Big River Telephone releases on-demand teleconferencing

Friday, October 15, 2004

Business Today

Cape Girardeau-based Big River Telephone has released a new Web-based teleconferencing system, complete with on-demand features and an interactive Web interface to control conference calls.

The Big River Teleconferencing Center gives the user total control of the conference call by means of a Web-enabled interface. This is a locally created product, with the expertise of Big River Telephone software engineers using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, according to company president Kevin Cantwell

Cantwell said VOIP technology allows conference call users to see what is occurring during the audio conference. The moderator, or leader, of the call can now manage a more productive teleconference call from his desk by simply using his own computer and a browser. For example, many users of this type of service often wonder who all is on their call and who might be speaking at any give time. With VOIP technology, the Big River Teleconference Center displays real-time information on every caller. All the features and functionality are at the moderator's finger tips and no additional equipment or special software is needed.

"One of the most beneficial features of the system is that everything is on demand … you don't even have to schedule the call, just dial the toll free access number, fire up the browser, enter in your code and you are ready for business," said Cantwell.

To use the real-time interactive Web site, customers go to www.bigriverconference.com and type in their assigned moderator and participant codes. Once customers have entered the Web-based teleconferencing platform, they can choose to visit a current call that is taking place, listen to previously recorded conversations, or view a list of the recent conversations.

"Customers have already use this Web-based application for sales calls, internal meetings, investor updates, and human resource interviews," said Cantwell, "We even had a huge surge over the last few weeks for Fantasy Football drafts."

According to marketing and sales director Meredith White, Big River Telephone has been a successful local company that nearly tripled its customer base in the past three years. In 2001, Big River Telephone purchased the assets of the modest-sized LDD Inc. The company quickly evolved into the region's largest and oldest local telephone company.

The company is largely focused on providing the community with the newest technology advances for both businesses and residences. The major buzz in the industry has been Voice Over Internet Protocol, which allows both data and voice to travel over the same line without interfering with one another. Big River Telephone has used this technology for the past 18 months.

"Everything from getting on the call to adding and/or dropping callers is just a point and click away with the Web-enabled interface, said Cantwell. "Our goal was to make the Web interface as user friendly as possible. Even a 10-year-old can use this system."

Other features of the teleconferencing system allow users to raise or lower the volume of individual users, mute one or all participants and a user can even record calls that can be immediately downloaded and emailed.

Big River is currently offering this product to local, regional and national businesses. Due to the fact that users simply dial a toll-free number to access the system, availability is not restricted as traditional phone service often is.

"The new teleconferencing system, currently labeled as the Big River Conference Center, has already been utilized by several companies in the region, including NewWave Communications, Galaxy Cablevision and Cape Radiology," said White.

The application originated with Jerry Howe, Big River CEO, and Tim Fagin, vice president of business development. The core application was written by software engineers Jeremy Wolfe and John Gettys. The idea was turned into reality by Wolfe and Gettys, who then leveraged the capabilities of the company's Class 5 switch, which was installed in April of this year.

The birth of the application until completion of the Big River Telephone Conference Center took about three months. This includes the FLASH demo, created by Wolfe, available for consumers to review at www.bigriverconference.com.

"One of the major advantages of being a customer-focused telecommunications company is that we can respond to our customers' needs with solutions within a few weeks time, as opposed to a few years," said Cantwell. "This is just another example of what our customers have asked for.

"This is just the start of a blossoming product. Big River will continue to advance the product with more features and capabilities in the coming weeks."

Big River Telephone is also working on a new voicemail product that is expected to be released in within the next few months. This system is also based on the VOIP platform.

According to White, "This system will allow customers to receive voicemail, messages via email, find-me-follow-me features, ring to a second number and many other advanced features. This voicemail product will be available to all Big River Telephone business and residential customers."

Cantwell said there are a number of other VOIP-enable products in Big River Telephone's line up , and there will be more advancements in current technologies as well as better and more cost effective solutions for data services across the board.

Big River Telephone, with more than 20 years experience, is one of the oldest competitive telephone company providers in the country, as well as the largest in the region. The company operates a fixed wireless network that delivers local, long distance, data and Internet services to residences and businesses.

Big River Telephone brings network service solutions to eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky, and it has the capabilities to meet customer business needs throughout the United States.

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