Corporations, organizations or universities wishing to host regular teleconferences need to have the proper hardware installed to handle the number of participants expected each time. When purchasing or leasing the necessary hardware, you'll also need to secure the proper software and accompanying licenses to get the teleconferencing hardware running properly. An in-house information technology (IT) staff can handle the required setup. Organizations without an IT staff can hire a consultant to assist with the setup.
Any dependable teleconferencing setup first needs one or more reliable, high performance servers. The CPU should be fast, greater than 3 MGhz, with RAM of at least 1GB and a minimum 100MB Ethernet interface, which should be able to accommodate 50 to 100 callers. If you'll have participants calling in from multiple locations such as their own remote offices, their own servers or phone equipment can handle their own end of the teleconference. However, if you are setting up teleconferencing capabilities at multiple corporate sites or university campuses, you may want to have reliable servers installed at all locations where you'll have people involved in the conference. These servers don't necessarily need to be as large as the main office or campus hosting the teleconference unless there will be large numbers of participants at each location.
To effectively run or participate in teleconferences, you'll need high-speed Internet connectivity of a minimum 10Mbps for each 50 callers you expect to have involved on a given call. Large companies, universities or organizations can accomplish this with their own high-speed LAN; however, the most budget-conscious way to accomplish this for most organizations is to lease a server to handle this connectivity via a collocation facility.
You can host the most successful teleconferences via a voice-over-IP (VoIP) connection, which is accomplished with a VoIP server box. This hardware is available either from your Internet provider or from your technology hardware provider business. It isn't critical that everyone calling into the teleconference has their own VoIP hardware at their sites. Again, you'll need to have VoIP hardware and software installed at all campuses of a corporation or university if teleconferencing is being set up for a multilocation organization with many participants at each site.
Sound System Components
Depending on the setup of your teleconference, you may need some type of sound system with speakers. If doing a teleconference with groups of people in different venues where multiple people will be in each room, you'll need to have a sound system for each venue so all participants can hear. An effective sound system for a teleconference will include a MIDI port with MIDI-controlled synthesizer, digital and analog audio inputs, low-noise audio mixer (software-controllable) and speakers.
For teleconferences in which each participant is in a separate location on their own computer, each participant who will be contributing to the conference will need a headset with a built-in microphone and mute capabilities to block ambient noise until someone is ready to speak. For participants who are only listening to the teleconference, a standard headset will do.
Beth Shumate is a freelance writer and full-time tourism communications manager whose over 25 years of writing experience includes news reporter, magazine contributor and software documentation writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Henderson State University in Arkansas, and proudly became a Texan in 1987.