BT And Dolby Transform Conference Calls So You Feel Like You're In The Room

Cambridge University research reveals poor sound quality makes meetings less effective and increases fatigue

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BT and Dolby Laboratories today announced the launch of BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice to the U.S. market. BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice is an audio conferencing service that can dramatically transform one of businesses most essential, but problematic daily activities - the conference call - by replicating the sound of face-to-face meetings. 

BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice features a natural audio quality that makes remote conference call participants feel as if they are in the same room, enabling them to focus on the content of the conversation, without being distracted or frustrated by the limitations of standard conference call technology. This improves understanding and productivity, allowing decisions to be made more quickly, saving time and money.  Because the service can be accessed from an internet connection, customers can save on dial-in costs, giving a reduction in the cost of BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice compared to traditional audio conferencing.

BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice, exclusive to BT, features:

  • High Fidelity Audio offers outstanding sound clarity and eliminates background noises, for better understanding between call participants
  • Voice Separation provides clear, distinct voices, which means participants know who said what
  • 'Everyone Participates' function allows users to focus on a particular conversation, even when people are talking over each other (often referred to as the cocktail-party effect). Everyone can be heard, not just the loudest, dominant talkers. This enables more natural interactions because more subtle audio cues are preserved.

BT has held more than 10,000 trial conferences of BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice generating more than a million conference minutes. Nine out of 10 participants prefer BT's MeetMe with Dolby Voice over their normal audio conferencing product. Comments from participants have been overwhelmingly positive.

Pain Points of Conference Calls, By the Numbers

A new report from the University of Cambridge, called Conversations, Conferencing and Collaboration: A US investigation of factors influencing the effectiveness of distributed meetings* has found that for 91 percent of the businesses surveyed, audio conferencing is still the most frequently used conferencing technology.

Almost all (96 percent) of the companies surveyed rated "having good sound quality" as the most important factor impacting effectiveness of conference calls, followed by "using reliable conferencing technology" (93 percent). The report found that poor audio made it hard to understand who is speaking, what is being said and in what emotional tone. This in turn led to increased stress levels for participants and decreased productivity.

Efficient speaker identification was felt to be crucial to a successful conference call by 61 percent of those surveyed, while 84 percent stressed the high importance of muting background noise.     

Dr Anna Mieczakowski at the University of Cambridge, said: "Poor sound quality puts pressure on participants' hearing and thinking capabilities, which can result in tiredness and impair people's concentration and contributions to the meeting, as well as having a negative effect on secondary tasks such as note-taking. By improving the sound quality of a call, participants will be less stressed and less tired, and thus in a better position to clearly communicate their views and understand those of other attendees."   

Howard Dickel, CEO BT Conferencing, said: "The research from Cambridge shows that conference call users believe higher sound quality would greatly improve the efficiency of their calls. We believe this would be a major factor in speeding up decision making processes. Our partnership with Dolby will radically improve the quality and dynamics of conference calls and because of this we expect businesses and their staff to get greater value from the experience. BT will be selling this through its BT One portfolio of unified communications and collaboration solutions."

Andrew Border, VP, Communications Business Group, Dolby, said: "Audio conferencing is an essential tool for conveniently and affordably connecting distributed and mobile workers. But current solutions suffer from technical limitations that prevent natural interactions. BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice makes conference calls sound and feel more like everyone is in the same room, which encourages participation, spontaneity, and collaboration, resulting in more productive meetings."

The new service, developed in partnership by BT and Dolby builds on the existing capabilities of BT's MeetMe audio conferencing service, currently used by thousands of businesses worldwide. It is part of a series of new collaboration services launched by BT intended to transform the quality of business conversations and greatly improve the way people work together within and between organizations.

BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice is an audio conferencing service which can be integrated with existing collaboration tools including web conferencing. The software runs on standard PCs and Macs, and it can be delivered through a standard stereo headset. Callers can also join over a standard phone line if they are unable to access the software. A mobile version for iOS and Android devices as well as an in-room conference phone will be available shortly.

Key behaviors:

  • Audio-based solutions are the most frequently used conferencing technology
  • Sixty percent of calls last between 30 minutes and one hour

Top five ways to improve conferencing:

  1. Using reliable technology
  2. Having good sound quality
  3. Good management of distributed teams
  4. Effective chairing of distributed meetings
  5. Focused participation from individual attendees.

Notes to editors * The research was conducted by University of Cambridge Engineering Design Centre and completed in October 2013.

About BT
BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

For the year ended  March 31, 2013, BT Group's reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 

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