Expanded International Conference Call Plan

Can a participant join your conference call from their country?  

If you host a diverse conference call with guests in remote countries, network access numbers might not exist.  But this shouldn’t stop your call.

Expanded Global Conference Calls

The Expanded Plan includes in-country toll-free access in over 100 countries plus local access numbers in 50 worldwide cities.

In addition to convenient dial-in access methods enabling an attendee to login with either a local or toll-free number from inside their country, the Expanded Plan also gives the chairperson dial-out capability.

How does the dial-out option help you add inaccessible attendees to your call?

In a nutshell, the dial-out feature enables the leader to call out to any phone number globally without disturbing the meeting in progress.  This means the leader of the call can add a participant on demand in any country.

The attendee simply answers the inbound call to their phone and is immediately added to the call.

For instance, recently a customer based in New York had a project in progress in Ghana.  There is simply no easy way for the Ghana attendees to access the call.  So, the chairperson uses the Expanded Plan with the easy dial-out feature to add the Ghana guests to their weekly calls.  The other attendees located in the US and Kenya access the call using the supplied toll-free numbers.

In addition to the dial-out feature, the Expanded Plan also offers a free App that enables connecting to the conference room using any web enabled device such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry or a PC and MAC desktop.  The Connect App makes dialing in using traditional toll-free or local numbers unnecessary as long as the attendee has a WiFi connection.

Be careful with the company you choose

Some companies offer local international access numbers that you can give out to your global call participants but they may not work.

Bad, non working access numbers are obviously something you want to avoid especially on an important business conference call with a potential client, existing customer or with a regular team meeting call.  Some of the problematic services with non-working overseas access numbers are touted as cost free.  The saying is still true, you get what you pay for.

The Expanded Plan is an all inclusive, high powered, intercontinental business collaboration tool with global access numbers guaranteed to be operational 24/7.

In addition to the many methods of accessing your call, the chairperson can always reach a 24 hour U.S. based operator who will connect anyone, or fix anything required.

Learn more about the Expanded Plan here

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Host International Conference Calls

How to Host International Conference CallsTasked with hosting an international conference call? It’s not as easy to host international conference calls as it is to do so domestically for several reasons. First, you have time zone and language differences to contend with. Second, different countries have different dialing conventions and international calling costs. And third,  if you’re trying to do it with your office conference phone, it may not be able to handle a large volume of conference call participants.

Here’s how to host international conference calls with ease:

In addition to the normal method of accessing a conference via a phone, one very convenient free optional feature customers enjoy is to use the Connect App.  Essentially this is another option to access a conference call using a web enabled device.

The Connect App work from smartphones and PC’s or Mac desktops.

Connect tools let users quickly schedule, start/join and manage their audio conferences and Web Meetings.

These tools provide an option to have the bridge call the user instead of having to dial an access number, enter a passcode or chairperson PIN, saving time joining a call and avoiding incorrectly entered numbers for the Toll Free, access code or PIN.

These Connect tools also provide the same functionality to participants when the meeting is scheduled using the free Calendar Tool.   If you are also using Web Meeting, meetings can easily be started or joined from the same invitation/link.

1. Use a world time zone map or calculator to determine the best time for the majority of your call’s participants. It’s not always possible for all participants to attend your live call during local business hours. However, you may be able to find a time that works well for most attendees.

2. Choose a conference call service provider that specializes in helping businesses host international conference calls. Ideally, the provider you choose will support all of the countries involved as well as offer affordable rates. Keep in mind that some countries have higher international calling costs than others. To contain these costs, consider using the service provider’s “dial out” feature. By dialing participants directly, you will get a much lower per minute rate. Dial out can usually be pre-programmed so that those calls will be placed automatically by the conference calling system.

3. Choose local or toll free numbers for your participants’ countries. One of the biggest challenges you will encounter when you host international conference calls involves providing access to the conference room. This is because each county has its own unique calling conventions. A toll free number in the United States, for example, doesn’t work in Italy. The trick is to provide callers with either local or toll free numbers that work in their respective countries. These numbers will then connect to the global conference call.

4. Record the call. When you host international conference calls, there’s usually an option to record the call. By all means, do so. You never know when you might want to listen to it again or share it with others. For example, you may want to use the recording for training purposes or have the call transcribed and translated. Participants who were unable to attend the call in real time could listen to the call after the fact. Recordings are also helpful for those who speak a different language as a first language. By providing a recording of the call, they can go back and listen to sections that they had a hard time keeping up with originally.

When you host international conference calls, many challenges can be overcome by choosing a global conference call service provider that specializes in overseas teleconferencing. Choose wisely and your international conference calls are sure to be successful.

Learn more about hosting international conference calls here

View details about Conference Calling here

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USA Canada Conference Call and the Cannabis Business

Cannabis Business Hosts Conference CallsUSA Canada Conference Call Cannabis Business

USA Canada Conference Call is an excellent way to exchange knowledge, build relationships, and close deals. For cross-border conferencing, providing local access to all parties, whether in USA or Canada is a professional courtesy that is sure to be appreciated. Our US Canada conference call plan simplifies the process of connecting with others in the Cannabis industry in the United States or Canada.

Recreational cannabis is now legal across all of Canada and several states in the US have legalized medicinal and/or recreational use. As businesses grow and establish themselves in this new market, they frequently need to converse with others in their industry.

USA Canada Conference Call Local or Toll-Free Access

Let’s say you’re a distributor in Ottawa and you need to discuss website development with a vendor in Denver, Colorado and a graphic designer in Los Angeles in a conference call. With our USA – Canada conferencing plan, each person would be able to join using either local or toll-free access numbers. For example, you’d dial a 343 number in Ottawa, your web developer would dial a 720 number in Denver, and your graphic designer would dial a 213 number in Los Angeles.

By granting everyone local access, distances shrink. Everyone feels as though they’re calling a local company. This is a subtle benefit of cross-border conference calling. From an account holder’s perspective, conference calling using local access numbers is a little cheaper than using toll-free numbers.  How it works.

That said, the difference is minimal with our affordable pay-as-you-go USA Canada conference call service. Our toll-free access rates are just 2.9 cents per minute for US callers and 3.9 cents per minute for Canadian callers. The advantages of using toll-free numbers for access to your call include simplicity and cost certainty.

For example, Los Angeles is huge with multiple area codes; even within the same area code, local calls may trigger toll charges to the participant. The option to use a toll-free number ensures the participant will not get hit with unexpected toll charges.

Conference Calls on Demand

Like many industries, the cannabis industry is subject to a host of regulations, which vary from country to country, province to province, and state to state. Conference calls provide you with an effective means of communicating with your lawyers, regulators, industry experts, and others involved in ensuring compliance — and you can hold these calls on demand. Our US – Canada conferencing plan does not require reservations, which means you can initiate and hold a conference call at a moment’s notice.

You can also add attendees to a conference call in progress. For example, if your website developer suggests adding a disclaimer to your website and the person who knows the specific wording is not on the call, you could use the dial-out feature to call and add that person to the conference as soon as the issue comes up.

Why Choose a USA Canada Conference Call Plan?

If you do business across the border or frequently interact with contacts on the other side, domestic conference calling plans fall short. They’re not intended for calls outside your country. As a business that collaborates with partners in both Canada and USA, our conferencing calling plan allows you to connect as if you were in the same country — without barriers. We’ve loaded it with all of the features you’d expect and more.

Since it’s a pay-as-you-go service without contracts or monthly fees, you can sign up, use it as needed, and cancel at any time. There are no penalties for inactivity. You are billed only for the time you use in USA Canada conference call. Sign up for an account today and start collaborating across borders.

