Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Google Voice quality falls off a cliff

I've been saving big bucks on my calls to Canada with Google Grand Central and, more recently, Google Voice. Until about a week ago, that is.

About that time Google Voice call quality went from variable to completely worthless. So I'm back paying the big bucks for an AT&T mobile call. Good thing I didn't drop my discounted Canada calling plan!

I wondered if I was alone, but I'm not ...

...I, too, have noticed poorer quality and longer delay on most of my calls in the past week or so, both incoming and outgoing. All of my calls were domestic...

... i have also seen very very poor quality both incoming and outgoing. Unfortunately this has been the worst since using the service...

...I suspect they're playing with audio codecs and changing them frequently. Truthfully, Grand Central seemed to be a product much closer to public release...

...I have also been experiencing very poor call quality within Canada and from Canada using GV in the past couple of days. And I agree that Google seems to be trying to tweak things at the technical level. Over the past week or so there were DTMF issues in Canada and perhaps elsewhere; these seem to be resolving (so far), but audio quality is now suffering...

...I am in Canada and have had terrible call quality when I receive calls on GV. It reminds me of the quality I used to have with Vonage a few years ago. People say my voice is breaking up, etc, like a bad cell phone call. I can hear my callers just fine though. This has been going on for over a week, and it is happening to my husband and his work colleague, both also in Canada...

So it's nice to know I have company. Of course we don't know the root cause; some phone carriers may not feel entirely happy about carrying Google's VOIP traffic -- for example.

Frustrating, but nothing to do about it at this time. It is a good lesson about limits to "cloud service" quality and customer communication. No, "beta" is not an excuse; when your email app is in beta for several years the word kind of loses its protective power.

Update 5/7/09: Phew. It's back to normal again. An anonymous but seemingly well informed reader tells us a quality improvement measure had failed and was reversed.

Update 1/9/10: Sometimes it's bad for a while, usually it's good. Google has a reporting form for quality issues. I think they use it!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

But google isn't a Voip service at this point is it? From what I understand, it's simply connecting two numbers based on however those numbers would have connected if you'd dialed directly. For example, if i have it call my skype number, it's the quality of the skype client that's important. Likewise if I have it call my cell phone, my cell reception and that of the person I'm calling are the determinative factors. I don't think Google handling any VOIP itself these days. Or am I wrong?

John Gordon said...

Ahh, but among other things it can be.

If you ask Google Voice to connect you to a number in Canada, it dials your phone first. When you pick up, it dials the number in Canada.

The Google connection to Canada is VOIP.

Anonymous said...

I believe the issue has been resolved with Google Voice and normal call quality has returned for the time being.

Jesmi said...

Google voice is under construction, but users of Google voice, if T-Mobile users, can connect their phone number to Google under their Myfaves application, and then make free calls at any time.

Anonymous said...

GV calls to Canada seem to be pretty crappy. If it's VoIP, I'd say it's worse than other VoIP services out there. All I get is static, delays and blank gaps in all my phone calls. Hopefully Google improves this soon.

David said...

I have 5 lines of phone service: AT&T landline, Gizmo, Skype, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile cell. I have been spending most of my time on the AT&T landline and using it with Google Voice exclusively. (I use Google Voice on all my lines.)

In the past two weeks, the Google Voice quality has fallen off a cliff. First it was only on select calls. Now it is on all calls. The quality is so bad that I cannot even use it. I just tell people to call me back on the AT&T line directly w/o using GV and the quality is back to great. This is definitely a GV issue, and a selective one at that.

The weird thing is that the quality of Google Voice + Gizmo is still good. With the reduction in quality when GV calls come into my AT&T line, Gizmo is now the best solution.

It makes me wonder what Google is up to. I would rather be able to use any line with GV -- that's the whole idea behind it.

KevinKevin said...

Local calls sound fine, but when I tried calling Taiwan, it sounds like talking through a tin-can. It's horrible! I tried using regular long-distance connection and it sounds fine. Problem? Somewhere in the Google Voice pipeline, the quality drops off. I'm very disappointed so far.

John Gordon said...

Kevin, report your experience per this later post of mine:

http://tech.kateva.org/2009/12/when-google-voice-goes-bad-report-here.html

Joseph P said...

Hey I followed the steps on this site in order to set up an Alberta number and how to by pass all the barriers from Google to get Google Voice to work in Canada

http://www.sxymobile.com/news/google-voice-canada-outgoing-incoming/

I can now call Unlimited to Canada and the US for free from my cell.