NEW YORK - Lawyers like to confer. Doctors need to consult. Lenders must cross-check information. And business owners of all kinds are too pressed for time to travel to meetings every time the need arises. So Verizon now has a new solution: affordable voice conference calls. Verizon Conferencing Services offers businesses cost-effective and efficient ways to host such calls with Verizon Access Now and Verizon Event Meet.
Available on demand, Verizon Access Now allows the host to connect up to 40 participants with no special equipment required, or monthly subscription fees or contracts.
Spur-of-the-moment meetings can be assembled with ease. All parties can be joined together on one connection as fast as the subscriber can inform the participants, dial a conference call-in number and enter the pass code. Because the service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, scheduling is easy: Give participants a time, a number and a pass code, and the meeting is booked. Because there is no reservation, only up to 40 ports are guaranteed.
The Web moderator feature enables Access Now hosts to control certain features and capabilities from their desktop before and during the call. Alphanumeric billing codes, muting controls and confirmation e-mails are some of the features available. The Web moderator feature is provided at no additional cost.
"This service makes getting everyone together reasonable and feasible, even on short notice," said Kitty Linder, president of Verizon LiveSource, which includes the company's operator services, call completion and public communications products. "Nothing makes business management more efficient than timely information-sharing, and conferencing is a lot more direct than complex e-mail exchanges or bare-bones one-to-one-only instant messaging."
According to a study by Frost and Sullivan, unreserved audio conferencing minutes are likely to consume more than 78 percent of all U.S. audio conferencing services traffic by 2008.
Verizon also offers three reservation-based conference packages as part of the Verizon Conferencing Service portfolio. Verizon Event Meet, a reservation-based platform, includes automated, operator assisted and premium package options.
The automated conference option allows participants to enter using a predetermined pass code. Customers can schedule one-time or ongoing calls with an unlimited number of participants. A Verizon conference coordinator accepts and schedules the conference call and sends an e-mail confirmation with all the call details to the host within one hour of making the reservation. For increased security, the pass codes are only valid for the duration of the call. The Web manager functionality described above is included.
The Verizon Event Meet operator-assisted option requires a reservation and is set up as an invitation-only call. The Verizon conference coordinator assists with the scheduling, greeting and connection of all conference participants. Roll call is an optional feature that can be requested at the time of booking at no additional charge. The conference coordinator can be summoned to assist with any problems during the call by dialing * 0. Calls can have an unlimited number of participants.
"Increasingly, businesses are turning to audio-conferencing as a cost-effective tool to stay in touch," says Linder. "Audio conferencing can increase communication with far-flung field employees, customers or teleworkers while drastically reducing the time and expense associated with even local business travel and the time-consuming process of arranging on-site meetings."
Businesses with more complex requirements may opt for Verizon Event Meet -- premium package. Under this option, an event manager is assigned for the duration of the call and can be called upon to perform sound check, facilitate a question-and-answer session following the presentation, provide instructions to conference participants on how to ask a question, introduce each questioner by name, and provide any other requested information. Participant lists and replay recordings can be processed shortly after the conclusion of the call.
Call participants calling from within the United States have toll-free access, and the host fees start at around 13 cents per minute for each participant. There are no sign-up fees, surcharges, long-term commitments, or minimum charges. Verizon Conferencing Service users are only charged for the minutes they use. The low, flat rate enables users to easily budget for conferencing expenses.
Verizon Conferencing Services merely requires standard telephone access at the host and the participants' locations. This makes the service universally available to all participants, anywhere, any time, from landlines or wireless phones.
Verizon Conference Services is available nationwide. Customers can find more information on the Web at www.verizon.com/enterpriseconferencing or by calling 1-877-989-2663.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 210,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom serves customers based in 29 states with wireline telecommunications services, including broadband, nationwide long-distance and other services. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 43.8 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.