Why Your Zoom Calls Keep Failing

Why Your Zoom Calls Keep Failing

Once the pandemic is over, Zoom will face an uncertain future, although it’s expected that many companies will continue to allow their employees to work from home.

Over the course of the last year, Zoom has gone from a little-known Skype rival to perhaps the most ubiquitous platform for group video calls. That was caused, of course, by the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept students and office workers home for nearly a year.

When important meetings are held over Zoom, it can be especially annoying when the calls drop, buffer or otherwise stop working. What’s the cause of it, when such things happen? There are quite a few. 

There are occasions when an outside outage affects Zoom. The Zoom section of the website Down Detector provides updates on whether Zoom is down, and most recently Zoom was affected by the massive Internet outage on Jan. 26, the one that’s been attributed to a severed cable in the New York area, but affected numerous highly-used Internet services.

But more often than not, the problem causing Zoom outages has to do with the weakness of the signal in the user’s home or other location where they are working. 

“If you are experiencing any issue(s) with latency, frozen screen, poor quality audio, or meeting getting disconnected while using a home or non-enterprise WiFi connection, try the following,” the Zoom tech support page says, listing several possible solutions, including taking an Internet speed test, upgrading their WiFi router firmware, using a WiFi extender, or switching from WiFi to a wired connection. 

The website Speedify looked at the common causes of Zoom problems last year. 

“Zoom meetings [are] made and broken by the quality of your Internet connection. If that’s good, you will be able to enjoy fluent, full detailed Zoom calls. If your Zoom connection is bad, stuff like buffering and disconnects will happen.” That site went on to list several problems, such as being too far away from the Wi-Fi router, poor/slow cellular coverage, old and out-of-date network hardware, ISP infrastructure issues, and “peering” issues with Zoom servers. Speedify also pitches its own services in solving such problems.

There’s no doubt that the last year has been good for Zoom Video Communications’ stock. It was trading at $88.64 a share a year ago and is now trading at $390.58 a share, after reaching as high as $559 a share last October. But the arrival of vaccines hasn’t killed the company; it was trading at $360 a share at the start of the year and has now reached $390.

Once the pandemic is over, Zoom will face an uncertain future, although it’s expected that many companies will continue to allow their employees to work from home. It’s even been suggested that keeping Zoom meetings open post-pandemic may have its advantages.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters