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VoIP Call Recording

Voice over Internet Protocol is when a voice conversation is sent over a corporate LAN/WAN and/or the Internet. The voice signal is split into separate data packets and these packets are then transmitted over a data network to the desired destination. The separate packets are reassembled at the receiving end and the digital information is converted back into a duplicate of the original voice signal. Most current VoIP implementations today are a hybrid of traditional and VoIP telephony.

Typical VoIP Hybrid Recording System Configuration
Typical VoIP Hybrid System Configuration

The VoIP gateway bridges the PSTN and the VoIP network. A gateway receives calls from the traditional network, generally through a T-1 interface, converts them to VoIP data packets and routes them to the appropriate receiving device.

Another key component in a VoIP network is the IP switch (Softswitch). The Softswitch coordinates call control functions, such as call setup, termination, routing, and advanced features like conferencing. In some implementations the Softswitch function is contained within the Gateway.

Two of the basic types of recording in a traditional telephony environment are Trunk-Side and Station-Side and are available choices in the VoIP call recording environment as well.

But the first decision to be made when looking at ways to record VoIP calls is whether a VoIP recording system is even actually needed.

Trunk Side VoIP Recording
Trunk-side Recording using a Traditional Voice Recorder

If all the calls to be recorded are carried on traditional T-1’s and internal calls are not required to be recorded, a trunk-side VoIP call recording method can be used. This would record all calls where they enter the center, including those directed to VoIP phones.

Recording in a VoIP system utilizes a commonly found feature of IP network switches called port mirroring. This feature provides the capability to copy data packets from one port on the switch to another destination on the network. In a Cisco environment this feature is called SPAN, which is short for Switched Port ANalyzer.

VoIP Call Recording using port mirroring capabilities
Recording using Port Mirroring Capabilities

Although this feature was originally intended to provide monitoring and diagnostic support in a network, it is very useful as a way to record VoIP conversations. Using this method, the switches in a network are configured to mirror data packets from VoIP phone ports to ports on a VoIP call recording system.

VoIP Recording
Recording using Virtual IP Phones

Benefits of VoIP Call Recording

VoIP call recording provides specific advantages over traditional telephony recording approaches. These advantages often justify the costs associated with migrating to a full VoIP recording system even in cases where there exists a mixture of VoIP and traditional telephony devices.

Some of these advantages include:

  • Centralized Recording — Removes the need to implement recording capabilities at remote sites and provides for more efficient use of recording resources. System maintenance and support requirements are also lower.
  • Faster Implementation — There is no need to re-wiring or tap into traditional telephony wiring. Configuration is also typically much easier.
  • Reduced Maintenance Costs — Moves, adds and changes can be implemented without the need for cable rewiring, punch downs or cross connects.
  • Scalability — Adding additional recording channels can usually be done by simply expanding a software license.
  • Remote Branch and Home Agent Support — The unique ability of VoIP telephony to easily support remote-branch or at-home agents greatly simplifies the process of extending recording capabilities to these locations.

No two projects are the same, however, as business requirements, operational needs and existing configurations can vary widely. The following general suggestions can also help in ensuring a smooth and successful transition to VoIP call recording:

  • Make sure you have a good business case for implementing a VoIP based call recording system. In some cases, a traditional voice recording system can accommodate the addition of VoIP telephones.
  • Engage with IT as early as possible during the planning process to get advanced insight into potentially complicating issues. Work together with IT to decide which recording approach works best for your environment and business needs.
  • Consider starting small if possible. Implement a single site to better understand the real-world issues you will be dealing with.
  • Check to see that an accurate and complete network topology diagram is available indicating what levels of access are provided across different points of the network. In cases where "visibility" is restricted, multiple recorders may be needed to capture all calls.
  • Confirm that network resiliency and redundancy issues are addressed to ensure reliability.
  • In hybrid (mixed IP and traditional telephony) approaches make sure the recording system can integrate both telephony types into a single environment.

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