Learn more about USA Canada Conference Call

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Virtual Follow Me Number | Setting One Up

Virtual Follow Me Number Set Up

Setting Up a Virtual Follow Me Number

Virtual follow me number will provide you with the ultimate in portability because the virtual number is not permanently attached to any phone. In a typical day, you might use multiple phones including your home phone, office phone, and mobile phone. If you travel frequently or work out of different offices, the number of phones you use on a regular basis increases.

While you can easily call out, your contacts might not know which number is best to reach you on. Giving out your mobile phone number is one option, but it’s not always desirable, especially if you want to maintain a nice line of separation between work and personal calls.

Our virtual phone numbers offer several ways for you to manage your incoming calls:

  • Manual call forwarding changes
  • Simultaneous ringing
  • Sequential ringing

Let’s take a look at how each option works and when you might want to use them.

Manual Call Forwarding

With manual call forwarding, you log into your account and manually change the virtual phone number’s ring-to number. This option is best when you want flexibility but tend to use the same phone most of the time.

For example, if you’re using the virtual phone number as your business phone number and usually work out of your main office, you’ll likely set it up so that it rings to your main office by default. However, if you occasionally work from your home office, this feature gives you the ability to quickly change your ring-to number to your phone at home.

Simultaneous Ringing

Simultaneous ringing requires that you set up your virtual phone number with two or more ring-to numbers. When an incoming call comes in, all of the ring-to numbers will ring simultaneously. This is useful in a team setting where several team members are expected to promptly answer incoming phone calls.

It’s also helpful if you’re frequently on the move and want the ability to answer your incoming calls on the phone of your choice. For example, if you’re in your office and both your office and mobile phones ring simultaneously, you can choose to answer on the phone that makes the most sense for that moment.

Sequential Ringing

Sequential ringing requires setting up the virtual phone number with two or more ring-to numbers just as simultaneous ring did. However, in this case, the incoming calls will ring the ring-to numbers in the order you specify. For example, you might set it up so that your office phone rings first, your mobile phone next, and your home phone last.

This is helpful in ensuring that you can be found at the most likely phone numbers no matter where you are. You’ll want to limit the number of ring-to numbers to just a handful as your callers may not stay on the line long enough for the system to ring through the entire sequence.

Each of these options works internationally, too. So, if you’re heading on a trip, you could set up whichever virtual hunt group makes the most sense for your travels. This is especially helpful because your callers will simply dial the same phone number they always dial, yet they’ll reach you wherever in the world you may happen to be.

Setting up your virtual follow me number. It’s also helpful if you’re frequently on the move and want the ability to answer your incoming calls on the phone of your choice.so that it finds you is easy, and you can adjust your settings as needed. We have a virtual follow me number for countries around the globe, all offered with no contract.

Learn more about a Follow Me Virtual Number now.

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Audio Video Web Conference How to Choose Between Them

Audio Video Web ConferenceAudio Video Web Conference Choosing between them

Conference calling has evolved into three distinct formats, Audio Video Web Conference. Many companies use all three types of communications methods, choosing the most appropriate type for the task at hand between Audio Video Web Conference.

The best type of conference call is often subjective. However, the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of conferencing listed below can provide you with some insight.

Audio Conference Call Advantages and Disadvantages

Ease of use. Due to the long history of audio conferencing, this method is well understood and familiar to most business professionals. Generally speaking, joining an audio conference is a simple matter of dialing a phone number and entering a passcode. Thus, one of the biggest advantages of audio conferencing is its simplicity.

Accessibility. Everyone has a phone. Not only is there no special equipment needed, but you can also use any type of phone, including mobile phones and VoIP phones to join — and from virtually anywhere in the world.

Cost. Audio conferencing is extremely affordable — even for international attendees. Our international conference calling plans feature rates as low as just a few pennies per minute.

Line noise. Great quality connections are certainly an advantage. However, background noise is always a concern. Fortunately, participants can self-mute their lines while moderators can mute individual lines as needed.

Group audio calls are a great choice when you need to quickly and easily communicate with a geographically diverse group in real time. Example use cases include meetings, trainings, crisis communications, public relations, coaching calls, and business collaboration.

Audio conferencing adds voice and tone to the conversation, giving it an advantage over email and text-based communications. However, you won’t be able to see facial expressions or body language. If those are important, consider video conferencing.

Video Conference Call Advantages and Disadvantages

Most modern computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are video conferencing ready, which, coupled with our browser-based video conferencing plan, makes video conferencing much more accessible than in the past.

The advantages are similar to audio conferencing, but with the ability to see one other. This can strengthen relationships as other participants are now perceived as real people and not just disembodied voices.

Some people, however, may be uncomfortable appearing on camera. Their environments may also become a distraction or appear unprofessional, making it important for attendees to consider what the camera may be revealing.

A potential disadvantage is ensuring access. Some video conferencing plans require participants to download and install software where others, like our Video Pro desktop video conferencing plan, work in a standard web browser.

Video conferencing is a great choice for one-on-one and small group collaboration, job interviews, motivational talks, and presentations featuring a few key speakers who appear on camera.

Web Conferencing Advantages and Disadvantages

Web conferences often include audio and/or video conferencing elements. For example, participants will view the web conference in a web browser but may use a separate phone line for the audio portion. Likewise, webcams may be enabled in a web conference.

One of the advantages of web conferencing over the other two methods is its tendency to be more interactive. For instance, you can share screens, launch applications (like PowerPoint or a video player), chat in a text-based chat, or share files.

Web conferencing is a great choice when you need to share media and files with your participants. Example use cases include sales presentations, bids and proposals, team meetings, coaching and consulting, and new employee/client onboarding.

Audio Video Web Conference – Our affordable, month-to-month conferencing plans make it easy to choose the right type of conference for any given purpose. There are no long-term commitments or contract on any of them, making it possible to choose the right plan, at the right time.

Learn more about Web & Video Conferencing

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International Conferencing Technologies for Healthcare Providers

International Conferencing Technologies

International Conferencing Technologies for Healthcare ProfessionalsHealthcare providers juggle patient care with business administration, practice management, continuing education, professional development, volunteer work, and other endeavors — both locally and internationally.

It’s a challenging profession requiring years of education and training along with extensive collaboration, communication, time management, and money management skills. Various technologies and tools aid in all of the above. Here’s how healthcare providers can leverage international conferencing technologies throughout their careers.

Consult with an International Team of Specialists

Whether you’re preparing to perform a rare procedure, such as a face transplant, or seek advice from leaders in your field, the specialists on your team may be located around the globe. International conference calls allow all of your colleagues and specialists to communicate in group audio calls no matter where in the world they are.

With International Conferencing Technologies, each participant dials into the call using a local or toll-free access number specific to their country.

For example, your colleagues in San Antonio, Texas would dial a local San Antonio number while a cardiologist from Barcelona, Spain would dial a number local to Barcelona. Thus, the barriers to joining a global call are virtually non-existent.

Coordinate Patient Care

If a patient falls ill or becomes injured while traveling overseas, they may require emergency care while abroad or medical transport back home.

Having a global conferencing plan in place makes it much easier to communicate with international healthcare providers, airlines, embassies, and others who may be involved with the case.

Cross-Border Volunteering and Mentoring via International Conferencing Technologies

Many healthcare providers are passionate about giving back to their communities, often through volunteering or mentoring others — or both.

If your volunteer work takes you across borders, group audio calls can be used before, during, and after your trips.

Before — Use international conference calls to plan your trip, coordinate shipments of medical supplies, discuss needs, objectives, and goals, and more.

During — You’ll likely need to stay in touch with your colleagues back home or consult with international specialists while on assignment. Your global conferencing plan works anywhere in the world, so you can continue initiating global calls no matter where you may be working.

After — Your physical presence may last a week or two, but chances are, the project will continue. Though back at home, you can follow-up with your colleagues and patients remotely using global conference calls.

