soon as iTunes starts a podcast download that's it - the other end can barely understand me. The same is true if my wife watches a Netflix streaming video while there is an active Ooma call. It is always the other party that hears the choppiness, so this is definitely an upstream issue.

I ran the recommended speed test from these forums, and although I can't find the advanced tab everyone is talking about my results always come back in the "radio" quality section of the chart. Speed tests on various sites always return a fairly consistent 8.00 - 10.00 Mb/s down and 1.00 - 2.00 Mb/s up. Here is what I've tried so far. Please bear with the length of this post - I've really been testing hard on things today:

1) Modem --> Ooma --> Airport Extreme. Quality is acceptable as long as the internal network isn't busy. Once internal traffic picks up, the other (upstream) party hears quite a bit of choppiness and cutouts of my voice. It is still usable, but barely.

2) Modem --> Airport Extreme --> Ooma. Quality is actually better behind the router with an unloaded LAN. When LAN traffic picks up however Ooma becomes unusable. The choppiness and cutouts are so bad you cannot carry on a conversation. This makes sense, as the Airport Extreme has no QoS, and was a primary reason I bought Ooma.

3) Modem --> Linksys 54G (with QoS) --> Ooma. Quality is acceptable as long as the internal network isn't busy. Once the LAN traffic picks up this suffers the same issues as Ooma's own QoS - it just doesn't seem to be able to prioritize the traffic well enough for a clear call. A simply Netflix movie, or Podcast download (not at the same time) was enough to kill the call.

4) Modem --> Airport Extreme --> Vonage. Quality isn't as good as Ooma on an unloaded LAN. Quality is horrible when network traffic is high, and completely unusable due to AEBS lack of QoS. This has been my problem with Vonage for the last year or so, and was part of my decision to dump them, along with the price increases.

5) Skype on iPhone --> Airport Extreme. Quality is perfect. No matter what is going on with the LAN (podcasts, movies, torrents, etc). Honestly, this totally surprised me. No matter how hard I beat up the LAN, I cannot get Skype to miss a beat. There is no QoS going on with Skype either, as mentioned the AEBS does not do any QoS.

While I had Ooma connected directly to the modem (Modem --> Ooma -- AEBS) I tweaked the QoS settings until I was blue in the face. I tried at the default of 384 up / 0 down with poor results. I set it to 512 up, 768 up, 1024 up - didn't seem to matter. If the network was busy internally, call quality was pretty bad. Honestly it just seems like the Ooma QoS just isn't very good at prioritizing the traffic.

I know this is a lot of information, but any help anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated. I am trying really hard to love Ooma, but the Skype experiment has me considering other options now. I simply cannot explain why neither Ooma or Vonage work well on my connection while Skype works perfectly. Ooma would be great if the QoS worked like it should, but honestly I can't see that it is doing so.

Here's to hoping someone can toss me a magic bullet that makes Ooma sing! :)
#30457 by Groundhound
Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:02 am
With Ooma connected directly to the modem, try setting both your downstream QoS speeds to about 75% of whatever your Comcast speed tier is without Powerboost. So if you are on the 12/2 Comcast speed tier, try setting downstream QoS to 9000 Kbps (12000 * .75 = 9000). Leave your upstream at 768 Kbps.

If you have Ooma behind your router, Ooma's QoS settings have no effect. QoS values would need to be set in your router, just give the IP assigned to Ooma (make it static) the highest priority setting with all other taffic given a lower priority.
#30488 by bsumpter
Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:49 am
Thank you for the suggestion, Groundhound.

I just tried your suggested QoS settings with the same results. Everything is fine on an unloaded LAN, and very choppy for the other party when any download or streaming is happening on my side. I understand that the Ooma QoS is irrelevant when the Ooma being routed through the AEBS, and I did set both up and down to zero yesterday when I had things wired that way. As mentioned in my original post however, the AEBS does not have QoS, so really keeping Ooma behind my router isn't really an option for me. I need Ooma to handle its own QoS, and it was a big determining factor when I purchased knowing it could do so.

Current wiring: Modem --> Ooma --> AEBS Router.

Does the Ooma need a reboot when changing the QoS settings, or are they taken on the fly? Also, can anyone explain why I would be having such QoS problems with both Ooma and Vonage while Skype works with no issues? The only thing I can think of is that maybe Comcast is shaping VoIP traffic, and their shaping filter is catching both Ooma and Vonage while Skype sneaks under their radar. Just a guess, but it is the only explanation I can think of. I did another test with Skype last night, and called my wife on her cell. I started a Netflix stream, started uploading a 180MB file to my server, my wife started second Netflix stream, and started uploading photos to her website - Skype was perfect while all of this was going on simultaneously. While the traffic was still going, we hung up on Skype and tried Ooma - it wasn't even usable. By stopping all of the network activity we were running, Ooma became perfect. It seems Ooma is great as long as we don't tax our network with our computers. Otherwise, it can't be used.
#30527 by Bill D
Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:59 pm
I also just installed a new Hub and Scout a few days ago and I'm spending my Sunday testing to decide whether or not to return them while I still can. Like you, I'm also trying my best to like Ooma but I'm having a call quality problem (different than your problem).

Your well-described symptoms seem to only point to QoS at Comcast as you suspected (I recall seeing pro "net neutrality" press stories of carriers assigning low priority to competing services). This would explain Vonage. Unfortunately, I believe the only way you can confirm this is to lug your Ooma setup to a non-Comcast site, like a friend's house (a very good friend).

