conference room

How to Make Your Conference Calls Better

If conference calling is a big part of your business, it may be time to upgrade to HD Voice from Afghan Wireless. Widely used by business leaders all over the world, HD Voice delivers twice the sound range of a standard call and is a leading choice for conference calls thanks to the improved clarity and superior sound quality that it offers.

However, whether or not your business is currently using HD Voice, there are still plenty of things you can do to ensure that your conference calls are both efficient and effective. Here are some of AWCC’s favorite conference-call tips for businesses:

Make sure the call is necessary.

e-mailConference calls can be an excellent business tool, but they are not always the right format for every conversation. Sometimes, several one-on-one calls or a focused e-mail exchange are more effective. In general, it’s best to save conference calls for situations that require in-depth dialogue or group brainstorming.

Prepare in advance.

To achieve an effective conference call, you need to first create a clear agenda and circulate it ahead of time. A pre-set agenda enables everyone to be on the same page when the call begins. It also ensures that people who will be expected to offer opinions or report on complex topics will have time to prepare what they want to say beforehand.

Invite the right people.

No one wants to feel like their time is being wasted on a conference call, so you should limit the call list to only those people who need to be on the call. If you have one or more key speakers whose presence is essential (for example, if your company CEO is planning to speak to senior staff at an overseas office), make sure to send them a reminder before the call so that other participants aren’t kept waiting.

Designate a leader.

A good conference call needs a clear leader who will help steer the conversation and keep all participants on track. While this person doesn’t necessarily need to be a company executive, he or she should be someone with a good sense of organization and authority. The leader should identify themselves to all other participants at the beginning of the call.

Be punctual.

clockPunctuality is even more important for a conference call than for an in-person meeting because you may need a few minutes to troubleshoot any technical difficulties. Dialing into the call a few minutes early gives all participants peace of mind and makes the best use of time by allowing the meeting to start promptly.

Use names.

Even though HD Voice makes it much easier to recognize individual speakers on a conference call, it’s still good etiquette to identify yourself when you make a contribution to the discussion, particularly if you haven’t spoken much during the call. Having everyone introduce themselves at the beginning of the call will help get everyone comfortable with each other and make it easier to match names with voices throughout the discussion.

Encourage participation.

A situation that is all too familiar to frequent conference callers is the dead silence that can follow a question or a request for feedback. Call leaders can avoid this pitfall by encouraging participation from the outset and by continuing to check in and engage all participants throughout the call. It can also help to call on people by name for specific answers or feedback rather than throwing out a general question or comment and waiting for someone to respond.

Stay focused.

Be sure to stick closely to the agenda. The surest way to lose the attention of call participants is to let the conversation wander into side topics or issues that aren’t strictly relevant to the matter you are discussing. An effective call leader should have no problem getting the call back on track if the conversation strays too far.

Keep it short.

meetingConference-call participants become less engaged the longer the conference goes on, so it helps to keep discussions brief and to the point. If some topics seem like they need more time, make a plan to discuss those issues later with the relevant people rather than having a lengthy three-person brainstorming session on a 20-person call.

Re-cap as you go.

Checking in with the group throughout the meeting helps to ensure that everyone is following and that there’s no disagreement or confusion about what has been said. Before moving on to a new topic, call leaders should restate what decision the group made or what action item the callers identified and ask if the participants have any questions.

Record the call.

If the call is likely to be particularly complex, or if it involves a large number of participants, it can be a good idea to record the call for reference in the case of future questions.

cell phone use

5 Reasons Why HD Voice Is Awesome for Businesses

Afghan businesses are loving the new HD Voice Service now available exclusively from Afghan Wireless. A digital innovation that’s becoming more and more widely used, HD Voice uses wideband audio technology to deliver more than twice the sound (or double the frequency) of a standard call. With HD Voice, even when someone is speaking to you from halfway around the world, it sounds like they’re right next door; and this sound quality is the same whether your call is a person-to-person conversation, a 12-person international conference call, or a speech-to-text recording.

