BT and Dolby launch MeetMe service to end pain of conference calls

BT and Dolby aim to drag the audio quality of conference calls into the 21st century by introducing a service that provides clarity on a par with face-to-face meetings.

BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice is a one-click online voice conferencing system that does not require users to dial-in or input a pin number. Instead, users simply need to be connected to the internet and click on the invite to join a call.

We've seen reductions in cost of ownership between 20 and 40 per cent when it comes to conferencing equipment.

Available to use today on PCs and Macs, BT plans to release Android and iOS apps in Q1 2014 and a Dolby-made conference phone device is expected to launch in the second half of next year.

BT is also working on integrating MeetMe into commonly used enterprise systems including Cisco's WebEx and Jabber, Microsoft Lync and its own One Voice anywhere tool. Support for these is set to roll out in the coming months.

Despite providing better audio calling than regular conference calls via Dolby's software codecs and datacentre optimisations, BT is confident the premium price of the product will not be a barrier to adoption.

Organisations can expect to make cost savings as they will be using their own networks to make connections as opposed to external dial-in services, explained Howard Dickel, CEO of BT Conferencing.

"Although we're charging a premium on the pence-per-minute, usage of the service [is cheaper] as a complete solution because you're running over your own IP networks and there is no additional cost to access the conference call in the first place," Dickel told IT Pro.

"Cost savings will vary considerably. We've seen reductions in cost of ownership between 20 and 40 per cent when it comes to conferencing equipment."

Despite the advent of high-definition video, conference calling remains integral to business productivity with firms reportedly spending 100 billion minutes a year on audio meetings.

So far BT has carried out 10,000 trial calls and claims MeetMe increases meeting productivity by up to 75 per cent as users don't need to muck around connecting, there is less need for repetition and participants are more engaged.

Dickel added that, in the last year, BT saved 683 million by having high-quality conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.