Host Your Own Audio Conferences

Are you the expert? Imagine sharing your expertise, or the expertise of your facility’s team members, with others via audio conferences.

These can range from intimate gatherings with a handful of global participants who want to exchange knowledge or brainstorm solutions with their peers to global “event” calls with thousands of healthcare professionals gathered to listen to keynote speakers.

Whether you have a short-term or ongoing need for global conferencing, we can help. Our plans feature exceptional audio quality, low global rates, and a huge list of conferencing features — all without a contract or monthly fees.

Learn more about International Conferencing

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Global Conferencing Obstacles | How to Overcome Them

Global Conferencing ObstaclesGlobal Conferencing Obstacles

From dispersed virtual teams to international business deals, global conference calls bring people from around the world together in an audio conference.

The technology powering modern international conference bridges is incredible with sound quality that defies geography. However, you may encounter a few obstacles, most of which have nothing to do with technology. Below are some of the more common obstacles and tips for global conferencing obstacles and overcoming them.

Access — If you’re using one of our global conferencing plans, international access is rarely a problem since we have a long list of country-specific access numbers. For participants located in a country without a local or toll-free number, you can either have one of our live operators make the connection for you or use our handy moderator dial-out function to dial and join those individuals directly. This process can also be automated if desired.

Timing — Global conference calls typically involve participants scattered across time zones, making the timing of your teleconferences challenging. TimeAndDate.com has a meeting time planner tool that makes it easy to find compatible times between the cities of your choice. It’s even color-coded to show you the most optimal and least desirable times at a glance. For example, we plugged in Los Angeles, Beijing, and Abu Dhabi and quickly found that 3:00 UTC time translates into 8:00 pm in LA, 11:00 am in Beijing, and 7:00 am in Abu Dhabi. In this example, no one needs to set their alarm clock for a middle-of-the-night conference call despite the vast differences in location.

Short Attention Spans — Attention spans are said to be shrinking in the digital age. In addition, a series of shorter sessions are generally more advantageous for learning and retention compared to one much longer session. While it’s tempting to try to cover as much as possible once you’ve gathered your global team into a conference call, it may be more effective to hold shorter, more focused conference calls more frequently.

Lack of Visual Cues — International audio conferences have an advantage over email and texting in that everyone can hear one another’s voices and tone as well as form more personal connections. While picking up on a speaker’s tone of voice is helpful, visual cues remain lacking. For those who may be listening to a second language or those who are hard of hearing, visual cues can help them better understand the context. Slowing down your speech and enunciated your words can help in these situations. Consider holding the occasional web conference alongside your international conference call. Not only can your attendees see you and others, but you can also share prepared presentations, videos, files, notes, and more.

Lack of Purpose and Direction — Have you ever left a conference call feeling like it was a waste of time or wondering what to do next? It’s common but largely avoidable. Make sure your next global conference call has a clearly defined purpose, stays on track, includes only people to whom the topics are relevant, and ends with clear action steps. Follow up with an email summarizing the call and highlight the next steps. Consider sharing an MP3 recording of the call if you think that would be helpful.

We want your next global conference call to be successful. It all starts by choosing a high quality global conferencing plan that helps overcome global conferencing obstacles.  Get started now.

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Telecom Pioneer, From Undertaker to Telecom Pioneer Strowger’s Switch

[[:en:User:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]] at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia CommonsOrigins of Telecommunications: From Undertaker to Telecom Pioneer, Strowger’s Switch

Imagine a telephone system where callers have to first interact with a third party in order to speak with your business.

In theory, that third party has the power to either connect the caller to your company or not. For much of the history of telephone service, a third party did indeed have to connect callers to their intended recipient. The interactions were brief and to the point, handled by telephone operators who connected calls manually by moving cables to the appropriate line on a switchboard.

Operators were used from the 1880s through the 1940s until sophisticated automatic switching systems were developed that made their jobs obsolete.

However, back in the late 1880s, a Kansas City undertaker, Almon Strowger, reportedly believed that a crooked telephone operator (who was the wife of a competitor) had steered his funeral customers to her husband, an undertaker, prompting him to invent the first automatic dialing system. His system, known as the Strowger Switch, was intended to cut the middleman, or in the case of telephone operators who were predominantly female, woman, out of the conversation.

According to Telecom Pioneer Strowger’s patent application, the invention would “…provide means whereby a person at one station may make a connection with any other station in the system, by the aid of electrical appliances, without the assistance of an operator at the central station.”

His invention used push buttons to generate pulses that could move electromagnetic contacts to select a phone number directly without operator assistance.

While pushbutton phones today are practical and easy to use to dial a number, Strowger’s device was impractical. For example, if one of the digits of the phone number happened to be a 9, you’d have to push the button nine times! Strowger’s patent application provides an example, dialing telephone number 315, that illustrates the complexity even further:
“…do so by pressing the key marked G three times, then the key marked 11 once, and then the key marked I five times.”
Thus, dialing a simple number, 315, would actually require pressing the following sequence of alphanumeric keys: G-G-G-11-I-I-I-I-I.

With a patent in hand, Telecom Pioneer Strowger effectively switched gears and careers, forming a company that would later be known as the Automatic Electric Company.

Over the years, the switch evolved, becoming commercially viable thanks in large part to the company’s invention of the rotary phone under the technical leadership of Alexander E. Keith.

Further advancements in automatic switching were made by Automatic Electric Company, AT&T, Bell Labs, and other inventors in the decades that followed, which ultimately resulted in eliminating telephone operators.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Sources:

“Electromechanical Telephone-Switching – Engineering and Technology History Wiki.” n.d. Accessed January 4, 2018. http://ethw.org/Electromechanical_Telephone-Switching.

“Google Patents.” n.d. Accessed January 4, 2018. https://patents.google.com/patent/US447918A/en.

“Telephone Operators – Engineering and Technology History Wiki.” n.d. Accessed January 4, 2018. http://ethw.org/Telephone_Operators.

“Timeline of Telecommunications.” n.d. Accessed January 4, 2018. http://www.telephonetribute.com/timeline.html.

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Conference Call Security and Serious Safety Concerns

How to Improve Conference Call SecurityConference Call Security and How To Improve It

While businesses have invested in network security to keep their data safe from hackers and other threats, how much thought have you given to conference call security?

A few years ago, Research Now conducted a survey that revealed a serious security concern surrounding conference calls.

A whopping 99 percent of respondents had admitted that they had hosted conference calls where they weren’t sure about who was on the call.

Meanwhile 93 percent had said that they have shared confidential information on a call.

It’s hard to imagine anyone joining a conference call uninvited, but it can happen. For example, the FBI estimates corporate espionage costs businesses tens of billions of dollars each year.

Oftentimes, outgoing employees will steal data before they leave, either uploading it to a remote server, emailing it to a personal account, or walking out with it on a USB drive.

What if those same former employees had continuous access to your trade secrets via your regular conference calls? What if a vendor you’ve used in the past could listen in to your conference calls, hear your latest business strategies, and share those with your competitors?

These scenarios could certainly play out if you never change your conference call passcodes.

With these thoughts in mind, here are a few tips to improve your conference call security:

Mind your passcodes — Change your passcodes periodically, and especially after an employee leaves or a vendor relationship ends. While passcodes are meant to be shared, be careful about sharing them publicly on websites and social media. After all, anyone can grab and use those credentials. For public conference calls, consider a registration process before revealing the call credentials. After the call, change the passcode.

Update your email distribution lists — Do you use email distribution lists when announcing your conference calls? Though handy, they could be outdated! You could be sending conference call details to previous employees, suppliers you no longer use, and others who have no business (but may be interested in) attending your conference call.

Update your group dial-out list — Automated group dial out is a convenient way to join attendees into a conference call on demand. However, you’ll want to make sure to update your list whenever someone leaves the company or business relationships have changed. This will help prevent accidentally including someone you don’t want on your conference call.