That’s great news for businesses whose operations involve a lot of over-the-phone communication, whether locally or internationally. If your company is thinking about upgrading to HD Voice, here are five reasons to make the switch:

  1. Fatigue reduction

afghan phone user

Image courtesy Babak Fakhamzadeh | Flickr

The difficulty with narrowband, or standard, phone calls is that they have to clip sounds in order to make the call fit within the narrower sound range that they support. This means that when you’re on a standard phone call, you’re missing out on a significant range of word sounds and information. The result is that your brain has to work harder to fill in the gaps, and you need to concentrate more on context and other clues to figure out what the person you’re speaking to is saying.

This may not be a significant issue for short, infrequent calls, but for longer or repeated calls, it can cause serious mental fatigue. Customer service representatives who spend their days on the phone with clients can find themselves making mistakes because they have surpassed their concentration limits, and executives can miss critical pieces of business information on longer calls. The clarity of HD Voice helps reduce this level of fatigue, thus leading to greater productivity levels for everyone in your business.

  1. Better comprehension

Conversations that involve a lot of technical jargon, acronyms, or similar-sounding words can be hard to understand on a standard narrowband call. Callers are constantly having to ask for more explanation or for the other party to repeat words. Sometimes, people have to send information via e-mail when they can’t get their message across verbally.

The increased level of sound information that HD Voice provides greatly diminishes confusion arising from hard-to-understand words, thereby allowing information to be communicated accurately and effectively the first time around. This is a particular advantage for businesses, such as those in the legal, medical, or financial professions, whose operations involve a great deal of specialized terminology.

  1. Excellent conference-calling capabilities

HD Voice is quickly becoming the must-have technology for conference calls: business leaders around the world, including many Fortune 500 executives, are starting to insist on HD Voice as by far the most effective way to handle conferencing.

Not only does HD Voice offer greater clarity and better comprehension, it also makes it much easier to identify who is speaking due to the way it brings out the nuances of individual voices. This allows conversations to be more personal while they are in progress (no more guessing which of the 12 other people on the call is speaking at any given moment), and it reduces the possibility of mistakes or misunderstandings later on (for instance, if important information is sent to the wrong person following the call because the identity of the speaker was not clear).

  1. Improved multicultural communications

afghan phone user

Image courtesy Impassion Afghanistan | Flickr

Today’s global economy means that more companies than ever are conducting their business in more than one language. And while overseeing businesses transactions and directing negotiations in another language is challenging enough in person, it can be even more difficult during phone conversations, when key non-verbal information, like facial expressions or gestures, is not visible. In addition, the limited capability of standard narrowband calls often makes it difficult to interpret different accents or nuances in tone.

HD Voice helps bring greater clarity to calls involving non-native speakers, thereby allowing them to better understand other speakers and be more clearly understood themselves. This is particularly important when neither or none of the parties on a call are speaking in their first language. In this case, clarity of vocabulary, accents, and tone can make a huge difference.

  1. Greater transcription accuracy

When it comes to creating transcriptions, HD Voice is better at providing high-quality, raw information for processing by both humans and computers. That’s because the words are clearer, the sound information is more complete, and the sound quality is clearer and more detailed. These factors let human beings hear and understand a recording much more easily, which greatly reduces errors in speech-to-text processing that arise from misunderstood words or sounds.

Similarly, HD Voice will also improve other business activities that rely on automated speech recognition, like call-center management and routing systems that use interactive voice-response systems.

afghan wireless

7 Amazing Things You Need to Know about Afghan Wireless

afghanwirelesslogoEven if you’re an Afghan Wireless subscriber, chances are you don’t know everything about what makes Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications company so amazing. Read on for a list of seven things you don’t know, but probably should, about Afghan Wireless.

