What is Reservationless Teleconferencing?

Malcolm Tatum

Reservationless teleconferencing is a type of audio conference that does not require the client to make a reservation for a conference call in advance. A form of teleconferencing that emerged during the early 1990’s, the reservationless teleconference has become one of the most popular forms of conference calls among business and non-profit organizations. Over the years, enhancements to this type of call format has made it even more user-friendly, while also allowing audio conference providers to offer the service at extremely competitive rates.

Reservationless teleconferencing does not require advance reservations, making it ideal for emergency and spur-of-the-moment teleconferences.
Reservationless teleconferencing does not require advance reservations, making it ideal for emergency and spur-of-the-moment teleconferences.

With a traditional conference call, the client contacts the provider in advance and reserves a specific number of lines on a specific date and time, and for a specific duration. The reservation is prepared, then downloaded into a teleconferencing bridge, where a conference operator activates the reservation, usually fifteen to thirty minutes before the scheduled start time. The conference remains active on the bridge until the meeting is completed and all parties disconnect from the call. At that point, the conference operator deactivates the call, and it cannot be used again without the creation of a new reservation.

Reservationless teleconferencing eliminates the need to make an advance reservation for a conference call. While there is some variance in format, a reservationless account is established for a specific conference moderator. The account is assigned a number of lines for use at any given time, and assigned to a teleconference bridge. The data for the reservation is activated on the bridge, and is available for use by the authorized party any time of the day or night, with no need to notify the conference call service in advance of the usage.

To access the conference, the moderator is provided with a toll-free dial-in number, along with a minimum of two security codes. One of the codes is used by the moderator to officially initiate the conference, while the second code is used by anyone invited by the moderator to attend the meeting. With most call configurations, the charges on the account cease when the last line disconnects from the call session at the end of the meeting.

Once issued, the dial-in number and any security codes issued to the moderator remain in place for as long as the account is established with the provider. This allows the moderator to arrange a conference call by simply notifying the attendees of when the meeting is to take place, and providing them with the dial-in number and participant code to enter using the telephone keypad when prompted. The nature of reservationless teleconferencing makes it an ideal format for use in emergency situations, or for use with recurring meetings that take place weekly, but not necessarily the same day and time each week.

Over the years, a number of features have become common with as part of the basic reservationless teleconferencing format. The ability of the moderator to mute all attendee lines is one example, as is the ability of the moderator to use a sequence of codes to obtain a line and call out to an attendee who has not dialed into the conference. In recent years, the addition of attendance lists have become part of the basic reservationless teleconferencing packages offered by most provider. These lists capture details like the originating telephone numbers of each caller accessing the meeting, the entry and exit times for each line, the minutes accrued on each line, and a notation of any numeric code, such as a department code or client matter number that the moderator chooses to associate with the meeting. All these features are considered standard in most cases, and are included in the basic cost per minute per line for the service.

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