Use the roll call feature — Roll call is a feature that audibly announces each participant as they join or leave the conference. If a former employee joins the conference call, you’ll know right away!

Lock your calls — Did you know you can lock the conference call once all attendees have joined? This prevents others from joining once the call is locked.

Use the live event viewer — The live event viewer displays a list of everyone on the call, giving you a quick and easy way to verify attendance and disconnect unauthorized participants.

Review your call attendance reports — At the end of every conference call, you’ll receive an attendance report. Double check it to be sure that only authorized participants attended. If you see attendees who don’t belong, change your passcodes immediately.

Using the security tools available, you should be able to speak freely with confidence that only authorized attendees are on your next conference call.

aitelephone.com

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China Virtual Numbers Divert Calls Anywhere Globally

Beijing, ChinaHow to Use Virtual Numbers Before, During, and After Traveling to China

China Virtual Numbers, from trade excursions and business trips to bucket list vacations, study abroad opportunities, and overseas job assignments, people travel to China for any number of reasons. Whether you intend to tour potential manufacturing facilities or see the Terracotta Army, a virtual phone number for China is an asset that you can use before, during, and after your trip.

China Virtual Numbers, what are they?

With our service, you can order a phone number for China (toll-free or local) and configure it so that any calls made to it will ring to the phone of your choice.

For callers in China, the phone number appears like any other Chinese phone number they typically encounter. For example, you can order a number that’s local to Beijing or Shenzhen, a national 400 number, or a toll-free number for China.

Universal toll-free numbers are also available. Our plans are offered with no contracts, so you can use the plan as long as you need it and then cancel it when you’re done without penalty.

What’s more, you can change the ring-to number as needed, making your new virtual number the ultimate in portability. Below are a few examples of how you can use your Chinese virtual numbers before, during, and after the trip.

China virtual numbers city list is available as 9/26/2018.  Beijing (10), Guangzhou (20), Shanghai (21), Shenzhen (755), Tongchuan (919) plus China Mobile SMS, China Toll-Free, China National 400.

View current China Virtual Numbers availability here.

Before You Go

Ideally, you should order your virtual phone number before you leave for China. This will give you time to get familiar with the features as well as provide your Chinese contacts and hosts with a local number to reach you.

In fact, they can call you using the number right away, even though you’re still in your home country. Simply set your destination phone number to your home, office, or mobile phone number and begin receiving low-cost incoming calls from China. Thus, as you finalize your itinerary, you can leave a local Chinese callback number for your contacts to use.

During Your Trip

Once you arrive, you’ll need to change your ring-to number to a phone that you have access to during your stay. This could be your hotel room phone, your mobile phone (assuming it works and that roaming charges aren’t exorbitant), or a temporary burner phone purchased locally.

Many travelers purchase disposable pre-paid phones in China for this purpose. Once you activate your burner phone, change your ring-to number to your new Chinese mobile phone number.

*Tip: If you have loved ones or colleagues back home who may need to reach you during your trip, consider ordering a second virtual number, this time for your home country. For example, if they’re in the USA, they can dial a US toll-free or local number to reach you in China.

China Virtual Numbers – After Your Trip

If you’ve made new friends or business contacts or have unfinished business in China, you may want to keep your virtual phone number for use afterward. How long you keep it will depend on your specific needs.

Once you’ve wrapped up your business and no longer need the virtual number. Simply cancel it — no questions asked.  Some customers find it useful for their business to have a China phone presence for easy communication with their China-based customers or associates.

Planning a trip to China or any other country? We have virtual numbers for 150+ countries. Get China Virtual Numbers now.

China Virtual Numbers – learn more

 

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Artificial Intelligence through the Ages and the Origins of Telecom

Leibniz Stepped ReckonerOrigins of Telecom: Artificial Intelligence through the Ages

What do Alexa, Amazon’s smart personal assistant, and Hephaestus, a blacksmith found in Greek mythology, have in common? Despite nearly two millenniums separating the two, it’s artificial intelligence (AI). While we think of modern AI as being in its infancy, the concept dates back to ancient times — and it’s fascinating to discover how artificial intelligence has transformed from metal men, mechanical toys, programmable machines, and computing to self-driving cars, chatbots, big data, cloud computing, machine learning, and deep neural networks — and beyond.

So, how did we get from Greek mythology to where we are today? Let’s take a quick look at some of the milestones in the development of artificial intelligence.

AI in Ancient Greek Mythology

Hephaestus, son of Zeus, is the god of the smiths in Greek mythology. In addition to his metal-smithing skills, he brought his creations to life. His sentient machines took the form of people (such as golden talking handmaidens), animals, and everyday object that were used as servants. Another Greek legend involves Talos, a bronze man made to defend Crete from pirates and invaders.

Mechanical AI Arrives

While myths illustrate mankind’s ability to conceptualize artificial intelligence, it wasn’t until the 13th century when early intelligent mechanical devices began to appear. Examples include:

  • Programmable humanoid robot (13th century) — A boat contained four mechanical musicians who played based on water flow.
  • Gutenberg’s printing press (15th century) — Gutenberg improved on other press technologies, transforming communications as a result.
  • Clocks (15th – 16th centuries) — Clocks were originally produced using lathes to measure time. Clockmakers soon began adding mechanical animals.
  • Mechanical digital calculating machines (17th century) — Blaise Pascal invented the first mechanical digital calculating machine, which was later improved upon by Gottfried Leibniz’s Step Reckoner. Other machines for arithmetic were invented during the same general time period by Sir Samuel Morland.
  • Mechanical toys (18th century) — Mechanical toys became extremely popular during this time period. A classic example is Jacques de Vaucanson’s mechanical duck, an intricate, gold-plated, life-sized creation that could quack, stand on its legs, and even digest a grain of rice and poop it out.
  • Programmable machines (19th century) — The first programmable machine was the Jacquard Loom. The loom was controlled by punchcards containing instructions for weaving complex textile designs such as brocade and damask.
  • Electro and Sparko, a mechanical man and mechanical dog (20th century) — These two appeared at the World’s Fair in New York (1939).

AI in Books

Concepts of AI also appear in books, both fiction and non-fiction. Examples include:

  • The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (17th century) — A book describing a mechanistic and combinatorial theory of thinking.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (19th century) — The classic tale of a monster, brought to life.
  • As We May Think by Vannevar Bush (20th century) — A book describing a future where computers help humans in a variety of activities.
  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (20th century) — A collection of sci-fi stories that describe the interactions between humans and robots along with the moral conundrums associated with such relationships. This book introduced the “Three Laws of Robotics.”

AI Evolves

The term “artificial intelligence” first appeared in 1956 during a Dartmouth Conference devoted to the topic. Since then, a huge list of innovations have contributed to the development of this field. The 1990s saw huge leaps in technology as varied as machine learning, data mining, virtual reality, and more. During this time, IBM’s Deep Blue chess program beat the reigning world champion and the first autonomous robotics system successfully landed Sojourner on the surface of Mars.

Today, AI makes things smarter. For example, smart homes and offices know when you arrive and leave, reacting accordingly by turning on the lights, adjusting the temperature, locking and unlocking doors, and more. Cars can detect pedestrians and objects, automatically braking to avoid a collision.

AI in Telecommunications

You may wonder, what does AI have to do with telecommunications? The telecommunications industry is deeply involved with artificial intelligence. Not only does the industry benefit from smart technology, like real-time transcription, automatic dialing, and automatic call report generation, it’s championing its development. In fact, the theme for 2018’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was “Enabling the Positive Use of Artificial Intelligence for All.” AT&T, one of the world’s telecom pioneers, is building an open-source AI platform called Acumos as part of its “Aiming to Make AI Accessible to Everyone” project.

