Friday, April 13, 2007

Do I really need a special phone for conference calls?

Many conferencing service providers round out their offerings with a variety of phone equipment. Some companies won't even allow you to use their services without purchasing their phone equipment. But is it worth it?

Some providers use VOIP technology, which may require a change in your office's phone equipment. This can potentially be cost-effective in the long run, but quality can be variable and some users experience a steep learning curve.
Other companies may require that only their equipment be used with the specialized lines and services that they provide to handle high call-volume businesses. Service calls for both of these setups can also be pricey.

Still other companies offer phones designed specifically with conferencing in mind. These phones offer features like noise and echo cancellation and microphone priority settings. A conferencing phone may enhance a conference, especially for frequent conferencers or the image-conscious, but it's certainly not mandatory.

The best solution for most conferencing users is still a plain old telephone. You can conference with whatever happens to be nearby. Speakerphone might be nice, or maybe a headset, and I won't lie and say that cell phones don't contribute a bit of extra noise to a conference call, but with services like you can use any working telephone to start or join a conference call - even a payphone.

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