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What is a blended audio conferencing rate? How does Web 2.0 make it possible?

Traditionally users of audio conferencing were offered only one rate and very few features. They could use a toll-free dial-in number and a PIN. That was it. This is because even though audio conferencing is a mission critical business service, it was a side issue for AT&T historically. Consequently, they put no R&D money into it and it was managed by AT&T call centers.

Beginning in 1997, Leader started investiging the challenges of large-scale collaboration across the spectrum of needs from voice and streaming media to data. One spin off of this innovation was a burst of creativity related to audio conferencing. By integrating voice and data collaboration features, Leader enabled an array of new features and functions; one of those was the ability to point different kinds of wired and wireless access to the same conference call from any location.

Audio conferencing users can now select their rate based upon their need. For example, a state agency may wish to pay one bill each month for all their users and offer a wide variety of features to its users. In this circumstance a toll-free 800 rate works best. In another circumstance, a non-profit group may wish their participants to each pay the lion's share of the conference call expenses because they have no budget line item for such expenses. In this circumstance, a tolled rate using a local dial in number where each participant pays his or her long distance rate is desired. In yet another circumstance, to keep costs down, a political campaign may wish to give a toll-free 800 number to its campaign staff on a call while simultaneiously giving a tolled local dial-in number to the national press who want to dial in to the conference call.

Leader Phone® Customer Select™ offers a "blended rate" to allow customers more choice and convenience. All these features are made possible by the Leader Web 2.0 innovations.

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is a term developed as a part of a brainstorming session between Tim O'Reilly and MediaLive International in early 2004. It was an attempt to identify substance vs. hype following the dot-com collapse. It attempts to identify the substantive elements of the "bubble" that would (and have) survived to become important tools for enhanced collaboration.

How do Leader's inventions support the notion of Web 2.0?

Leader's inventions reach back into the late 1990's when most software developers were sipping margaritas and cashing in their stock options. Leader embraced many still prophetic ideas like XML and RDF to implement its inventions. This was during the time when the "browser wars" between Microsoft and Netscape were still raging. While most officiandos were mostly talking about convergence, Leader was inventing innovative new approaches for how to merge voice, streaming media and data into a common platform framework.

We read that you supported Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco's Hurricane Katrina disaster response with your voice and data services. The press widely reported that Louisiana's phone network failed after the storm. How was it possible for people to call in to Leader Phone®, Leader Alert® and Leader News®?

We get asked that a lot. The fact is, while Louisiana's phone network was crippled, it never actually failed. Some phones worked throughout the crisis. The reach of working cell towers was increased to allow more storm victims to report their locations, WiFi networks were set up so that those who had the technology could use Voice over IP, and regular phones worked for out-of-state calls. Phone systems are not designed to have everyone use them at once. The internal calling capability of Louisiana's switches was indeed overloaded as people were trying to contact love ones. However, each of these switches reserves a certain number of lines for calls out of their service areas. This is what Louisiana's officials relied upon to connect together using our Leader Phone® technology which is located in areas far away from the crisis zone. Our technology performed like a champ. Our engineers watched over our support of the Louisiana first responders and elected officials like mother hens.

What is technological convergence?

Communications technologies have historically been separate a distinct services that operated independently of each other with little or no cross-system integration. In other words, fax, voice, documents, files, video technologies did not talk to each other, at least not easily. It is also well known among technologists that software engineers and telecommunications engineers, for example, practice very different disciplines and rarely coordinated their developments. The concept of convergence is the concept of new technology designs that incorporate voice, streaming media and data development into the same systems. This is easier said than done. It requires much cross-over knowledge, as each of these technologies is a different discipline. Leader's inventions focused very intentionally on implementing convergence, not just talking about it.

Audio conferencing has been around a long time. What makes Leader Phone® unique?

