Teleconferencing, video- and web-conferencing have changed the way businesses communicate and collaborate.
The technology has driven efficiencies, reduced considerable costs and more recently these services have become notable as eco-friendly alternatives to traditional travel that has supported face-to-face business interaction.
This increasing sophistication allows for an increase in user participation and hence allows for much greater productivity between geographically diverse workforces.
While voice still remains the most effective and popular channel for engagement, a vast majority of participants reported using more video conferencing than ever before, particularly in the past year.
However, despite its popularity, teleconferencing still presents a number of frustrating problems that can cause users to experience call issues. Teleconferencing can only work flawlessly when it’s properly supported on both an infrastructure and a user level.
Conferencing interaction differs from face-to-face interaction. Meeting organizers must carefully maintain their attendees’ attention and focus, ensuring that some do not become distracted by multitasking.
The most efficient conference, in general, is one in which all participants are connected from different locations. The remote participants are likely to be disadvantaged if one or a few are “conferenced in” to a physical meeting room full of participants.
While service providers will specify that their telecoms partners provide inbound toll and toll-free numbers without concurrent user limitations, configuration issues have been known to impose limits. Where individual phone numbers do not have a restriction, network capacity constraints can also hinder access to the conference.
Problems on the Call
Face-to-face interaction differs from conferencing interaction. Attendees’ attention and focus must be carefully maintained by meeting organizers, who must ensure that some are not distracted by multitasking.
In general, the most effective conference is one in which all participants are connected from various locations. If one or a few remote participants are “conferenced in” to a physical meeting room full of people, the remote participants are likely to be disadvantaged.
The main concern after participants have successfully connected is audio quality. A meeting’s goal is to facilitate communication, which necessitates a clear audio channel to facilitate conversation.
Many factors can affect audio quality, and the number of influencing factors is increasing as more technologies support user connections via PSTN, VoIP, GSM, SIP, and other methods. Below are a number of issues that can interfere with conversations and prevent some users from participating:
Some conference suppliers purposefully pause sound between voice and transmit silence automatically for a few seconds. This helps to avoid feedback and other issues with noise.
However, sometimes failures in audio software can cause further pause, otherwise known as ‘delays’. This contributes to lengthy delays between the speech of one person and the reaction of another.
For companies, this is difficult because individuals can sometimes see audio pauses as evidence of incompetence, rather than understanding the irritating ‘talk over’ problem. Too much strain on the network resources at a local level will cause the calls to delay longer, causing the conferences to halt to a standstill.
Echo and audio feedback are two of the most common, and most irritating problems which you can face in a call. Echo can be caused by two or more call participants being located in the same room, but on individual equipment, with the audio cross-contaminating microphone inputs.
It can also be caused by network issues, cabling, equipment configurations, or even a single user’s own speaker feeding back into his/her microphone.
Similarly to echo, feedback can occur because some audio conference services can not immediately block devices that cause audio problems.
It should also be checked that each caller connecting to a meeting through a laptop computer uses headsets and that their inner speakers and microphones are disabled, otherwise noise can be recycled back into the inner microphone from the speakers.
Jitter & Packet Loss
Jumbled-up, mixed messaging calls can be extremely frustrating. In the case of conference calls, multiple participants with jitter may have a compounding effect, making a productive meeting impossible.
When problems occur we often tend to ‘drop the call’ and quickly try to reconnect, hoping for a clearer connection. Packet loss is another issue that could easily become a frustrating experience, with the danger of a loss of revenue if left unresolved.
Packet loss occurs when one or more packets of data traveling across a computer network fail to reach their destination. This can be caused by errors in data transmission, usually across wireless networks, or due to network congestion.