What is Phone Echoing Causes & How to Fix it ? - XINIX

Phone Echoing

The importance of effective and seamless communication cannot be overstated in today’s hyper-connected world; whether it is domestic or business communication. Digital advanced technologies are replacing the conventional systems. However, there are certain limitations and issues with every communication system. A common issue is phone echo; which may happen both in traditional landlines as well as VoIP systems.

Phone echo refers to constant sound repetition during a phone call. The caller hears his own voice playback, repetition and brief delay. This results in an audible echo effect, creating distortion and disruption making it difficult to carry on an effective conversation.

Phone echoing is one of the key complaints of users. Not only is this situation annoying and frustrating, but it also makes it difficult to understand the message being delivered.

As a business, such an issue shows lack of professionalism and is potentially damaging your reputation. It impacts the client’s trust in your services. Therefore, it is imperative to address such issues in order to ensure seamless and effective communication and to foster long-term relationships.

Understanding phone echo and its types

The result of phone echoing is that the person’s own voice is reflected back during a call, there is sound overlapping and distortion resulting in poor and disrupted communication.  

In general the sound echo is categorized into: 

  • Acoustic echo – this mainly happens when microphone and speakers are closely placed. Due to close proximity, the microphone picks up the sound coming from the speaker, resulting in audible echo.
  • Network echo – also called electrical echo and is the result of poor signals and discrepancies with the phone network. This usually happens in long distance calls because sometime the transmitted voice signal reflects back to the caller due to network discrepancies.

In addition to these, phone echo can be further categorized into:

Sidetone echo

This is a standard feature in phone systems to provide a natural feedback mechanism. This echo is crucial for it ensures the natural tone of the conversations as it allows the speaker to hear their voice through the receiver. Thus, this is an intentional yet controlled type of echo. However, this is problematic when excessive.

Line echo 

also termed as hybrid echo, is when the person’s own voice is reflected back after a brief delay. This happens when the caller’s voice is transmitted to the receiver, but reflected back due to mismatched signals.   

What causes phone echo?

There are several contributing factors for phone echoing. It can be due network errors, poor infrastructure, as well as software related issues. This issue is not just limited to certain specific phone systems. Both traditional landlines and VoIP connections may face such issues. However, this is more noticeable in VoIP connections; mainly because of inherent delay.

Here are some of contributing factors for phone echoing:

  • Hardware issues:  Poor infrastructure, network issues and malfunctioning hardware such as headset, router, speakers etc often cause echo.
  • Software issues: Malware, errors and incompatibilities of software such as in case of VoIP phone system.
  • Line impedance:  This refers to resistance in signal transmission in phone lines. It causes phone echoing when electrical characteristics of various parts of the telephone network are incompatible and mismatched.  
  • Signal reflection:  This may happen due to poor connections of cables and line impedance. The caller’s voice is reflected back, creating an echo.
  • Acoustic feedback:  Mainly caused by close placement of microphone and speaker. Thus, the microphone picks up sound coming from the speaker and results in sound reverberation.
  • Network latency:  This  is often an issue with long distance calls because of slow and delayed data transmission over the network.

Network latency up to levels of 35 milliseconds in one-way transmission is acceptable as the speaker cannot distinguish this much echo. However, if the delay is more than 35 milliseconds, it is problematic and results in echo. 

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Here is why phone echoing is problematic:

Communication issues such as phone echo are often problematic particularly in business setup. This causes discomfort and distraction both for the caller and the user. Furthermore, delayed response, frequent call drops and distortion makes it difficult to communicate effectively.

This may also cause misunderstanding and failure to deliver the message between both parties. From a customer’s point of view, such issues reflect your lack of professionalism and tarnishes the brand’s image.

Thus, in order to enhance user’s experience and to ensure seamless communication, it is important to mitigate phone echo.

How to fix phone echo?

Microphone and speaker placement – use handset for this purpose. The separation of microphone and speaker helps prevent acoustic echo. Otherwise, make sure to keep both sufficiently distant.

