What is Dial-in Audio Conferencing?


Ever
been on the road and wanted to dial into a Conference from your regular
phone? We’ve got something new to help you in Office Communications
Server (OCS) 2007 R2. In previous releases, if a user wanted to join a
scheduled OCS conference from their regular phone (cell phone, home
phone, etc.), the only way they can get into the conference is to have a
Leader/Presenter dial-out to the public switched telephone network
(PSTN) user. If there are more than a few users trying to get into the
conference using their phone, the Leader/Presenter has to dial-out to
each individual user!  No more,
in R2 we have a new dial-in capability that allows users to dial a
Conference access number, enter their conference information, and be
automatically transferred to the conference.

Dial-in audio conferencing is what we call it. And it’s been fully integrated into OCS. Here are the details:

Scheduling Meetings

No
need to cut and paste the “Dial-in Conference information” manually in
the email invitation. We have an integrated experience with Outlook, our
Microsoft Outlook Conferencing Add-in provides a one-click scheduling
experience.

Reservation-less meeting

Reservation-less
meeting, also known as “My Meeting”, is a unique Conference ID issued
to each Enterprise/Corporate user. Outlook add-in allows users to easily
schedule the meeting using “My Meeting” information by simply clicking
the scheduling button. You can even easily reset your own Conference ID
using the dial-in conferencing information page, no administration
required!

Tips:
If you have a back-to-back meeting and do not want any unwanted
participants to the conference. You can schedule a meeting using a new
“Conference ID” as shown below.

By default “My Meeting” is used for all scheduled OC Conference Call.

Access number supports multiple languages 

Global
communications is part of the daily business routine. One of the
conveniences with our dial-in audio conferencing is to have one
conference access number associated with different languages. Supporting
multi-lingual regions, as well as say when you are on an international
business trip that you need to attend a conference in your home country.
Rather than dialing into an international phone number back to your
home country, if there is a local access number supporting your spoken
language you can instead dial this phone number. After choosing your
language, all subsequent prompts are spoken to you in the chosen
language.

Administrators
can also assign multiple conference access numbers within the region.
But rather than cluttering up the email invitation with all of these
phone numbers, we provide a Dial-in conference information page hosted
by the Communicator Web Access (CWA) server that lists all of the phone
numbers associated with the region. This same page will also display “My
Meeting” information. There is more than one way to get to this
information page:

From the Outlook “Conferencing” Tab:

 

From the OC:

 

From the email invitation:

 

From the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Attendant:

 

Or simply by typing in the web page address in your Internet Browser:

 

 Music on Hold 

Users
dialing in using their PSTN phones will listen to music if the
leader/presenter of that conference has not arrived yet. Note:
Authenticated users (described below) are transferred directly to the
conference without music on hold.

Entry/Exit Tone 

When
any user joins or exits the conference, a distinct tone is played to
alert PSTN participants only. But why only to PSTN participants? Well,
if you join from other UC clients, you have a much richer experience as
the roster displays who is joining/exiting the conference. PSTN users on
the other hand, have audio as the only indicator of these events.

Mute/Un-mute Announcements 

Similar
to entry/exit tones, the notification of being muted or un-muted is
also played to PSTN participants only. But what’s cool is that it is in
their preferred language! For example, John schedules a meeting with
Mary located in Quebec, Canada, and her preferred spoken language is
French. Mary dials into the local access number that has French language
support. John decides to mute Mary due to some background noise, and
Mary hears ‘You have been muted” in French instead of English!

Dial-in using different devices

I
have an Office Communicator Phone Edition at my desk, and when I want
to join a conference, I can still dial the Conference access number. And
the best thing is that after you enter the correct Conference ID
information, the system recognizes your user identity as you’re already
logged in to the Office Phone Edition itself. There is no need to enter
any further information and you are joined automatically with your user
identity as well as the conference role (e.g. Leader) in the conference.

In-Meeting Experience with Office Communicator

Participants
using Office Communicator see a list of conference attendees using
their roster, along with icons indicating their presence status and
whether each attendee has voice capability. The leader is listed in
bold, with “Leader” after his or her name. Anonymous attendees, who
joined by entering the conference ID number on their telephones’ number
pads are listed as “Unidentified Participant” if their Caller-ID is
blocked.  If an anonymous
attendee is calling from a telephone with Caller ID, an icon appears
next to his or her listing in Office Communicator.

 

If you have Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Attendant installed, the roster will be shown as below:

 

Please note:  In
the email invitation, when you select “Join the conference using
Microsoft Office Communicator”, the Attendant console will be used
instead of Office Communicator if it is installed.

You
may ask, what is so different between what we have today compared with
other bridge providers, I attend conference calls every day. Here are
join flow experience comparisons:

Traditional Audio Bridge Provider flow: 

OCS Join flow:

The
major difference between traditional bridge providers and the OCS is
the Leader/Authenticated caller joins. Leader code in traditional
bridges is used to identify the Leader in the conference, but it doesn’t
identify the actual person. The Leader code can be passed around and
used by anyone. Whoever gets hold of the Leader code can join as the
leader in the conference. What is so different from the OCS perspective
is that each Enterprise/Corporate User within the company can join as an
Authenticated caller providing they input their own authentication
information (like the username/password combo). The setting up of the
PIN is no muss or fuss, there is no Admin interaction, and users can do
it via the Dial-in Conference information page to set up/reset their own
PIN. This authentication allows users to be shown by name in the
conference roster along with their role. If the user has predefined to
be a leader in the conference, he/she will appear as a Leader in the
conference. This is very useful as now we have a way to identify PSTN
users in the roster by name!

 

It’s that simple. Dial, enter and join anywhere with any device. Power of Unified Communications, go and give it a dial!

 

Brenda Bell
Sr. Program Manager

Published Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:15 PM
by
octeam


Comments (4)

  1. Chris K says:

    We've been using Communique Conferencing for Lync audio conferencing http://www.communiqueconferencing.com/microsoft-lync-audio-conferencing.asp.  The service works fantastic.  They even have global toll free numbers.

  2. Packeer says:

    Very good article explains the user experience and technical depth of dial in conferencing

  3. Michael Clark says:

    Very good information. We have been using on premise RHUB web conferencing appliances http://www.rhubcom.com for conducting web conferences, online meetings, online presentations etc. It offers Outlook and audio conferencing integration, wherein, when you send out invitation emails via Outlook for scheduled meetings, the system will automatically mark your calendar and have an option for your attendees to mark their calendars. The system also allows you to specify the audio conference call numbers and access code. 

  4. OCSLover says:

    Dear Brenda, Very Good information. I am facing an issue with only one of the dial-in number. the issue is whenever a user selects only local region consider France here under Audio Options in scheduling window he gets error message" Error "cannot connect
    to server because the information in the user accounts dialog might be incorrect or improperly formatted"..For all other remaining regions it is working fine..Please let me know what went wrong. i have checked on server servicing the number has no issues…