trends

A Beginner's Guide to Premium Telephone Conferencing

Marc Jarrett
In a sense, we are all newbies when it comes to premium telephone conferencing, not least since no such thing has existed — until now — with the advent of the innovative new ChatterWithMe service.

We are familiar with the concept of telephone conferencing. It is nothing new, and there are hundreds of conference providers out there who typically offer their services 'for free,' in return for a small kickback from the telephone networks who collect the money to make such calls from their subscribers.

Premium phone conferencing simply takes that concept one stage further: Participants need to call a premium-rate number to gain access to the conference, which is hosted by the "star of the show" — who pays nothing to use the service, simply by dialing in on an "800" number instead.

This "star" could be anyone that adds-value to the call: a porn star, a solo or cam girl or boy, or an existing phonesex operator. Such conferencing has many applications in mainstream, too.

In use, the host announces that he or she will be available by phone at a predetermined time and date in the future. This event is then announced on the host's website, together with a countdown clock, so that curious surfers can see exactly how much time is left until the conference, which also makes static websites come alive. The page advertising the event should also include a bookmark and social networking widget, so that the event can be both remembered and disseminated accordingly.

Shortly before the conference is due to start, the host logs in online so that he or she can control the conference from an Internet-enabled PC, and then dials into conference.

Obviously, if you have, say 50 callers dialing into an open conference at one time, it would be far too noisy and chaotic — it would only take one caller with, say a screaming child in the background to ruin the event for everyone.

To this end, callers that wish to speak to the host indicate their interest in doing so and are placed in a queue accordingly. Those who do not are the ideal kind of customer, since they are paying just to listen and not partake.

Callers are then connected one-to-one to and by the host, with all others (up to 599 callers) listening in.

And this is where it starts to get interesting. Since all participants are dialing in on a premium-rate number, there is some serious money to be made by hosts of such conferences – money which, rather conveniently, is collected by various phone companies around the world on the host's behalf, with no credit card needed.

Of course, such "party lines" are nothing new. As Steve Lightspeed pointed out on his board, conferencing is 'so eighties.' But that's exactly the point: It's tried and tested technology — and the web as we know it was not around back then.

Furthermore, the convergence of the Internet and conferencing technologies makes earning money with premium conferencing non-location critical. In other words, conferences can be held ad-hoc, anytime, and — unlike in the eighties — anywhere.

Given the globality of the Internet, premium-conference hosts can make money from all countries simply by promoting the relevant number and the corresponding time zone in that country.

Take for example the forthcoming conference to be hosted by the U.K.'s most prolific producer, porn legend Ben Dover. The event is also being marketed 'down under,' so that his fans in Australia and New Zealand can join in the fun, too.

Furthermore, such phone events could be used to upsell memberships to paysites. "You wanna actually SEE what her pussy looks like? Join today!"

Another possibility might include a cam-event with no sound — if surfers want to hear the action and tell the model what to do, they must call. Here, the telephone's role becomes that of a microphone, loudspeaker and billing mechanism. It might sound cliché, but with premium conferencing, the applications are limited only by the imagination. This is user-generated content, alive and kickin' — and such phone events can be promoted offline, too.

In countries that do not support premium-rate numbers, callers need to make a regular International Direct Dial (IDD) call to somewhere like the West African country of Sierra Leone. From there, the call is bounced to the Conferencing Bridge in Europe, even though the host might be in U.S. — this is globalization at its finest.

With IDD calls, since the revenue needs to be split between two phone companies rather than one (and he usually pays less anyway), the payouts are a fraction of what is offered with local or 'domestic' premium-rate numbers, which typically begin with the prefix "09." But, hey, money is money — and the world's a big place.

However, those of you hoping to make a quick buck with premium conferencing are going to be seriously disappointed. Due to the revenue collection and clearing procedures associated with premium-rate numbers, it can take up to 45 days from the end of the month in which a call was generated for it to turn into cold-hard cash.

Perhaps that's the bad news. However, the good news is that, on the assumption that you have been hosting attended conferences, you will receive regular monthly payments thereafter, all thanks to an essential recession-proof ubiquitous utility that everyone has access to — the telephone. Money does indeed talk.

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