From the stuff of legends to the stuff of sci-fi, artificial intelligence has arrived.

aitelephone.com

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Sources

“ 17 May 2018, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD 2018).” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://www.itu.int/en/wtisd/2018/Pages/default.aspx

“A Brief History of AI.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://aitopics.org/misc/brief-history

“A History of Robotics: Myth and Legend.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://blog.salvius.org/2014/01/a-history-of-robotics-myth-and-legend.html

“Artificial Intelligence in Telecoms – Current State of Play – Hidden Insights.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://blogs.sas.com/content/hiddeninsights/2017/05/12/artificial-intelligence-in-telecoms/

“AT&T Labs Fosters Innovative Technology | AT&T Labs.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. http://about.att.com/innovation/labs

“Best Artificial Intelligence Science Fiction | BestScienceFictionBooks.Com.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. http://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/best-artificial-intelligence-science-fiction-books.php

“Hephaestus – Greek Mythology Link.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. http://www.maicar.com/GML/Hephaestus.html

“Jacquard Loom – Wikipedia.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard_loom

“Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3207/3207-h/3207-h.htm

“Printing Press – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.Com.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/printing-press

“This Month in Physics History.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201802/history.cfm

“This New AI Service Will Transcribe Conference Calls in Real-Time | Ladders.” n.d. Accessed August 9, 2018. https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/this-new-ai-service-will-transcribe-conference-calls-in-real-time-for-you

Links to Photos:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Telaio_Jacquard_1849.jpg (public domain)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vaucanson_duck1.jpg (public domain)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leibniz_Stepped_Reckoner.png (public domain)

 

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Audio Conference Engagement and How to Improve It

Audio Conference EngagementHow to Improve Audio Conferencing Engagement

Audio Conference Engagement – you probably hear a lot about it. Whether you’re designing a website or sharing information on social media, you want your message to resonate with your audience. The same is true of holding conference calls. Whether your attendees are customers, colleagues, prospects, or vendors, the more engaged they are, the better the potential outcome. With that in mind, use the tips below to improve engagement during your next audio conference call.

Set Time Limits

Audio conference calls have a reputation for being long and boring, and no one wants to waste their time or be bored. Improving audio conference engagement with each conference call you hold can help overcome this perception. Setting time limits won’t necessarily increase user engagement on its own, but it will help establish a record of shorter, more productive conference calls.

Plan Your Call as If It Were a Presentation

What information do you need to communicate to your audience? Takeaways should be clear and obvious. Any action that you want your attendees to take at the end of the call?

Your conference call should have a beginning, middle, and end. Think of it as a story with an arc that moves from the status quo to an inciting incident with trials, obstacles, and perhaps an element of surprise to a resolution.

• Beginning — Briefly describe the current status of the product. Increase buy-in by sharing what’s at stake.

• Middle — During the main portion of your call, you could create a narrative of where you want to be and the obstacles that stand in your way. Start with the easy-to-solve obstacles and add tension by increasing their complexity. Encourage your attendees to share ideas on how to overcome those obstacles and reiterate the takeaways.

• End — At the end of the conference call, describe the action plan you’ve come up with together.

Make it Interactive to Enhance Audio Conference Engagement

Many audio conference calls are passive with just one or two main speakers. Refer to your attendees’ list and make a point to call on each person, specifically asking for their input or tasking them with something. “Mary, would it be better to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest?” “Stephan, can you create an infographic?”

Add Break-out Sessions

Audio conference calls can become boring when the subject matter is no longer relevant. Spending time discussing graphic design will bore your data scientists to death. Meanwhile, a lengthy discussion on analytics and computer coding will have your marketing team tuning out. Schedule a short break-out session, again with a specific time limit, where smaller teams can discuss their unique concerns amongst themselves before returning to the main call. Your conference call will be more productive, relevant, and engaging as a result.

Setting time limits, planning your message and arc, calling on individuals directly, and using break-out sessions are a few ideas to help improve attendee engagement during conference calls.

Audio Conference Engagement

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Automate International Conference Call Dialing | How and Why

UBlast UserAutomate International Conference Call Dialing

It’s not unusual to collaborate in international conference calls with the same participants on a regular basis. While it’s easy enough for everyone to join your global calls at the appointed time, some may forget. Likewise, if a crisis comes up, you may want to hold a global conference call on demand. Whether you’re part of a small virtual team or a large organization, using an automated dialing system to bring everyone together into the call is a convenient option.

Our international conferencing plans include a unique feature that lets you do just that. It’s called UBlast, and it’s a free feature of our Legacy plan (though you must activate the feature). Here’s what you need to know.

Activate the free UBlast feature. Call our customer service center and we’ll be happy to arrange Automate International Conference Call Dialing up for you.  View details about UBlast here.

Set up your dial-out list. In order to dial your contacts, the system needs to know their names and their phone numbers. You can enter up to 50 contacts and numbers to your dial-out list. Your list can contain both domestic and international contact numbers. Thus, if you need to host an international conference call with participants in USA, Canada, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Brazil, you can quickly initiate the audio conference with your dial-out list. The system will dial and join everyone on your behalf.

Learn the commands. This feature is easy to use. You’ll first dial your access number as usual and enter your passcode. Next, enter *92. That’s it! The system will dial out to everyone in your list and join them into your international conference call.

Why Automate International Conference Call Dialing?

There’s no right or wrong way to host an international conference call. However, there are times when it’s helpful to automate the process such as:

Group collaboration calls — You’ve likely encountered your fair share of meetings and conference calls where participants arrive late or forget about the event altogether. By using the automatic dial-out feature, you can ensure that everyone’s phone rings at the appointed time. This eliminates the problem of latecomers and absentee participants.

On-demand group calls — On-demand conference calls can be challenging in that you need a way to let participants know that you are having a conference call. You could send a group email, but you’re relying on your participants to get the email right away and then take action on it by joining your call. What if they don’t check their email messages in real time?

You could call everyone and let them know you’re having a conference call in 5 minutes, but that’s time-consuming and tedious. Starting the conference and auto-dialing participants is faster and easier.

If you want another convenient dialing option for your international conference calls, contact us today to activate this unique feature.

Conference Calling Services

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Public Switched Telephone Network and the Origin of Telecom

Origins of Telecom: The Public Switched Telephone Network

A busy signal used in the North American PSTN prior to the 1980’s.

The Public Switched Telephone Network came with the invention of the telephone in 1876 came the need for infrastructure. Early phone calls took place over a physical wire connecting the two devices. While this direct connection was fine for proof of concept or for voice communications between telegraph offices, imagine the impracticalities of connecting a wire from your house to every other home or business you would need to call. Fortunately, Alexander Graham Bell had other ideas.

Bell had approached Western Union, offering to sell the rights to his PSTN invention for $100,000 — and offer they turned down. In 1877, he founded Bell Telegraph Company and opened the first telephone exchange in Connecticut that same year. Subscribers only needed to connect to one physical location, the telephone exchange. From there, operators manually connected them to the destination phone using another of Bell’s inventions, a switch.

Soon, telephone exchanges were established for other areas with “trunks” being used to connect each exchange. The trunks contained bundles of wires and formed proto-networks that expanded across the nation and ultimately around the world. As the infrastructure developed, various connection methods were used to connect geographically diverse networks including microwave relay and undersea cables.

Automated switches replaced manual ones, allowing callers to place calls without operator assistance. Copper wires eventually gave way to modern, fiber optic cables while analog switches have been replaced by digital switches. Call quality has improved dramatically while costs have fallen.

In general, when you make a phone call, you’re connected to a local exchange which then routes your call to its destination. For local calls, the call stays within the exchange. For long distance calls, your call will be routed through the Toll Office switch. For international calls, your call will be routed through the International Gateway.

