Output attenuation

Cisco Public

Voice signal power in a long-distance connection must be tightly controlled. The delivered signal power must be high enough to be clearly understood, but not so strong that it leads to instabilities such as echo. In the traditional telephony network, telephone companies control the signal power levels at each analog device. Now that the IP network is carrying voice, it may be necessary to adjust signal power on a voice interface to fine-tune the voice quality.

Most initial voice signals enter the network through a two-wire local loop. Most switches connect to other switches through a four-wire connection. As voice travels through the network for delivery to the remote telephone, the voice signal must be passed from the two-wire local loop to the four-wire connection at the first switch, and from the four-wire connection at the switch to a two-wire local loop at the remote end. If the impedance at these two-wire to four-wire connections is not matched exactly, some of the voice signal reflects back in the direction of the source. As a result, originating callers hear their own voice reflected back. Sometimes, the reflected signal is reflected again, causing the destination to hear the same conversation twice.

In a traditional voice network, voice can reflect back; it usually goes unnoticed, however, because the delay is so low. In a VoIP network, echo is more noticeable because both packetization and compression contribute to delay.

Another problem is inconsistent volume at different points in the network. Both echo and volume inconsistency may be caused by a voice port that is generating a signal level that is too high or too low. You can adjust signal strength, either in the inbound direction from an edge telephone or switch into the voice port, or in the outbound direction from the voice port to the edge telephone or switch. Echo results from incorrect input or output levels, or from an impedance mismatch. Although these adjustments are available on the Cisco voice equipment, they are also adjustable on PBX equipment.

Too much input gain can cause clipped or fuzzy voice quality. If the output level is too high at the remote router voice port, the local caller hears echo. If the local router voice port input decibel level is too high, the remote side hears clipping. If the local router voice port input decibel level is too low, or the remote router output level is too low, the remote-side voice can become distorted at a very low volume and DTMF may be missed.

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