A guest post by Niko Walraven, Director, Voice and UC Solutions Asia Pacific:
For years now, voice conferencing has been one of the most critical elements of group communication across borders. When Polycom launched the first Polycom SoundStation conference phone in 1992, it changed the way groups communicated by phone. This iconic, triangular-shaped HD audio solution has become a standard feature in small- to mid-size conference rooms globally, whether using analog lines or Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, and is renowned for its exceptional HD voice clarity.
Those unfamiliar with the real benefits of audio conferencing may wonder why investing in a conference phone is necessary at all, when practically all phones have a speaker function. However, there are several arguments why a conference phone is an essential component in UC solutions. Primarily, there is a big difference in user experience; to truly make any meeting over a conference call with multiple participants effective, the quality of audio is important and crystal-clear conversations are a must for productive meetings. Poor voice quality, background noise, and static are no longer acceptable during a meeting when all attendees’ attention and participation is fully required.
It is also not practical to huddle over a speaker phone, when several participants are involved, trying to catch what the person on the other side of the line is saying. Typical desktop speaker phones are designed to deliver a great person-to- person voice call; a conference room requires a much larger radius of microphone pick up. Polycom had all these in mind when designing the range of voice conferencing solutions, offering HD Voice, patented Polycom Acoustic Clarity Technology, and 360-degree microphone pickup with a radius of up to 20 feet (6.1m) for creating an environment where conversations flow naturally as if everyone was seated in the same room.
When selecting an audio conferencing solution, there is also the deliberation between analog and IP phones. Particularly in Asia the demands for analog is still very strong, partly due to regulation or partly because most APAC service providers are not ready for alternatives yet. However we do start to see encouraging signs of IP telephony being preferred not only because of the richer user experience through Microsoft Lync or SIP but also because of a superior sound quality. Our new product developments continue to prepare for the IP voice revolution, with dedicated IP conference phones for Microsoft Lync like the Polycom CX3000, for SIP like the SoundStation IP range, or for analog phonelines with our best selling product line the Polycom SoundStation2. For customers who would like to support IP, analog or Lync, we have the Polycom SoundStation Duo, which works with all three platforms.
Polycom SoundStation2 and Polycom SoundStation Duo
Whether choosing analog or IP like SIP or Lync voice solutions, each has their own benefits, which we can delve into a little further:
Analog Phones (such as PSTN)
Analog phones use traditional plug-in phone lines which operate via a service-provider exchange.
Customers can just plug the phone in and get on with business
Drives cost down by leveraging existing communication investments
Most service providers in Asia Pacific are equipped for analog telephony systems
Cost-effective solution for smaller businesses.
IP Phones (such as Lync and SIP)
IP phones use the internet to connect and receive calls.
Operates within the same telephony network and environment, making it easier for organisations with multiple offices and remote workers to access the system
Allows for flexible deployments – i.e. can be moved to different locations
Capitalises on broadband advancements
As with any technology deployment, the choice in deploying IP or analog audio conferencing should be made with the organisation’s needs in mind. As organisations of all sizes constantly look to maximise efficiency and drive costs down, better collaboration and smarter ways of working between teams, partners, or customers come into play. Conference calls therefore remain more important than ever in a world of globalisation, off-shoring, telecommuters, and geographically-dispersed workgroups.
Read more here to discover the 10 benefits of choosing a Polycom voice conferencing solution.