The technology behind conference calls – how a conference call bridge works

Call conferencing is here to stay and has provided the corporate world with the most cost effective tool to cut down on travel costs and make decisions based on maximum information sharing. Advanced conference call services like web conferencing have made teleconferencing more preferable at times than face to face meetings.

A conference call is like a telephone call, except that multiple people can be connected  simultaneously. All the participants dial into a conference bridge to get connected to the teleconference. A conference bridge is a combination of hardware and software and is capable of connecting multiple phone lines simultaneously. The bridge can even accommodate a number of teleconferences to be held at the same time. It is the bridge that also enables the host to mute some or all the participants when he needs to talk about something without being interrupted.

Circuit switching is the traditional teleconferencing tool where calls are routed to the conference bridge through a number of interconnected switches. Modern teleconferencing services use packet switching. Here small packets of data travel across the internet from one computer to another. The participants of a teleconference can connect independently to the bridge with the help of a login code and a personal identification number. This provides greater security that the earlier and more traditional options.

A conference bridge once connected to various phone lines and internet can add a new dimension to regular phone conferencing, apart from the basic feature of connecting multiple callers to a single telephone call. People from various locations can interact with each other just like in a face to face meeting if they have a computer, a web camera, headsets, a phone line, internet connection and a proper conferencing service. A web based software needs to be downloaded onto individual computers and then the participants can connect to a virtual boardroom.

Modern conferencing solutions allow data transmission via internet to the participants resulting in better coordination. Small businesses are more benefited by telephone conferencing as it enhances employee productivity. They are able to handle more work as the time spent in commuting to and from conference venues is saved. Modern high end conference bridges can handle more than one thousand audio and video streams with good sound and picture quality. This makes teleconferencing very effective as people can be heard and understood just the way it is in personal meetings, but without the hassle of all participants travelling to a single location.

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