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HN Blog: Should you get your own audio conference bridge?

Download our eBook: "Which Hosted VoIP Solution is Right for You?"

by Jeremy Vignaux, VP Technology

In the business world, most of us have been on a conference call at least once in the past year. If you're lucky enough, you may have been the one who organized the call and had to send out the invitation that included the dial-in and access code.

Many companies use a bridge service to host their conference calls. There are lots of service providers out there that can host calls. Most charge "per minute per participant" and there are even a few that are free. This prompts the question: Maybe you want to have your own internal conference bridge as part of your Unified Communications system?

Reason 1 - Audio Quality

Most people don't realize that many conferencing services (especially the free ones) have to jam as many calls as they can into their infrastructure to make money. Corners are cut to make this happen - especially around the issue of delay. You might have noticed that on a free bridge, the callers have a tendency to talk over one another. This is because all caller audio is delayed just a bit too much.

It's a little like talking to a spacecraft where you have to say "over" after every sentence so the other side doesn't start talking before they hear your full sentence. Calls like these can be very frustrating. Fortunately, an on-premises conference bridge never has this issue.

Reason 2 - Convenience

Today's UC-based conference bridges provide graphical tools to create, invite people and manage ongoing conference calls. These tools enable you to quickly add conference bridge details to meeting appointments created in Microsoft Outlook with a single click. Many also have a graphical interface to manage the bridge call in progress. This enables the host to mute participants, to alert others who forgot to join, or even to record the call.

Prerequisites

Before obtaining your own conference bridge, consider the following:

Cost - Perform a little financial analysis to determine if purchasing your own bridge might pay for itself with the savings from not buying bridge services from your provider.

Trunks and call paths - If you want to host a 20-person call where 19 of the participants are outside of your phone system, remember that you'll be using 19 call paths to the outside world (PSTN). If you have a single PRI voice T1 on your phone system, it only has 23 call paths. You would be using almost 83% of your phone line capacity for that one conference call! In contrast, if you were to host that call on an outside service you'd only be using one path to call out to the bridge.

Having your own audio conference bridge can provide tremendous savings and convenience for your users. Harbor Networks will be happy to help with your analysis or demonstrate the conference bridge services provided by ShoreTel.

Download our eBook: "Which Hosted VoIP Solution is Right for You?"

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