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, or at their newer website: There you will also find an offer for a 20-minute free-trial conference call.•


Stephen Bour ( 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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues