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Technology Untangled: Versatile conference calling available with Spiderphone

Stephen Bour
October 9, 2013
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technology-bourSpiderphone sounds like the hotline for that imaginary masked superhero. It is, instead, a useful and inexpensive Web-assisted telephone conferencing system that makes it easy to set up and conduct multiple-caller speakerphone meetings.

First off, why is it called Spiderphone? According to their website, conference call engineers refer to each connection to a conference as a “leg.” Spiders have lots of legs and, of course, they are on a web. Silly name aside, Spiderphone is a versatile communication tool.

I originally discovered Spiderphone because I was fed up with the cost and hassle of setting up multiple call-in speakerphone events through the phone company. I tried some Internet-based VoIP conferencing solutions but was unimpressed with the call quality. Spiderphone offered the simplicity, high quality and low cost I was looking for. The bonus was discovering all of the extra features that Spiderphone provides when managing conference calls using the Web.

While the system uses the Internet, the voice part of the telephone conference is conducted over traditional high-quality digital phone lines. This is not an Internet-based VoIP communication system, so it is not susceptible to the variable quality and performance issues that sometimes affect VoIP calling. I also like this service because all the servers, telephone bridge hardware and support services are based in the U.S.

Signup was quick, easy and free. If you have a need for a conference call today, you can be ready to go in five minutes. Creating the account is just like signing up for anything else on the Internet. You enter some basic information, including – of course – a credit card. There is no setup fee. You will then be provided a PIN and a permanent conference code that will be used by all participants whenever they call in for a conference you have set up. After initial signup, initiating a conference call takes no time at all, and you don’t even need a computer at that point. However, there are some advantages to using the computer, which I will discuss later.

The easiest way to proceed is with an on-demand call (no reservation needed), initiated from any phone. You provide your participants with the call time, the dial-in number for the Spiderphone switchboard and the conference code. As moderator, you then dial into the switchboard first and enter your PIN, then simply wait for the others to call in at the appointed time.

Billing for calls is as low as 4.5 cents per minute, per participant. If you choose to offer your attendees a toll-free dial-in number, your cost as moderator increases to 6 cents per minute, per participant. There are also monthly flat rate plans available.

If you prefer, you can set up a reservation for a conference through the Spiderphone website. This has the advantage of allowing you to generate email notifications for all participants that include hotlinks for them to click to connect via telephone to join the conference, as well as to connect via the Web to view additional information during the conference. The system even allows the option for the participant to receive a call to initiate participation in a conference. Alternately, participants can simply dial the phone number and the code provided in the email.

There are several advantages for participants using the Web-assisted interface while talking in the phone conference. First, you can see information displayed about all who are participating in the call. But more importantly, the identity of the specific person talking at any moment during the call is displayed, or more precisely, the line for each call participant is displayed. The system cannot differentiate between two attorneys who are sharing the same speakerphone in an office. This can be very useful during a deposition to quickly identify who is posing an objection, for example. It can also be helpful for sorting things out in situations when there are large numbers of phone-in participants involved.

There are additional interactive features. Electronic documents such as exhibits can be uploaded, downloaded and shared during a call, all from within the Spiderphone Web interface. This means you don’t have to fuss with e-mailing attachments to other participants while in the midst of a call. You can even upload and share PowerPoint presentations and audio and video clips. You can also send individual, private text messages to other participants during a call. This could be useful for attorneys to communicate with their paralegals about questions during a deposition, for example.

The audio from a call can be recorded and shared. As moderator, you can set up for automatic recording when making a conference reservation or you can choose to start recording at any time during a conference by simply clicking the “record” button. The system will automatically insert a “record” notification announcement. The recordings can then be downloaded by participants after the meeting, if you choose to allow it. Be aware, there is an additional fee for recording.

Spiderphone offers many other features and services that are worth exploring. You can learn more about them at www.spiderphone.com, or at their newer website: www.conferencecallcenter.com. There you will also find an offer for a 20-minute free-trial conference call.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.
 

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

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  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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