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User receives choppy or garbled voice quality over a WLAN connection in a congested radio environment

Core Issue

A congested radio environment with high error rates and a lack of QoS configuration causes poor quality voice equivalent to that of a mobile phone.


The voice symptoms can range from tunnel voice to choppy  voice and may at times sound synthetic.

For more information, refer to Recognizing and Categorizing Symptoms of Voice Quality Problems.

To ensure that a Wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure does not have a negative affect on voice quality, take these considerations into account:

  • Radio Frequency (RF) planning: Any WLAN network needs proper RF planning and a site survey. However, if you are planning on implementing VoIP across it, then this stage is vital. A congested radio environment or a high number of Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors will hamper attempts to implement QoS.
  • Half-duplex nature: WLAN is very similar to a bridged Ethernet network and the MAC access method is almost identical to Carrier Sense Multiple Access (CSMA) with Collision Detection (CD). Remember that a 10 Mb shared WLAN only provides 5 Mb of bandwidth. In addition, in the WLAN environment, background RF noise can be seen as another station trying to transmit, thereby further reducing the usable bandwidth.
  • QoS and VLANs are now available on Cisco WLAN infrastructure.

    QoS information is available for these products:

    For an example of QoS configuration for VoIP on a WLAN infrastructure, refer to the A Wireless QoS Deployment Example section of Configuring Filters and Quality of Service.

  • For a useful resource for information on VoIP over WLAN, refer to the Cisco Networking Professionals Connection Wireless - Mobility forum.