For comparison, I've run Netflix streaming movies while talking on Ooma over my at&t DSL with no degradation of Ooma bandwidth or call quality and also ran at the same time to measure the left-over bandwidth. The speedtest also didn't cause any Ooma degradation.

I'm using the shareware Tomato 1.25 firmware in my Linksys WRT54G router. It has excellent QoS and built-in tools for viewing network traffic. On my setup it shows a solid 40 kps in and out of the Ooma on a real-time graph. In your situation, it may be helpful to see if your Ooma bandwidth is drooping due to Comcast.

I have Ooma behind my router and have Ooma's Qos disabled, because Tomato 1.25 seems to do a better job of QoS.

I'm having a Scout-only outbound call quality problem that is well-documented by many diligent folks on this forum. My Hub calls have good sound quality both ways. My Scout calls always sound scratchy to the other party, but their voice always sounds good to me. I'm still trying to figure out why and trying some more tests today. Reading your post inspired me to wonder if the Scout calls run on a different TCP port number (in one direction?) which may be treated differently by some carriers.

#30573 by bsumpter
Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:32 pm
I'm also leaning more and more towards some traffic shaping on the Comcast side. For now, I've decided to return Ooma and have purchased a yearly subscription to Skypein and Skypeout ($60 / yr). I'll use the money from the Ooma return to pick up the Ipevo S0-10 desk phone for Skype and that will at least get me away from Vonage and their high costs.

I will be moving to another state next year, and will probably give DSL a try instead of cable once I'm settled in. At that point I may revisit Ooma. As mentioned in my posts above, I don't think this is an Ooma issue. Vonage shows the same symptoms, so this is more than likely an ISP issue. I think Skype uses an odd port (not true SIP) so it probably escapes whatever shaping is going on within Comcast. Oddly enough a local friend uses Ooma on Comcast and has no issues, but he doesn't really push his home network like I do. Since Ooma sounds great here with low network traffic, that could explain why his is working to his satisfaction. I'll touch base with him next week and have him tax the local network while we're on an Ooma call. If I discover anything additional, I'll update this thread.

Thanks for the help, everyone. I hope to be back sometime next year with a glowing Ooma review. Fingers crossed, and for the interim I'll be using Skype to fill the void.
#30578 by Bill D
Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:50 pm
Your decision makes sense to me. I'm also on the brink of returning Ooma because of the poor Scout oubound call quality, but I'll wait a while to see if a solution arises.

I think this new net neutrality legislation warrants a contact to our senators and congressmen ... lenews_wsj

Good luck with Skype. I'm a long term free user and its great - especially with the video.

#30582 by Groundhound
Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:01 pm

If you have not already returned your Ooma, try setting the upstream QoS speed to 200 Kbps. You mentioned that the person you are calling hears the bad call quality, and if Ooma's QoS can help it at all, setting it low like this will be a good test. If it works well you can then experiment with higher settings.
Last edited by Groundhound on Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#30585 by tommies
Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Bill D wrote:Your decision makes sense to me. I'm also on the brink of returning Ooma because of the poor Scout oubound call quality, but I'll wait a while to see if a solution arises.

I think this new net neutrality legislation warrants a contact to our senators and congressmen ... lenews_wsj

Good luck with Skype. I'm a long term free user and its great - especially with the video.


It is known that DSL and HPNA(which is used by the scout and the hub) are interfered with each other if not install properly. This topic had been discuss many times over early on(around Mar-May). This is a thread (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=658) that I found to be usefull, and it helps me with the problem now you are facing(DSL and the scout)

I have DSL 1.5Mb up/256kb down, and I don't have any problem. I try two ooma calls on the same time while streaming video from ESPN360(full screen) and some web browsing on another pc, no problem at all.
#30604 by Bill D
Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:29 pm
tommies wrote:It is known that DSL and HPNA(which is used by the scout and the hub) are interfered with each other if not install properly. This topic had been discuss many times over early on(around Mar-May).

Thanks for the suggestion. I read the posts you pointed out, but I'm not connecting my incoming telco line to my Hub & Scout "wall" ports, so I don't think those posts apply to my situation. Right now, my Hub & Scout are side-by-side and I only have a short (4 inch) jumper between their "wall" ports for their HPNA point-to-point link.

To duplicate the problem I have, call the same landline number from your Hub and then from your Scout. The quality of the voice you hear will be the same on both calls, but your voice will sound scratchy to them on the Scout call. The difference will be enough that if you call them again and speak, they'll easily know if you are calling from the Hub or the Scout. This problem has been written about by several folks on this forum, but not solved. However, I'm really not sure if every Scout/Hub combo has this problem or just some of them. If you have time to try it, I'd apreciate knowing if you have this problem.

#31175 by LetterK
Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:12 pm
Bill -

I have the same problem. I have the Scout connected right to the Hub and get the scratchy voice/trailing scratchy sound. I did a lengthy troubleshoot with a higher level tech and he couldn't verify, but the first call I made to my wife and she heard it. It is always on the non-ooma side of the conversation.

I'm waiting for a replacement Scout, but my worst fear is that it is a input problem with the hub and it could take more lengthy troubleshooting to resolve. So far getting a replacement Scout has been like pulling teeth.

I should mention that my first hub/scout combo went back to the store because of this and the replacement did that same thing. Is this a problem with a large percentage of them?

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