Microsoft Teams call quality dashboard: A sound feature you should use

Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the go-to communications platform for organizations that have adopted Microsoft 365. Being that Teams plays such an important role in helping those within an organization to communicate and collaborate with others, it is important to ensure that those who use Teams have a good experience. One of the best ways of doing this is to use the call quality dashboard to monitor call quality.

Enabling the call quality dashboard

You will have to enable the call quality dashboard before you will be able to use it. This is a simple process, but it might not work in quite the way that you would expect it to.

To get started, open the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Next, click on the All Admin Centers option, and then click on the Teams Admin Center, which you can see in the figure below.

Microsoft Teams call quality
When the Teams Admin Center opens, you will be taken to a dashboard view, which provides an overview of the recent Teams usage within your organization. The menu bar on the left side of the screen provides several different configuration options, but the very last item on the menu is the call quality dashboard, as shown in the figure below.

Microsoft Teams call quality
When you click on the Microsoft Teams call quality dashboard link, you will see an error message like the one shown below, indicating that you need to login to access the call quality dashboard.

Microsoft Teams call quality
It seems kind of strange that Teams would generate this error message since you are already logged in. After all, if you weren’t logged in, you wouldn’t be able to access the Teams Admin Center. In any case, click the Sign In button shown in the figure above, and then enter your Microsoft 365 administrative credentials (if you are prompted for them). When you do, you will be taken into the Microsoft Call Quality Dashboard.

Initially, the Microsoft call quality dashboard will be empty. Based on my own experience, it can take an hour or more for Teams to populate the dashboard. Eventually, though, you should see a display that is similar to the one that is shown in the next figure.

The charts that are shown in the figure above take a little bit of getting used to, but I will show you how they work. If you look at the bar chart in the upper, left portion of the screen, you can see that it is labeled Audio Streams Monthly Trend. In other words, this chart shows the total number of audio streams, broken down on a month by month basis. I don’t use Teams all that much, so the numbers shown in the chart are ridiculously low. However, you can see that there were two classified audio streams in November, four in February, eight in April, and six in May.

In my case, all of the chart’s bars are blue. If you look at the legend in the upper right portion of the screen, you will notice that the color blue corresponds to good call quality. Similarly, grey would reflect a stream whose quality was unclassified, and red reflects poor call quality.

If you look closely at the charts shown in the previous figure, you will notice that there are a series of numbers shown in orange that run along the right side of the chart. These numbers are there to help you to determine the percentage of audio streams for which the call quality was poor. There are also orange and white circles superimposed over each of the chart’s bars. These circles correspond to the value shown on the right side of the chart. In other words, you can use the orange and white circles to figure out the percentage of audio streams that suffered from poor call quality. In my case, there were no poor quality streams, so all of the orange and white circles align with the 0 marker, indicating that zero percent of the audio streams had poor quality. If you need a little bit of extra help interpreting what the numbers mean, just hover your mouse above one of the orange and white circles. When you do, your browser will display a pop-up summarizing the chart’s information.

As helpful as the Overall Call Quality chart might be, it leaves one big question unanswered. How does Microsoft Teams differentiate between a good quality audio stream and an audio stream that is suffering from poor quality?

Microsoft uses a series of classifiers to assess the end-user experience within Teams. There is an Audio Classifier, a Video Classifier, an Application Sharing Classifier, and so on. Each of these classifiers is based around a series of metrics. The Audio Classifier, for example, consists of five individual metrics. If any of these metrics fall outside of a predetermined threshold value, the audio stream is determined to be suffering from poor quality. Here is a breakdown on the Audio Classifier metrics:

  • Audio Degradation Average: The Audio Degradation Average is based on the amount of network jitter and packet loss, as it relates to an audio stream. If the average audio degradation is found to be above 1.0, then the stream is classified as being of poor quality.
  • Round Trip: The Round Trip metric reflects the number of milliseconds that it takes a packet to make a round trip between two people who are speaking with one another. A value greater than 500 milliseconds is considered to be a reflection of poor call quality.
  • Packet Loss Rate: The Packet Loss Rate is a measurement of the average amount of packet loss experienced by the stream. A value greater than 0.1 is considered to be indicative of poor audio quality.
  • Jitter: In computer networking, jitter is a variation in the amount of time that packets take to reach their destination. If a network is congested for example, then some packets might be delivered more quickly than others. A little bit of jitter is normal, but excessive jitter negatively impacts a stream’s audio quality. If a stream’s average jitter is found to be greater than 30 milliseconds, then the audio is considered to be of poor quality.
  • Ratio Concealed Samples Avg: The Ratio Concealed Samples Avg metric compares the total number of audio frames to the number of samples that were generated by a packet loss healing mechanism, and then determines a ratio. If this ratio is above 0.07 then it is interpreted as poor audio quality.

A helpful resource

The Microsoft Teams call quality dashboard can be a helpful resource when troubleshooting audio issues, but it contains a wealth of other information as well. In addition to the basic summary report shown in this article, the call quality dashboard can provide you with detailed reports about many different aspects of Microsoft Teams. It is worth your time to explore this dashboard and to familiarize yourself with the available reports.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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