Nationwide coverage

Afghan Wireless truly is Afghanistan’s national wireless network. No other wireless company provides wireless communications services to all of Afghanistan’s provinces. Afghan Wireless has more than 5 million business and individual customers, located in 12,850 population centers throughout the country’s 34 provinces. To ensure that all these customers, even those located in the most remote regions, receive the best possible service, Afghan Wireless operates 1027 base stations and boasts additional transmission capacity to ensure that its network is fail-safe. To date, the company has invested more than 400,000,000 USD to develop its network and systems.

Global connections

global connection

Afghan Wireless currently has strategic partnerships in place with 425 other wireless carriers in 125 different countries around the world. This helps Afghan Wireless customers connect with family abroad; do business more easily with international clients, partners, and suppliers; and stay in touch with people at home when they travel. It’s one more way that Afghan Wireless works to fulfill its motto of “Connecting Afghanistan.”

Local employment

A proudly local company, Afghan Wireless is committed to helping build the future of Afghanistan by supporting Afghans with employment, skills development, and training opportunities. The company directly employs over 6,000 people, 99% of whom are Afghan citizens, and it is responsible for the generation of 100,000 additional jobs. Through partnerships with Afghanistan’s leading universities, colleges, and technical institutes, employees have the opportunity to earn post-secondary degrees and receive scholarships towards their accredited education programs. Professional development training programs are also an important part of the career path for Afghan Wireless workers.

The next generation of the Internet

Afghan Wireless has the distinction of being Afghanistan’s only completely IPv6 network. The latest version of the Internet Protocol—which enables traffic, communication, and connection via the Internet—IPv6 has increased available Internet address space to a virtually unlimited amount. It also offers an enhanced service quality that helps with the smooth functioning of new and next-generation applications like e-commerce, video and audio streaming, and IP telephony.

Mobile Money

With the goal of helping transform Afghans’ access to banking and other financial services, Afghan Wireless recently introduced its unique “My Money” mobile money program. Thanks to a fully integrated digital platform, this innovative mobile money network provides a robust and easily accessible range of mobile financial services to any customer with a mobile phone. My Money users can use their phones to send and receive money to and from family members, pay merchants, top up their mobile phone airtime with Afghan Wireless, and receive salary payments.

Great for businesses

office mobileCommitted to helping Afghan companies do business more effectively, both at home and internationally, Afghan Wireless offers a full range of products, services, and value-add features that have been specially designed to meet the needs of busy companies. Business subscribers can choose from a number of pre-paid and post-paid options, power their offices with Afghan Wireless’ Super Wi-Fi network, get the latest BlackBerry devices, and manage their international communications through services like pre-paid data roaming and international SMS plans.

Corporate social responsibility

Afghan Wireless is a long-time supporter of the Bayat Foundation, a charitable foundation established in 2005 by entrepreneur Ehsanollah Bayat, the founder of Afghan Wireless and its affiliates. With a mission to nourish the lives of all Afghans, the Bayat Foundation has sponsored hundreds of initiatives over the last decade, with a particular focus on the areas of health, education, and social development.

Some of the individual projects the Foundation has supported include the construction of 13 maternity hospitals, which have provided high-quality health care to more than 1.5 million mothers and their children; the digging of new water wells in a number of districts in Kabul to ensure access to clean and safe water for residents; and the donation of textbooks to several post-secondary institutions throughout the country, including Maimana University and Nangarhar University. In recognition of the valuable work undertaken by the Bayat Foundation, as well as his accomplishments with Afghan Wireless, Ehsan Bayat received the 2016 Alumni Achievement Award from his alma mater, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

money

A Look Back at Afghanistan’s Successful “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

During its heyday several years ago, it seemed like the hit television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” was everywhere. Dubbed by many the world’s most popular game show, the quiz-show-style program that pitted contestants against increasingly difficult trivia questions enjoyed a huge following in countries all around the world, and made the catchy phrase “Is that your final answer?” a household saying in dozens of languages.

Millionaire - Afghanistan

Image courtesy Wikipedia

In Afghanistan, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (WWTBAM) was more than just an entertaining program; it was also the inspiration for a unique collaborative partnership between two of the country’s most important telecommunications and media companies: Afghan Wireless and Ariana Television Network.