Ensure network quality – in case of poor connectivity, line impedance and phone echoing, contact your service provider.

In addition, optimize network infrastructure, upgrade equipment and ensure necessary installations. Also conduct line testing for quality checks.

Implementation of echo cancellation techniques 

Telecommunication systems implement echo cancellation techniques to mitigate phone echo. The echo cancellation algorithm consists of three stages; echo identification, estimation and subtraction. Furthermore, these techniques implement adaptive filtration techniques to prevent and mitigate sound reverberation or echo.

Understanding Echo Cancellation Technologies

Most telecommunication companies implement advanced echo cancellation technologies in phone systems to ensure optimal call quality and to prevent echo. some of echo cancellation techniques are:

Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC)

Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) is a signal processing technique, specifically designed to mitigate acoustic echo. The echo cancellation algorithm first identifies and analyzes the audio signals from the microphone and speaker. Next, it estimates the portion of the sound that may be contributing to the echo. Eventually, the problematic sound portion is subtracted from the microphone signal, resulting in echo cancellation before it is transmitted to the other party.

Network Echo Cancellation (NEC)

This echo cancellation technique addresses the issue caused by network errors and network latency. The algorithm analyzes the voice packets being delivered over the network. It identifies the delayed voice packets responsible for creating the echo effect and thus removes them for optimal call quality.

Adaptive Filtration 

This type of echo cancellation implements both acoustic as well as network echo cancellation algorithms. In this case, the echo cancellation algorithm adapts in real time according to changing acoustic conditions and network characteristics. The technique continuously identifies, estimates and removes sound signals ensuring that the cancellation remains effective throughout the call.

In addition to these fundamental echo cancellation techniques, there are some more advanced yet complex techniques for the purpose. These are:

  • Frequency domain echo cancellation – analyzes spectral characteristics of signals, estimates and then removes problematic parts  
  • Double-talk detection –  distinguishes desired speech from unwanted echo and enable echo cancellation  
  • Echo tail length estimation – estimates the duration of echo. The technique further involves correlation analysis, statistical methods and delay estimation.
  • Nonlinear processing – it improves call clarity by echo cancellation particularly when sound signals are of nonlinear characteristics.

Depending on several factors such as system type, complexity, echo types, desired results etc. a combination of these echo cancellation techniques is used.

The Future of Phone Echoing Cancellation

With the technological advancements in every aspect of life, there is a promising future of echo cancellation. There are exceptional innovations in hardware, artificial intelligence, machine learning models and signal processors and echo cancellation chips. All of these will contribute to prevent and mitigate phone echo and related issues.

Advanced echo cancellation algorithms will help to adapt in diverse acoustic environments. Furthermore, integration of echo cancellation techniques with the phone system can offer desired results of seamless communication and crystal clear call quality.

Virtual assistants, IoT devices and smart speakers are already using some advanced level echo cancellation techniques.

In conclusion, we can expect even better echo cancellation, seamless communication and optimal call quality in the communication system, in upcoming years.  

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Why do I hear my own voice when I call someone?

This phenomenon is called acoustic phone echo. What happens is your voice travels across the phone line and reaches the call recipient. Their phone speaker picks up the sound and the microphone plays it. Thus, the sound travels back to the caller and you may hear your own voice.

Why do phones echo sometimes?

There are multiple contributing factors for phone echo. It can be hardware or software related issues, poor network infrastructure or malfunctioning devices etc.    

What is an echo test on the phone?

An echo test helps you check the quality of voice being transmitted during a phone call. Usually, the users are provided with a service number for echo test and quality assurance.   

Why do I hear talking coming from my phone?

In telecommunication terms, this is called acoustic phone echo, in which the caller can hear sound reverberation during a call. It may happen because of network issues, malware and malfunctioning devices.      

How do I fix my phone from echoing?

You should check your speaker and microphone placements; both must be at a distance. You may also disable Wi-Fi calling feature and call recording as well. Run an echo test and ask your service provider if the issue persists as they may implement echo cancellation techniques.   

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