BT hopes to attract Web conference addicts with promise of better sound quality

BT is opening up its MeetMe with Dolby Voice conferencing service to new clients and countries

Network operator British Telecom is hoping to increase the popularity of its audioconferencing service by extending a high-quality audio feature to users of Web-based conferencing clients.

The company first partnered with Dolby Laboratories in October 2013 to improve the audio quality of its MeetMe IP-based conferencing service -- and is now planning to extend support for Dolby Voice to Web-based clients such as Cisco Systems' WebEx and Microsoft's Lync.

"We are targeting these developments to be available in March," said David Stark, vice president in charge of BT's conferencing offerings.

What MeetMe with Dolby Voice purports to offer is great voice quality and voice separation, which makes it easier to hear who's saying what. BT has until now been doing this through a dedicated desktop terminal, the Dolby Conference Phone, which it is now making available "worldwide".

For MeetMe, that's all parts of the world where BT is licensed to sell data and voice services, including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. The phone is shipping in the U.S. and Europe now, and will be shipping in Australia and an increasing number of Asian locations before the end of March.

The Dolby Conference Phone can be used as an endpoint for MeetMe or as a regular SIP phone. It uses a wide-band voice codec along with noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation.

For people on the move, there are already MeetMe apps for smartphones and tablets running Android or iOS. There are also software clients for Windows and Mac desktop and laptops.

BT is hoping the expanded platform support and the global availability will help the operator move more conference calls from the public telephone network to IP.

"That lets us provide [enterprises] with a better service at a lower cost," Stark said.

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