Teleconferencing software is a computer program used to allow multiple people in different locations to hear and speak to each other using a telecommunications system. This type of software typically is used in international business but can also be found in organizations with branch offices located in different parts of a country. There are three types of teleconferencing software: audio, video and multimedia.
The primary purpose of teleconferencing software is to remove the communication barriers created by physical distance. Multiple people in different locations can all participate in the same call. The software is very cost effective for large organizations and saves valuable time while improving communication.
Audio-only teleconferencing is the most common. If using an internal software program, all call participants access the software by dialing an internal number. The program manages all the different users and ensures connection to the right conference through the use of a call identification number. When using a service provider, call participants typically dial a 1-800 number and enter a conference ID number to join the call. The primary difference is in the costs.
Video teleconferencing has all the same features as audio-only teleconferencing, but it adds a visual component. This method is used in situations where it is advantageous to see the other participants. Everyone must have a web camera or similar device to act as the video source. The participants typically can modify the screen to view everyone simultaneously or just the person who is speaking.
Multimedia teleconferencing software adds computer software functionality to the experience. Call participants can access a specific Internet Protocol (IP) address and allow the other participants to see exactly what is on the computer screen in real time. This is an excellent tool for showing software features, sharing information or demonstrating a particular function.
There are two ways to manage teleconference software: internally or through a service provider. Very large companies with a network of branch offices might find it is more cost-effective to implement and support teleconference software internally. Many of these companies already have invested in a telecommunications software package to manage all of their telephone and fax lines. In many cases, teleconferencing is an additional module of the same software.
An external service provider offers access to teleconferencing software through either an annual contract or a per-usage fee. The list of features provided typically includes everything from a basic telephone-only call to Internet-based teleconferencing for a large number of people. The cost for this service usually is tied to the number of concurrent participants, and this represents resource utilization.