What is a Conference Bridge?

A conference call is a call between two or more callers over separate phone lines or an Internet connection. The software that makes these multiple connections possible is a conference bridge.

A conference bridge consists of the following:

  • a phone number (or DID) to call in for the conference (this can be a local or a toll-free number)
  • a PIN for the attendees
  • a pin for  the administrator

With a conference bridge, the administrator can do one of two things:

  1. Conduct a conference call anytime using the conference bridge phone number. All he/she has to do is give the phone number and pin to anyone who will be in attendance.
  2. Schedule a conference call using the conference bridge software, typically accessible via a Web-based control panel. The administrator simply logs in and inputs the attendees’ names/email addresses. The system will automatically email the attendees the conference bridge phone number and pin as well as the date/time of the conference call. The system will also remind the attendees of the upcoming conference call at set intervals.

There are typically several features that are included with a conference bridge, including:

  • A permanent DID or phone number can be used anytime for ad-hoc conference calls.
  • A PIN to allow access to the conference bridge. (A PIN is assigned to the administrator of the conference bridge and those attending the conference bridge.)
  • The ability to schedule conference bridge meetings anytime via a Web-based interface. Attendants are emailed several days or hours before the conference call, reminding them of the number to call and the PIN to use.
  • The attendees are prompted to give their names so that the other attendees know who has joined the conference bridge and who has left the conference bridge (the conference bridge administrator can typically turn this on or off)

The VoIP PBX provider can limit the number of attendees in a conference bridge or set it to unlimited. Check with your provider for information on this.

A conference bridge makes conference calls easier, more systematic, and more professional for the business owner. Each attendee must have a PIN to attend the conference. The system will prompt the caller for their name and announce it to the other attendees when they join and hang up.

What do you need for a conference bridge?

  1. A high-speed internet connection.
  2. A VoIP-hosted PBX system
  3. Your phone system has a conference bridge feature (ask your provider to set this up for you if it is not already set up).
  4. A great-sounding VoIP phone to use in your conference room. Here is an example of a powerful conference room phone: Polycom SoundStation IP 6000. (not required)
  5. Each attendee needs a phone they can dial in on (it does not have to be a VoIP phone).

A conference bridge can be a very useful phone system feature for businesses of any size. They are not only professional-sounding but can also be very versatile.

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