Lync Online Conferencing with Intercall

Today I’ve had the opportunity to test the Lync Online Dial in conferencing solution provided by Intercall whilst at a customers site, this was my first time using any dial in conferencing solution with Lync Online so I was interested to see the management and user experience.

The management side is simple and well documented on the Intercall website, you just need to add the conference ID and access number to the profile of the Lync user via the Lync Online portal, I found that although it says that you can use () in the number it actually removes them, but if you use + it stays (which is good as I’m a firm believer in having numbers displayed in E.164)

Next it came to testing it with a user, I duly scheduled a conference call in Outlook and had the access code and number populated by the Lync meeting plugin, it would be nice if you could include a link to access numbers for difference regions to facilitate international users not incurring expenses calls. I joined the conference using my Lync client and waited for the dial in user, the experience for the dial in user was the same as most conferencing solutions, having been prompted for the passcode and name they were then connected to the Lync conference.

Two things I noticed was that each PSTN caller appeared as a separate attendee in the Lync meeting, which allowed for them to managed individually as you would any other participant and that the number presentation wasn’t correct (it was losing the 0) but that may have been due to using an American Intercall account and North American Lync tenant but dialling in from a UK mobile number, either way I would have expected the Intercall system to correctly manipulate the number based on the access number used.

Following the initial test I ran through a few more permutations and have noticed the following:

  • If external phone user dials into meeting, doesn’t authenticate as leader they will wait in lobby (as expected) until the meeting starts
  • When the leader logs in via the Lync meeting address the conference is connected with any audio users in the audio lobby, future audio users connect automatically.
  • If the Lync meeting is not configured with a Lobby then as long as a Lync user has joined the meeting (either as presenter or attendee) so that it is active an audio user can join in without needing the leader
  • If the Lync organiser/presenter quits or ends the Lync meeting the audio conference still continues, subsequent users can phone in and connect to any phone users still connected until last user disconnects, after which users dialling in reach the lobby
  • Lync presenters can remove and manage audio participants as they appear as unique meeting participant
  • If a leader logs in via the phone to the conference and authenticates users who phone in can hear but the Lync conference is not connected until it is started (either by the organiser or a user who can bypass the lobby)
  • If the meeting is started by a Lync attendee and has an audio caller join, if the Lync attendee leaves the meeting it will continue to run as an audio conference and another user can dial back into it without needing a leader, unless meeting is ended by a presenter
  • PSTN dial in works the same for scheduled and “Meet Now” meeting
  • Open Federation is required as without it the PSTN call can’t connect, I couldn’t find details on how you might be able to add an allowed domain for the PSTN callers.

Final Thoughts

Having no experience of the other solutions available (currently PGI and BT Conferencing) I can only say how I found the Intercall solution, which works well and is simple enough to set up but users need educating on Lync meeting security and how it operates with the PSTN dial in to minimise risk of abuse.

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