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Some items that a company should consider when choosing an Audio Conference System:

  1. Web Based Admin Portal.  For larger audio conference solutions a web based portal is important to provide complete conference control to the conference moderator. Having the ability to see who is on a conference and which participant is speaking is important. The ability to call out and bring some in on a conference is also very important.

  2. Presenter Sharing.
    Occasionally the need to share a presentation is required during an audio conference. A presenter should have the ability to pass control of the conference to another presenter. This is very crucial in audio with web conferencing. 

  3. Reservation based and Reservationless Conferencing. An audio conference system should have the ability to provide both reservation based and reservationless conferencing. Reservationless conferences are smaller spur of the moment conference calls and should be convenient. A larger teleconference might use up a significant number of available ports and should be scheduled as to reserve ports. Reservation based conferencing should be easy to set up with options for re-occurring conferences.

  4. Audio and Web Recording The ability to offer recordings of your conference calls can be a major feature especially if you do employee or end user training. Recordings can be posted for others to view at any time. There are times when participants can not attend a conference call and having the ability to post a conference is a real benefit.

  5. Logging of Conference Calls.
    Conference call reports provide detailed information of conference calls. Who attended a conference what time a person logged and what time they logged out of a conference call can help administrators keep track of usage. This can be helpful if needing to bill back to specific departments.

  6. Growth Capabilities.  Companies that use conferencing usually end up using more conferencing. Future expansion capabilities are important. How easy is it to expand a system? How much growth is available on a system? Purchasing a system with at least 30% expansion capability is something to look at.

  7. Ability to mute some or all conference participants.
    Having to listen to noisy backgrounds can make it difficult for conference participants. Conferences can be subject to: heavy breathers, colleagues speaking loudly in the same room, and my personal favorite is when someone hits a hold button and forgets they have music on hold. While the participants might not hear the noise themselves, everyone else on the call can hear it! Being able to mute individuals, or mute everyone on the call, makes it a better experience for everyone. It also helps if participants can mute and un-mute themselves individually.

  8. SIP and TDM Integration types. How do you want to connect to the conference bridge? There are several ways to connect to an in-house Audio Conference Bridge.  It can be connected to your phone system or PBX via, analog POTS lines, T1, PRI or SIP trunking. A conferencing system can be co-located at a telephone carriers central office to take advantage of no loop charges and wholesale per minute rates. Some systems will only provide analog integration while others provide T1. Since many new phone systems being sold are IP enabled the ability for a system to have both T1/PRI and SIP integration can be important. Look for manufactures that can provide all 3 integration types

  9. Web Conferencing.
    Web conferencing like audio conferencing is becoming more popular but hosted web conferencing can be expensive. Look for an audio conference system that offers web conferencing as an option. When asking about web conferencing it’s best to get a demonstration. Return on investment for web conferencing can be even faster then audio conferencing. Ask about white boarding, on line chatting, polling and if it is possible to switch presenters during a webinar.

Ongoing Support and Upgrades.
Finally, ask about ongoing support and upgrades. How much and what is included in a support plan. Ask if upgrades included in a support plan. Upgrades usually include the latest features. Make sure your support plan includes those upgrades.

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