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Speaking in wideband

Teleconferencing sounds good – at last

What is claimed to be the first system of its kind to make use of wideband voice technology threatens to turn teleconferencing from a frustrating shouting match into a useful business tool.

Anyone who has ever participated in a teleconference will know it usually means a session of leaning across the table shouting into the mic "can you repeat that?" while the people on the other end sound as if they are using crackly walkie-talkies in a noisy bathroom.

The problem is that conventional phones use a narrowband frequency range from 300-3,300Hz, cutting out large portions of the human voice.

But Polycom's VTX 1000 uses wideband telephony, making use of the full 80-7,000Hz voice frequency. PC Advisor has heard the system in action and the sound quality is more like a Radio 4 announcer on your hi-fi than a conventional phone.

Of course, the conference works best when you have a VTX 1000 at both ends, but features like a pick-up radius of 20ft and automatic background noise reduction mean the system will still improve a conference call when the other parties are using non-wideband phones.

Naturally, such technology does not come cheap: the VTX 1000 costs £1,187 for one or £2,250 ex VAT for a pair. But maybe the cost could come out of next year's business travel budget.

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