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

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

Scheduling Meetings

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

Reservation-less meeting

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

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

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

Access number supports multiple languages 

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

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

From the Outlook “Conferencing” Tab:

 

From the OC:

 

From the email invitation:

 

From the Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Attendant:

 

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

 

 Music on Hold 

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

Entry/Exit Tone 

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

Mute/Un-mute Announcements 

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

Dial-in using different devices

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

In-Meeting Experience with Office Communicator

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

 

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

 

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

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

Traditional Audio Bridge Provider flow: 

OCS Join flow:

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

 

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

 

Brenda Bell
Sr. Program Manager

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