Why can’t I connect to my conference call?

One of the most common service issues is that someone is not able to connect to your conference bridge. Why is that and what can we do to fix it? It’s a good question and we’ll try and explain.

Believe it or not, the most likely reason is the person calling in punched in the wrong conference ID number. At TurboBridge, our systems keep track of the action from each caller during a conference down to very minute detail. A caller will declare they’ve trying it multiple times to no avail and yes they’re punching in the right digits. Clearly something must be wrong with our systems? However, all too often when we check our log files, we can see each digit the user depressed and sure enough, they’re entering the wrong code number multiple times.

The reason for this is dialing memory. We think we did one thing, but our fingers did another. It’s a common mistake and it’s most acute where the conference ID has a repeating sequence of numbers (like 63373, the user might type 63733 repeatedly and insist they dialed correctly). We’re all human and these things happen.

Another reason is unfortunately not the fault of the user. We take today’s telephone network for granted. It just works. Or seems to at least. The reality is the phone network was built over 50 years ago and unfortunately suffers in terms of immense complexity and business rules that seem archaic in today’s world of the Internet. When you place a phone call from New York to TurboBridge, your call may go thru 20-30 different switches and 4-5 telephone companies before it lands into our data center.

If along the way, any of these 4-5 telephone companies has an issue, it may well impact the quality of your conference call. Worse, your phone call may go a different way each time you call depending upon traffic & time of day and to make it nearly impossible to fix, we have no idea how your phone call actually go to us.

The good news – this doesn’t happen too often and if you get a bad connection or our system refuses to recognize your conference ID (even if you dialed it correctly). Usually dialing back corrects the problem. But these problems can be nagging and difficult to troubleshoot.

For example, early last year, we noted that some callers had trouble reaching TurboBridge at a specific hour each day. We determined after a great deal of research that a circuit from the mother of all telephone companies, AT&T, was having some issue. We contacted AT&T and a very nice man in their service center told us there was no way the Great AT&T had any problems with their network and if they did, they would already know it since they’ve spent billions on sophisticated equipment to monitor it. Such is our life.

The problems continued and we called the nice man at AT&T every day with more detailed information. He remained quite nice but he failed to reason that AT&T could have a problem.

But we persisted and finally the very nice man at the AT&T service center said he would investigate if for nothing else so we’d stop calling them. After another day passed, the very nice man at AT&T contacted us and sheepishly informed us that they had found a circuit card in their network that was defective. This card was only briefly used each day during heavy traffic periods and for some reason they’re very expensive monitoring systems failed to realize it was broken.

This problem wasn’t just impacting little TurboBridge. No thousands of callers were impacted. But they obviously didn’t challenge AT&T like we did. The long answer was AT&T eventually replaced the card and big surprise, the problem went away.

At TurboBridge, we keen to provide an excellent service with excellent support and want to get to the root cause of any problem or issue, no matter how long it takes.