Your phone number and the phone number you are calling play a role in how the calls are routed. For example, if your phone number is 1-805–333-1212, the number 333 represents your local exchange while 1212 is your subscriber number. If you were to call a neighbor at 333-1313, your call would remain in the local exchange and be connected to 1313. If you make a call outside of your area code, then your call would be routed through the Toll Office switch. If you need to make an international call, you’d first dial 011, then the country code, area code, and phone number; your call would then be routed through the International Gateway.

Though firmly established in countries like the United States, many developing countries are bypassing traditional telephone systems in favor of mobile networks. Fortunately, these networks play nicely with each other and you can easily call others regardless of the phone type they may be using.

Due to other telecommunications methods such as cellular phone service and VoIP, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is often referred to as “plain old telephone service.” It’s evolved since the dawn of the telephone and provides a robust, high-quality foundation for newer technologies such as international conference calling and global call forwarding numbers.

aitelephone.com

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Sources:

“How the Public Switched Telephone Network Works.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://www.plumvoice.com/resources/blog/how-public-switched-telephone-network-pstn-works/

“International Long Distance Calling Made Simple Tip Sheet | Federal Communications Commission.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/international-long-distance-calling-made-simple-tip-sheet

“Public Switched Telephone Network – Wikipedia.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_switched_telephone_network

“The History of The PSTN.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://tiandavis.com/thoughts/posts/the-history-of-the-pstn

“What Is a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)? – Definition from Techopedia.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/5606/public-switched-telephone-network-pstn

“When Alexander Graham Bell Filed the First Patent for the Telephone.” n.d. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/connecting-britain/alexander-graham-bell-us-patent-telephone/

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Web Conference and Your Employee Onboarding Process

How to Use Web Conferences as Part of Your Employee Onboarding Process New hires have a lot to learn about your company, its culture, its policies, and processes, which is why onboarding is such a crucial part of the relationship. What if you could help ease those first day jitters with pre-employment web conferences? By incorporating web conferencing into your onboarding process, you can do just that. Use the tips below to get started. Start by scheduling a short web conference a few days before the new hire's first day. With our web conferencing solution, your new hires can participate from home or some other remote location using a simple web browser and an Internet connection. During this conference you can: o Give your new hires a warm welcome. They've already received and accepted your formal offer of employment and may have a few questions that have popped up since the last interview. For example, now that they're getting ready to come work for you, they may want to know more about the dress code or whom they should check in with on the first day of work. o Introduce them to their immediate supervisor or a few colleagues. Arrange to have a few key people join you in the web conference or visit you in your office while you're interacting with new hires. This doesn't need to be a long conversation, but rather an informal introduction so that your new employees will more comfortable. Instead of an office full of strangers, they'll encounter the friendly faces of people they've previously met. o Share documents. There's no reason why your new hires can't start filling out tax forms or reviewing your health insurance options beforehand. Some will be anxious to get started on that, so consider sharing those documents during your web conference. o Establish a culture of communication. If web conferencing is an important part of your organizational culture, onboarding your new hires via this method is a great way to introduce them to the concept. A note of caution: It's easy to go overboard. To ensure that this initial web conference doesn't overwhelm your new hires, keep it short and focused. Ten to fifteen minutes should be more than enough time to answer questions, share a few documents, and introduce a few colleagues. While you're at it, let your new hires know that appearing on camera is optional so that they don't feel pressured to dress up in order to participate. Many businesses use web conferencing as part of the recruitment process. Keep the momentum going by adding it to your onboarding process.How to Use Web Conferences as Part of Your Employee Onboarding Process

Web Conference and how new hires can learn about your company, its culture, its policies, and processes, which is why onboarding is such a crucial part of the relationship. What if you could help ease those first day jitters with pre-employment web conferences?

By incorporating web conferencing into your onboarding process, you can do just that.

Use the tips below to get started.

Start by scheduling a short web conference a few days before the new hire’s first day. With our web conferencing solution, your new hires can participate from home or some other remote location using a simple web browser and an Internet connection. During this conference you can:

Give your new hires a warm welcome. They’ve already received and accepted your formal offer of employment and may have a few questions that have popped up since the last interview. For example, now that they’re getting ready to come work for you, they may want to know more about the dress code or whom they should check in with on the first day of work.

Introduce them to their immediate supervisor or a few colleagues. Arrange to have a few key people join you in the web conference or visit you in your office while you’re interacting with new hires. This doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but rather an informal introduction so that your new employees will more comfortable. Instead of an office full of strangers, they’ll encounter the friendly faces of people they’ve previously met.

Share documents. There’s no reason why your new hires can’t start filling out tax forms or reviewing your health insurance options beforehand. Some will be anxious to get started on that, so consider sharing those documents during your web conference.

Establish a culture of communication. If web conferencing is an important part of your organizational culture, onboarding your new hires via this method is a great way to introduce them to the concept.

A note of caution: It’s easy to go overboard. To ensure that this initial web conference doesn’t overwhelm your new hires, keep it short and focused. Ten to fifteen minutes should be more than enough time to answer questions, share a few documents, and introduce a few colleagues.

While you’re at it, let your new hires know that appearing on camera is optional so that they don’t feel pressured to dress up in order to participate.

Many businesses use web conferencing as part of the recruitment process. Keep the momentum going by adding it to your onboarding process.

Free Trial Web Conference

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Telecommunications Regulation a Century Later in the USA

Telecommunications RegulationOrigins of Telecom – A Century of Telecommunications Regulation in USA

In 1895, Guglielmo Marconi demonstrated the feasibility of radio communication. By 1902, he had successfully transmitted the world’s first transatlantic radiotelegraph message, and the wireless communications era had begun. It didn’t take long before radio telecommunications regulation became necessary with the first attempt at regulating the radio industry occurring just over 100 years ago.

Early Telecommunications Regulations

Early regulations reflected the usage at the time, with the Wireless Ship Act of 1910 focusing on ships with 60 or more passengers. These ships had to have radio equipment intended to transmit messages that facilitated commerce and protected the well-being of passengers. The Wireless Ship Act was overseen by the US Department of Commerce as part of its task of regulating interstate and foreign commerce.

The Radio Act of 1912 soon followed, adding more comprehensive legislative oversight to the US radio industry. This act required radio operators to obtain licenses, regulated modulation types and implemented privacy prohibitions, but it did not address radio broadcasting.

Radio users included military, police, and emergency responders, and later by the 1920s, broadcasters. As adoption increased, demand for airtime increased. Frequencies were limited and each group needed the ability to transmit their messages without interference. The radio industry was growing up, spawning the creation of the independent Federal Radio Commission (FRC) in 1927 as part of the Radio Act of 1927.

This act took authority away from the Department of Commerce and into the FRC’s. The FRC had the authority to deny licenses (something the Department of Commerce was unable to do) as well as assign power levels and frequencies to each licensee.

As you know, telecommunications isn’t limited to radio communications. Telephones, television, and, now, the Internet, all fall under the umbrella of telecom. Thus, the Federal Radio Commission was short lived. The Communications Act of 1934 replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was also granted control and telecommunications regulation with telephone communications and broadcasting.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum as a Public Resource

The FCC and its role is based on the premise that the electromagnetic spectrum, or the so-called airwaves that radio and television are broadcast over, is a public resource that is scarce and belongs to the people. Its management is similar to that of another public resource, US forests. In order to use a given frequency, broadcasters must obtain a license and serve the interest of the community. As such, the FCC had broader authority to deny licenses or restrict content, which is why the FCC has had a say over programming and indecent content.

In addition to allocating frequencies, licensing operators, and enforcing decency standards, the FCC has broken up monopolies, overseen testing of cell phones and digital television, and taken a stance on issues such as Net Neutrality.

Though technologies have changed dramatically since its inception, the FCC still regulates telecommunications in the United States more than 90 years later.

