Audio Bridge

An audio bridge, otherwise known as a teleconference bridge, is a type of equipment that is used in making conference calls over the telephone. All the connections that are a part of the call have the audio bridge as the point of termination. This creates something like a common hub where the connection and interaction of lines becomes easy. While this is one of the oldest forms of teleconferencing bridges, it is still being put to good use in several places around the world. Large scale production of audio bridges has been happening since approximately mid-20th century.

The earliest designs of audio bridge equipment were not only very expensive, but also rather large and awkward to use. In the nascent stages of its production and use, audio bridges were only owned by telephone service providers. However, by around the mid to late 1960′s, a few of the larger companies and organizations started to incorporate their own internal and independent communication systems. These systems were also making use of audio bridge equipment in order to connect internal company facilities via conference calls.

1984 saw a milestone in the United States in terms of teleconferencing when the Government regulation on the telephone industry was removed. Several independent providers of conference call services emerged. Some of these private companies were able to design and manufacture their own versions of the audio bridge. The establishment of contracts between these independent providers and local as well as long distance carriers enabled them to provide such services to clients located across various regions of the country. The newer version of the audio bridge was not only much smaller and smarter; they also had a comparatively larger line capacity. Dialing out and arranging a conference call using the audio bridge became much simpler than it was in the 1950′s.

The 1990′s witnessed several more changes to the audio bridge technology. The older and more obsolete technology of analog devices was increasingly abandoned and manufacturers began to favor the latest digital technology of the day. This resulted in a further increase in line capacity of the bridges. Not just that, the quality and sensitivity levels of the sound saw a marked improvement. Apart from major changes in sound and capacity, the requirement of an operator was also phased out with the new audio bridge designs. Participants could now simply dial in to the audio bridge, saving a lot of time as well as effort. This new method came to be termed as ‘meet-me’ or ‘dial-in’ conferencing. In order to ensure that all the callers were routed to the correct call, the system of a unique password or passcode was created. Soon, toll-free numbers started to be put into use for access to the bridge, and the old dial-out method was completely phased out.

With the increasing popularity of the internet during the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, the technology of the audio bridge saw further changes. Phone signal streaming via the internet now enabled international participation on conference calls at almost negligible prices. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) was thus created. With VoIP type of audio bridges, equipment is placed at the phone switches. Using this equipment, the online or internet based audio streams are converted into standard forms of digital phone signals and delivered at each location or end of the conference call connection. This has resulted in continual and drastic reductions in conferencing costs. This technology is now easily available not only to any type and size of business but also to individuals.

In the current form of usage, the audio bridge is often coupled with video conferencing technology as well. In these hybrid varieties of bridges, audio as well as video are carried on the same circuits. This cuts out the need for separate types of audio and video equipment to carry out a conference or a meeting. No doubt, this type of bridge is costlier when compared to the traditional audio bridge. However, its use and popularity has increased considerably in recent times, more so with multi-national corporations.

This Audio Bridge Review is Written/Updated on May 8th, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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