Voice chat via TeamSpeak

Date of publication

Guess what: COVID-19. We have agreed to work from home if possible (HomeOffice). I asked myself how we can continue the uncomplicated communication in the office (the conversation at the coffee machine)?

Because I miss it - the small talk.

What is TeamSpeak?

One major criticism in advance: TeamSpeak is a proprietary voice conferencing software and for that reason alone does not really fit in with our open source philosophy.

Leaving this circumstance aside for a moment, this is software that already has a long and successful history and is known primarily in/from the gaming scene. A pair of headphones with a microphone and a piece of client software are all you need. And you're already in the wonderful world of uncomplicated audio chat.

I wrote. I miss it - the small talk and I therefore suggest the use of another tool for our communication. Let's test it and record our experiences here.

Why TeamSpeak and not Rocket.Chat/Jitsi Meet/BigBlueButton?

  • Rocket.Chat we have in use. It doesn't have a voice function. Yes we could arrange to meet there and then start a video chat. Feels weird.
  • We use Jitsi Meet or BigBlueButton, but we use it more for meetings and less for small talk. IMHO, the use of the tool for "running on the side" is also not optimal. It happens that the session in the browser needs resources that I would rather use for other work. And leaving my camera on permanently ...

TeamSpeak is not meant to replace a tool but to enhance it.

TeamSpeak's voice quality is quite good and has very low data consumption due to the selection of the Opus Voice audio codec (from 2.73 KiB/s to 7.71 KiB/s).

A TeamSpeak server that I administer privately with an average of 45 users per day and that has been running for 70 days has 27 GB incoming and 65 GB outgoing traffic (= 385 MB/day incoming and 0.93 GB/day outgoing = 385 MB/45User = 8.6MB/day incoming and 0.93 GB/45 User = 20.6 MB/day outgoing). And since we use TeamSpeak differently than the typical gamer, our traffic will be significantly lower.

How to use TeamSpeak?

TeamSpeak divides the communication into channels (rooms) comparable to the channels of Rocket.Chat.

To start with, I suggest that we create a few rooms and name them like they exist in our office. For example, coffee machine, courtyard, conference room. If that's not enough, everyone can create their own rooms. We will see whether these are then used for 1to1 communication or for a meeting with several people.

My suggestion is still that participation is not compulsory but an offer. Some don't like the small talks, others don't drink coffee. But as I wrote above: I miss it. The small talk. So from now on I will be online every day and look forward to our conversations.

What do I need for TeamSpeak?

TeamSpeak requires client software, which is available for all common operating systems including iOS and Android. https://www.teamspeak.de/download/

No user account is required.

After installing TeamSpeak, all you have to do is connect to the server and you can start right away. It goes without saying that there is an admin who has to configure the authorisation system, which is admittedly not easy to understand.

The rights and role system of TeamSpeak offers the possibility to realise complex structures.

Data protection

Our TeamSpeak server is a self-hosted instance in Germany. I have not yet looked at the traffic with analysis tools, but I suspect the following communication between our instance and the central TeamSpeak servers will happen in the background:

  • Licence check - TeamSpeak is a licensed product. I strongly suspect that the instance transmits a server ID, current licence and IP address at start-up.
  • Announcement for active TeamSpeak servers - Each TeamSpeak server is displayed in a central list. The name of the server, IP address and the current number of connected clients are displayed. Good news: this listing can be deactivated.

The listing is deactivated with a user in the administrative role as follows:

  • edit virtual server
  • Select more
  • Select the Miscellaneous tab
  • Deselect report to server list

Whether and if so, what other data will be transferred, I cannot say at the moment. In my estimation, TeamSpeak is playing fair. Otherwise they would not have been on the market for so long. If I can find the time, I'm happy to run the analysis tools over a running intranet.

With the TeamSpeak client, you have to play along a bit. As long as we all make sure that our client software is not connected to TeamSpeak myteamspeak's service and we opt out of sending anonymous statistics, no telemetry data will be sent to TeamSpeak's servers.

You deactivate the use of myteamspeak in the client in the tab myTeamSpeak and you deactivate the statistics here -> "Settings", "Options" and then "Applications".

I have created all channels with active encryption.

Let’s smalltalk

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DeepL is a deep learning company that develops AI systems for languages. The company, based in Cologne, Germany, was founded in 2009 as Linguee, and introduced the first internet search engine for translations. Linguee has answered over 10 billion queries from more than 1 billion users.

Elias Hackradt