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Sources

“Encyclopedia of Radio Regulation.” n.d. http://www.oswego.edu/~messere/RadioReg.pdf

“Exploring U.S. History | Regulating Television.” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017. http://chnm.gmu.edu/exploring/20thcentury/regulatingtelevision/

“The History of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) | ShoreTel – Business Communications Solutions That Make Interactions Simple.” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.shoretel.com/history-federal-communications-commission-fcc

“Who Invented Radio?” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017. http://public.wsu.edu/~bryan.mclaughlin/Radio/Who_Invented_Radio.html

 

 

 

 

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Call Center Tech Through the Origins of Telecom Years

Origins of Telecom: Call Center Tech Through the Years

call-center-2Call Center can be awesome. Step into any modern call center and prepare to be amazed by technology.  As with most telecommunications technology, the modern call center wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the pioneering projects that came before. Here’s a brief look at some of the early innovations that have contributed to the rise of the call center.

PBX systems — Early PBX (private branch exchange) systems serve as mini switchboards located in a business. PBX systems allow a single telephone to set to be used to answer multiple phone lines. With early and manual PBX system, as phone calls come in, regardless of which actual phone line they are on, an operator answers and greets the caller and then connects the call to the appropriate extension.

Touch-tone dialing — The modern call center, with potentially hundreds of agents working at any given time, might not be possible without this innovation. Prior to touch tone dialing, you couldn’t simply press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, or 0 to speak to an operator. You could not simply enter an extension. For all requests, you had to first speak to an operator who would then attempt to determine what you needed and then manually connect you to the appropriate person or department. Touch-tone dialing was introduced in 1963 but didn’t fully take off until the1980s.

Toll-free telephone numbers — Around the same time in 1967, the 1-800 number arrived. AT&T was the sole provider of toll-free numbers until the mid-1980s when MCI and Sprint began offering them. Airlines, florists, financial institutions, and mail-order companies were among the early adopters. Today, businesses of all types and sizes use low-cost toll-free phone numbers and international toll-free numbers to receive phone calls from callers around the globe.

Automatic call distributor (ACD) — Whether receiving incoming toll or toll-free calls, businesses receiving a high volume of phone calls needed a way to distribute those phone calls to available agents. Human operators could certainly do this using a PBX system, but not very efficiently. Imagine dozens of incoming phone calls all needing your immediate attention while agents idly sat at their stations waiting for you to connect the next call. The automatic call distributor computerized this process, automatically routing calls to the next available agent. PBX systems began incorporating ACD by the early 1970s.

Interactive voice response (IVR) — One of the first uses for interactive voice response was for bank customers to retrieve bank balances via phone — without having to speak with a bank teller. While you could do this using a touch-tone phone, this wasn’t an option for those using rotary phones. Speech recognition technology enabled voice commands.

Predictive dialers — In addition to all of the incoming call technologies that have transformed call centers and business telephone systems, predictive dialers arrived in the 1980s, ushering in the era of telemarketing. These computerized systems retrieve phone numbers from a database and dial them automatically. If a human answers the call, the dialer would then connect a live agent to the call. While telemarketing existed prior to predictive dialers, this technology dramatically improved efficiency. Agents no longer waste time dialing or getting busy signals, fax machines, or unanswered calls. Instead, they are fed a constant serving of live calls.

Call center technology has evolved, incoming and outgoing calls alike are often accompanied by detailed information that pops up on the agent’s screen, enabling the agent to know who they are speaking with, where they are located and other important details.

Today, call centers are often called “contact” centers because they no longer simply handle telephone calls. In fact, contact center agents using unified communications systems can interact with different customers using a variety of different communications channels like voice, chat, text, and social media. Meanwhile, chatbots and artificial intelligence are starting to emerge, serving many of the same functions as IVR, freeing agents to work on the more challenging customer service tasks.

https://www.aitelephone.com

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Sources:

“A Comprehensive History of AI in the Call Center: From ACDs to Predictive Analytics and Beyond – CallMiner.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018a. https://callminer.com/blog/comprehensive-history-ai-call-center-acds-predictive-analytics-beyond/

———. “A Comprehensive History of AI in the Call Center: From ACDs to Predictive Analytics and Beyond – CallMiner.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018b. https://callminer.com/blog/comprehensive-history-ai-call-center-acds-predictive-analytics-beyond/

“History of Toll-Free Numbers – From Collect Calls to Present Day.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018. https://bebusinessed.com/history/history-of-toll-free-numbers/

“Network World – Google Books.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018.

https://books.google.com/books?id=kREEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=ivr+system#v=onepage&q=ivr%20system&f=f

“Telecommunications Virtual Museum.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018. http://www.telcomhistory.org/vm/exhibitsSeattle6.shtml

“The History of the Call Center Explains How Customer Service Got So Annoying – Motherboard.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xyg4mn/the-history-of-the-call-center-explains-how-customer-service-got-so-annoying.

“The History of the Call Centre – Updated.” n.d. Accessed July 9, 2018. https://www.callcentrehelper.com/the-history-of-the-call-centre-15085.htm.

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Video Conferencing Improves Knowledge Exchange

Video Conferencing UserHow to Use Video Conferencing to Improve Knowledge Exchange

At the heart of just about every successful business is the exchange of knowledge. Whether between employees, external suppliers and contractors, or the general public, the flow of information is crucial to a business’s success. Knowledge exchange can take any number of forms including telephone calls, in-person meetings, training classes, workshops, trade shows, presentations, written materials, videos, and more. In recent years, web conferencing has become a convenient option. Use the tips below to leverage your desktop video conferencing tools for improved knowledge exchange.

Embrace its Multimedia Capabilities

Desktop video conferencing brings participants together in a multimedia environment, so take advantage of it. With a web conference, users can:

  • Appear on camera if desired — In many cases, just the presenter will appear on camera though it’s also common for multiple participants to turn on their webcams and interact via video. Using video creates a more intimate meeting and allows participants to get a better read on each other’s facial expressions and body language.
  • Communicate in normal speaking voices — much like you would in an audio conference. Whether dialing in on a separate phone line or using a computer’s microphone and speakers, there’s no need to shout or struggle to hear one another. Sound quality has improved dramatically. Using our audio conference lines enable participants from around the world able to interact verbally without line noise, dropouts, echoes, or other audible interference.
  • Share screens — This one of the most popular uses for web conferencing. For example, rather than sending a link to a PowerPoint file and hoping everyone understands your concepts, you could hold a web conference, share your screen, and walk the group through your presentation. Not only can you answer questions or clarify key points as you go, you’ll be able to get valuable feedback from your team as well as the assurance that everyone has received the information. In fact, you can even get an attendance report emailed to you after the fact that documents everyone’s attendance.
  • Share notes and files — Within the video conferencing interface, you’ll find a variety of tools that you can use to create collaborative notes, send links to files, or interact via text-based chat.

Hold Micro Meetings

Desktop video conferencing is easy to use, and your web-based meetings can be accessed virtually anywhere on a smartphone or computer. In fact, you may find it’s smarter to hold a series of “micro” meetings rather than the occasional long meeting. For example, instead of holding a 1.5-hour weekly meeting each Monday, consider holding 15-minute video conference each day. With such a strategy, you can disseminate the most important and relevant information for the day, discover the latest concerns while they’re fresh, and work toward a shared goal every day.

Build a Knowledge Base

Since you can record every video conference you hold, with each meeting, you’re potentially accumulating a great deal of knowledge. Certainly, not every meeting will be worth preserving for the future. However, many will. For instance, if you use a video conference and its screen-sharing feature to teach new customers how to use the various features of your software, you could place the recording on your website as a video tutorial. Internally, you could create a knowledge base of processes, education, tutorials, troubleshooting steps, lessons learned, and more all by recording your web conferences.

