During a conference call, there is generally nothing worse than hearing echo being introduced into a call. Participants will hear what sounds like good quality audio, but twice (or more) as a result of this. Conference call hardware generally has two classes of equipment: those with "echo cancellation" or without. The quality of the call can be significantly degraded on systems without the echo cancellation.
AccuConference uses state of the art DSP technology (Digital Signal Processors) that employ an echo cancellation algorithm. The result is that echo is significantly reduced during a conference call. There are always things that will introduce echo no matter what, such as putting a phone in the same room as another phone in the conference call. Telephone microphones are very sensitive and even the slightest sound can be picked up and echoed to the other phone and amplified. Cellular phones are notorious for this, as there is an inherent delay introduced with a wireless network. As a result, AccuConference recommends never having two participants in the same room, unless both are muted. The result is that the quality of the call will be the highest possible.
AccuConference provides superior technology that virtually eliminates the problems associated with bridging large numbers of participants onto a single call. Our bridges regularly handle calls up to 1000 participants, and have the capability of handling much more when necessary. As a result, customers can rest assured that the quality of the call will not be affected by adding more callers to the conference. Each caller will hear the highest possible quality signal from the speaker, whether it is a 3 person conference, or a 300 person conference.
We highly recommend that customers utilize the *5 lecture mode for more than 10 participants on a conference. This allows the speakers and moderators to better control the people that speak into a call. Without it, a call could have any number of the problems listed above introduced, since the number of potential problems increases with the number of phones connected.
AccuConference also provides a unique feature known as “Live Queued Q&A”. This feature allows the participants on a large call to speak one-at-a-time into the conference. The moderator simply announces that the call is now open for questions and answers (Q&A) and instructs participants to press *1 to ask a question. Via the live web-based conference screen, a moderator can see who has asked a question, how many questions are remaining, and where the callers are calling from. To take a question, the moderator simply clicks on the “Take Next Question” link. The participant hears a message instructing them to “Please ask your question now.” They are then unmuted automatically, and allowed to speak into the conference. Once the question has been answered by the speakers, the “Take Next Question” link can be clicked again, muting the first question and allowing the next one to speak. This feature is very popular on large conferences, allowing individuals to participate in the call, without introducing noise or quality issues.
The final piece of a good conference call depends on the conferencing service that the business is using. AccuConference provides a significant number of features that allows customers to customize what messages are played into the conference. This will enable the call to be tailored to the customer’s needs.
On every call AccuConference hosts, a feature known as “DTMF clamping” is employed. This feature essentially traps the touch tones on the phone so that they are not played into the conference. Many other conferencing providers cannot provide this feature, and, as a result, cause a conference call to be of a lower quality. Because DTMF tones are used to activate features (such as the *6 to mute an AccuConference line), many systems simply pass the DTMF tone into the conference, which means that when the moderator goes to mute the phone line with a *6 command, the * and the 6 tones are echoed into the entire conference. DTMF clamping solves this issue. AccuConference bridges trap these tones _before_ they are played into the conference call and simply does not echo them into the call. The result is that when a *6 is pressed to mute a line, the tones are not played into the call, and the conference is not interrupted.
AccuConference also provides, by default, entry and exit tones into a call. These tones signal the arrival of a ne
w party to the call, or can notify the conference when someone drops off. In addition, AccuConference also allows customers to turn on “name recording” to be played into a conference. The result is that an announcement of the person joining the call is played into the call as well as the entry tone. As an additional feature, the AccuConference website allows customers to choose whether or not entry/exit tones and/or name recording are turned on at all. By disabling both, the call will not be interrupted when people join or drop off. A customer can continue to monitor the call via the AccuConference website to determine when someone joins or disconnects.
The first and most important component of a good telephone call is always the phone itself. Businesses generally have a PBX system or some higher quality telephones, and the richness of the audio in the conference reflects this. Purchase an inexpensive phone, and the call will reflect it.