Traditional audio conferencing was managed out of AT&T operator call centers. It was typically a side business that never got attention from and R&D perspective. It was cumbersome to set up and expensive. Leader's innovations somewhat inadvertently have created the first true innovations in the audio conferencing industry in decades. By combining voice, streaming media and data systems, Leader has created a Web 2.0 service that makes audio conferencing features much more accessible to a broader group of potential users at much less expense. Leader Phone® provides many new features that are data-phone converged such as direct dial, record, group dial and web call control. The sister product is Leader Dialog® which offers more conventional dial-in and PIN services with a twist - you pay Leader nothing and only pay your normal long distance charge. This product was developed in response to Leader's support of the State of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina when all sorts of first responders needed a way to collaborate but had not central budget to order up conference calls.

Leader Phone® is a web-initiated and web-managed conference calling system. It allows you to manage your individual account online, add new users under your account, and track call history as well as use numerous power features that let you drive your conference calls from the web or from your own phone. It allows you to provision calling PINs yourself. At 9.5¢ per minute per participants, customers find the service less expensive and more feature rich than comparable services by AT&T, MCI, and Sprint.

What is Leader Alert®? What differentiates it from other alert dissemination products?

Leader Alert® is a scaleable, two-way, rapid-deployment alert platform. It is designed to fill a critical gap in the Department of Homeland Security's plan for responding to terrorist threats by notifying key personnel in federal, state and local agencies the moment a threat is detected. It enables users to send pre-recorded or "on-the-fly" alerts to a few people or a few million people. In a single system it can handle both voice and data broadcasts. It has two-way capabilities. It can enable recipients to begin a conference call or web conference immediately to get more information about the alert. It differentiates itself in the marketplace by its salability and its capacity for two-way collaboration .

Leader Alert now supports a number of communities, schools, universities, airports and governments with their mission-critical alerting requirements. It has been proven in battle to be robust, scalable and dependable.

How does Leader Meeting™ compare to other web conferencing products like Webex?

Leader Meeting™ and Webex are similar in features and functions. One differentiator is that Leader Meeting™ is designed to work in tandem with Leader Phone®. In fact, the same participant PIN can be used for both services in situations where you wish to have a conference call and do an online presentation at the same time.

How can you offer Leader Dialog™ and not send me a bill?

Leader Dialog® was created originally to fill a homeland security first responder support need. People in the midst of a crisis needed a communications system capable of large scale collaboration with their communication tool of choice, the telephone. However, conventional audio conferencing requires a subscription and someone gets invoiced for the calls. That model does not work in an emergency. People who don't normally communicate together are forced to do so in a crisis. They need a tool. Leader Dialog® provides them dial-in numbers and PINs that they acquire at no charge. They can distribute that dial-in number and PIN to whomever they wish and start a conference call immediately. No subscription. No budget required. No prior experience needed. No operator needed. Leader has made special arrangements with sponsors who cover Leader's back office costs so that all each participant pays is his or her normal long distance charge.

The benefits of Leader Dialog® extend beyond homeland security. In fact, any organization with no central budget for audio conferencing can use Leader Dialog®, for example, community groups, churches, political organizations and educational institutions can all benefit from Leader Dialog®'s freedom to use PINs freely and manage conference calls.

Does Leader provide service level agreements?

Yes. If your organization wishes to have a central contract for Leader services, we will provide you with a Leader Service Provider Agreement that will specify levels of service, including such things as training, technical support and moderator services, if and when required.

What service commitments does Leader make to its customers.

We commit the highest level of service and response. The Leader services have been proven in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. We supported the entire State of Louisiana government response to Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. In fact, if you are ever dissatisfied with our service, we want you to drop us. We work to prove ourselves each and every day.

How do Leader's patented and patent pending inventions help me? Save me time? Save me money?

In numerous ways. Leader's inventions tackled some of the most difficult technological hurdles of the last several decades. This means that communications services that used to be separate and require unique learning curves for you, can now be combined into common user accounts and unified functions. This means you spend less time learning new systems. This saves you time, money and hassle in addition to offering you more convenient services.

If you have other questions, please contact support@leader.com

 
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