Our desktop video conferencing is easy, accessible, and affordable. Try a free 30-day trial and see for yourself just how well it can improve the flow of information in your office.

Desktop Video Conferencing

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Hold International Conference Calls from Just About Anywhere

How to Hold International Conference Calls from Just About AnywhereOur customers always inspire us with stories of their international conference calls.

Our service has been used in some of the most remote places on earth.

A recent user told us how their company uses international audio conferencing from their oil rigs off the coast of Singapore to communicate with others in Houston, Norway, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Nigeria, Australia, and Singapore. A user in Washington, D.C., says that we’re saving them money, providing excellent quality, and the toll-free access number has increased attendance.

Another user recently told us the service worked well from Bali, Indonesia with no issues “like magic.”

We love these stories. Here’s how you, too, can experience the magic of international conference calls from just about anywhere.

Experience multiple ways to connect

We offer a variety of ways to for your attendees to join your call including toll-free access numbers, local access numbers, moderator dial out, “Connect” app access, Skype access, mobile and VoIP phone access, and 24/7 operator assistance.

  • Host international conference calls from any country — You do not need to be located in the United States to host a global conference call. For example, if you’re in Singapore, you can host an audio conference call with users from around the world. When you dial in, you will dial a local or toll-free access number specific to Singapore while your attendees will dial in using numbers specific to their own countries.
  • Choose the most suitable plan for your needs — We offer several international conferencing plans with each offered without a contract. This makes it easy to change plans should your needs change. If you primarily host international conference calls between USA and Canada, our US-Canada conferencing plan is perfect. Our international conferencing plans offer access numbers for 119 or 150 countries. Whether you have attendees in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, North America, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean, or the Middle East, we can connect you all in a global audio conference!
  • Experience crystal-clear connections — Another common comment we hear from our customers is “the call was clear as a bell.” Connection and audio quality issues have plagued many of our competitors, due in large part to cheap VoIP networks. All of our conference calls are carried over modern PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Networks) connections and state-of-the-art conference bridges, which are well known for exceptional call quality — even when connecting participates from remote locations.
  • Pay as you go — With competitive per minute rates and no monthly fees, our international conferencing plans are a pay-as-you-go option that scales to accommodate your conferencing needs. Whether you make one call per month or one hundred — or none for that matter — you pay only for actual usage.

Be ready at a moment’s notice. Activate your global conferencing account now and you’ll be ready to go the next time you need to collaborate internationally.

aitelephone.com

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Global Virtual Number for American Expatriate Living Overseas

Global Virtual Number for ExpatriatesGlobal Virtual Number for Expatriates

Global virtual number may be a very important part of an expatriate’s arsenal when on an overseas job assignment or anyone that is retiring abroad or have made the commitment to living overseas, staying in touch with your associates, family, and friends back home is a common priority amongst American expatriates or expatriates from any country.

Technology offers a variety of great options including email, text messaging, FaceTime, and more. The humble phone call is also a cherished way to stay connected, but dialing conventions and costs are often a concern. Fortunately, expats can make use of global virtual phone numbers, an affordable alternative that breaks down barriers to calling one another. Here’s how you can use virtual numbers as an American expatriate living overseas.

A global virtual phone number is a special type of call forwarding number that acts much like a toll free number. It is local to the host country but forwards the calls to a destination phone located anywhere in the world. As the account holder, for example, you’ll pay for any toll charges incurred, even if your loved ones initiate the phone call using your USA virtual number. Our competitive no-contract plans keep your costs low. In fact, many of our clients find that it’s cheaper to use a virtual phone number than dialing an international number directly.

We recommend signing up for two virtual phone numbers:

  • A virtual phone number for your host country — You’ll use this number to make cheap international phone calls to your American contacts while living in your host country. For example, if you’re living in Italy, you can order a global virtual phone number for Italy that is similar to a local Italian phone number. It can either be toll free for Italy or a regional phone number such as a Rome or Milan local number. In either case, you won’t need to dial international access codes or Italy exit codes to reach the destination phone in America. By changing the “ring to” or destination number in your account, you can call virtually anyone in the United States using a low-cost alternative to international long distance services. Italy Virtual Number Database
  • A virtual phone number for USA— This is the number to give to your American contacts to dial whenever they want to call you. This virtual number can be a traditional toll free number or it can be local to any number of US cities across all fifty states such as Los Angeles, Miami, Des Moines, Kansas City, San Diego, and more. Thus, if your loved one lives in Talladega, Alabama, you could order a virtual number with Talladega’s 256 prefix and forward any calls to your overseas home phone number. Your loved one would dial a local number yet reach you wherever in the world you may be.  US Virtual Numbers

Once you’ve established your two global virtual phone numbers, you can use them immediately to both make and receive international phone calls. You can even set up specific rules so that incoming phone calls are routed to your home number, mobile phone number, or office number based on the time of day. If you prefer that all of your phones ring simultaneously, that’s an option, too. If you’re living abroad with a partner, you can share a global virtual number and set up separate extensions for each of you and use the automated voice response system to prompt callers to press the appropriate extension.

Offered on a monthly basis with no contract, our global virtual phone numbers are ideal for both long-term and short-term use. Whether you’re on an extended tour, a short overseas assignment, or living abroad permanently, we have flexible global call forwarding plans to meet your needs.

View rates and plans for International Virtual Phone Numbers

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International Conference Calls Enable Connecting Offshore Workers

Remote International Conference CallsJoining Your International Conference Calls

Working with remote teams has become commonplace. Whether you need to collaborate with co-workers from branch offices located overseas or have created a virtual team of independent contractors located in a variety of countries, gathering in a group audio conference call is occasionally necessary. Our pay-as-you-go international conferencing service is the perfect way to bring an offshore team together into a group audio call. However, some of your offshore team members may need a little help connecting. Here’s how you can help them to join your international conference calls.

Country-Specific Access

Start by providing each offshore worker with a list of country-specific access numbers unique to their home countries. For example, if you have team members in India, China, Australia, and the USA, everyone will dial into your conference call using a different access number. Refer to the list of all global access numbers you received upon account activation and copy and paste the access numbers each participant should use.

Mobile Phone Access

If anyone has trouble dialing in using the access numbers provided, they may be using a mobile phone in a country where mobile access numbers need to be used. For example, a participant in China using a mobile phone will need to use one of our China 400 international conference call toll-free access numbers compatible with mobile phones. A China 400 number is a toll-free number that works with mobile phones across mainland China.

Mobile access numbers, where available, are included on our list of access numbers. However, your participants may need to be guided to use the right number.

App Access

Another option you could suggest would be to have the worker download and use our free Connect app. This app works on both Wi-Fi-connected smartphones and computers, allowing participants to connect to your international conference calls without dialing an access number at all. This is helpful for all kinds of situations and personal preferences. Whether a local access number is not available or the user simply prefers the ease of use of the app, joining a global conference call is a simple matter of clicking or tapping to join.

Dial-Out International Conference Calls Access

You may need to dial some offshore participants directly. Perhaps they’re in one of the few countries that don’t have access numbers or maybe they don’t have a smartphone or a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Fortunately, as the moderator of the international conference call, you can dial the offshore participant’s phone number directly and then join the participant into your global conference call. It’s easy to do and ensures that even the most remote of your team members can participate in your global calls.

MP3 Session Recording

The chairperson may begin recording the call at any time.  By simply entering [*1] on the phone keypad, starts the recording of the call free of charge.  The MP3 audio file link will be attached to the attendance report email when the conference completes.

Operator Assistance

Finally, you can call upon one of our live operators for assistance at any time, 24 hours per day. We’ll be happy to call your offshore participants on your behalf and join them into your conference calls.

If you have an offshore team, having multiple ways to connect to your international conference calls from other countries will help ensure that no matter what the local telecom circumstances may be, your team can connect.

International Conference Call Details

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