Recently, headsets have become very popular in the business world. In prior years, only customer service and call-center agents made use of them. The last few years have seen a rise in the number of businesses that have begun outfitting their employees with headsets. We recommend any headset from Plantronics (http://www.plantronics.com). These headsets are generally more expensive, but with features such as noise cancellation and secure communications, they provide superior quality as well as comfort for the wearer. Their top of the line models even work wirelessly with any desk phone. Beware of lower priced and lower quality headsets. They can damage a conference call faster than any other factor.
Speakerphones are generally considered poor for hosting conference calls. Some of the top of the line speakerphones, such as the ones from Polycom (http://www.polycom.com) are better than most, but because of the sensitivity of the speaker and the close proximity of the microphone, they have a tendency to introduce extra noise and sometimes echo into the conference. If the phone is on a conference table, then if someone bumps the table accidentally with their knee, the sound vibrates the entire table, and by default, the speakerphone itself. The entire conference must suffer through these little clicks and bumps. This is why speakerphone use is generally discouraged for a conference.
We have all heard about different conferencing possibilities that are out there to enhance business and educational communication. However, some inquiries still arise when we are confronted with what services best fit our needs and the demands of those around us. Teleconferencing, for instance, contrary to videoconferencing which implies the use of video, is undergone only with audio support. Tele conferencing (also referred to as audio conferencing and conference calling) is carried out over regular telephone lines and can be conducted rather inexpensively.
When choosing a service, there are two main alternatives, reservationless or operator-assisted. The first comes into view as the most economical and user friendly as a telephone number and pin code are the only needed requirements to get you started. What’s more, it abolishes any possible human error consequence of operator assisted services. Greater flexibility is offered as it is permanently available and once you have adhered to the service, you only need to worry about setting a time and date with your participants to perform a meeting.
Operator assisted teleconferencing, on the other hand, is recommended for meetings with larger number participants and can avoid potential problems that come up as a
result. An operator is available to carry out certain tasks such as checking out or adding participants, splitting larger groups into smaller clusters, as well as perform a variety of other services. Organizing an operated assisted conference, however, implies calling an operator a day in advance.
View our Whitepaper: 10 Questions to ask your Provider - Download Now
When the average citizen is asked to indicate aspects of life they are most concerned with, health will inevitably come up at the top of the list. Having access to proper health care is an issue that governments constantly battle with. New technologies are sought to respond to the needs of both practitioners and patients. Videoconferencing has, therefore, gained strength in the medical field as a mean to respond to some of the present medical challenges.
The practice of medicine using interactive video has enormous benefits, many of which are still to be exploited. Teleconferencing allows consultations and other medical services to take place without the need for doctor and patient to be in the same physical space. Health care has, therefore, become more accessible to patients living in more remote locations, who otherwise would not have the means to commute to a local hospital or health care centre. Patients are followed more closely as financial and travel constraints no longer are a concern. Patients see their hospitalization time reduced as well, as doctors can follow up on their condition through videoconferencing. Such a situation benefits health care organizations as patient expenses are reduced, as well as the actual patient who can continue treatment from the comfort of their home.
On an educational level, Video Conferencing has become an important tool which can offer medical staff ongoing training. On the other hand, videoconferencing puts doctors in contact, regardless of where they are thus granting them greater confidence in patient diagnosis as they are in easy reach of a second opinion. What’s more, doctors have easy access to patient information which can accelerate and assist patient analysis.
As the medical world exploits telemedicine for its obvious benefits, its contribution to saving lives arises as the greatest of them all.
Imagine being able to go to your local health clinic (no matter how remote your community) and being able to consult with the most experienced specialists in virtually any medical field. This is one of the opportunties that telemedicine can bring to all of us.
Telemedicine can empower local communities by improving access to quality medical care. Travel times and waiting will be reduced, and eventually advanced robotics could even provide a means for surgeons to operate via long distances. Believe it or not, these technologies are already being used.
The following is from the Orlando Sentinel:
“Telemedicine is widely used already, with doctors consulting each other from thousands of miles apart, even examining patients through video. Advances in robotics also will make it possible someday for doctors to operate on patients in remote settings.”
The future for telemedicine is bright, indeed.