Five years ago, these two businesses joined forces to bring the Afghan version of WWTBAM to television viewers across Afghanistan, along with the special add-on of the “AWCC Millionaire SMS Challenge.” Read on for a look back at this remarkable initiative.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Afghan-style.

With WWTBAM fever sweeping the globe, Afghan Wireless and Ariana Television recognized that Afghan audiences deserved their own version of this hugely popular program. To make this happen, the two companies forged a unique partnership to create the show, find and audition contestants, and broadcast the program to viewers around the country.

August 2011 marked the debut of Afghanistan’s very own WWTBAM; over the course of a 13-week period, four episodes of the show were aired live on Ariana Television every week. To maximize inclusiveness, the show was broadcast in both Dari and Pashto: Dari episodes were hosted by Mustafa Sadat and aired on Saturday and Sunday evenings; Pashto episodes were hosted by Najiba Fais and aired on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Except for employees of Afghan Wireless and Ariana Television, any Afghan citizen over 18 years of age was eligible to apply to be a contestant on WWTBAM. Would-be millionaires completed a written test and then, if their test scores were high enough, they moved on to an audition interview. Together, Afghan Wireless and Ariana Television assembled a contestant pool of knowledgeable and dynamic individuals from all over Afghanistan.

What was the AWCC Millionaire SMS Challenge?

Millionaire - Afghanistan

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Held during the weekly broadcast of WWTBAM, the AWCC Millionaire SMS Challenge was a mini-contest for television viewers. Each episode of the show featured a special three-part segment: during the first commercial break, the WWTBAM host presented viewers with a trivia question similar to those featured on the program. Viewers had until the second commercial break to attempt to answer the question correctly via text message, and the answer was announced during that second break.

All that viewers needed to participate in the challenge was a mobile phone; using an SMS short-code, they could text in their answer to the contest’s central number and immediately receive an SMS confirmation. The first respondent to correctly answer the question was declared the challenge champion and announced as the winner on the next episode of WWTBAM.

Winners of the challenge received a free Afghan Wireless mobile phone, as well as a gift certificate worth US$100. In addition, all participants who answered the trivia question correctly received a congratulatory SMS message from Afghan Wireless inviting them to join the live studio audience during the next WWTBAM episode.

Why were WWTBAM and the AWCC Millionaire SMS Challenge a success?

The Afghan version of WWTBAM captured the imagination not only of Ariana Television viewers and Afghan Wireless customers, but of the nation as a whole. Seeing their own version, in both official languages, of a globally popular program was special enough for many viewers, helping them feel culturally connected to the rest of the world during what was still a tumultuous time for Afghanistan.

In addition, the participatory element introduced by the SMS Challenge added a whole new layer to the program, directly engaging viewers with what they were seeing on television and allowing them the chance not just to watch, but to also be part of the action. The SMS Challenge was also an important step forward in demonstrating for many Afghans the power of mobile technology in a fun and easy-to-understand way, showcasing how even the simplest mobile handset can link telecommunications users and customers with each other, with their cultural and entertainment influences, and with the wider world.

smartphone

Mobile Data Roaming – Acronyms You Need to Know

Now that Afghan Wireless has launched its great new prepaid data roaming service, which lets subscribers access the Internet on their mobile phones while travelling internationally, you may be encountering some new telecommunications terms and acronyms you haven’t seen before. Read on for a helpful guide to some of the most common acronyms used in mobile data roaming.

3G

Third Generation mobile network standards. Also frequently referred to as “mobile broadband,” 3G telecommunication networks support services that have a faster data transfer rate than previous network versions, typically at least 200 KB/second. This allows for better voice quality on calls, and it permits a host of applications, like video calls and video streaming, that rely on rapid data transfer. 3G technology employs standards that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) specifications created by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.

CAMEL

cell towerCustomized Applications for Mobile networks Enhanced Logic. Based on Intelligent Network standards, CAMEL is a set of standards that can be used on either GSM or 3G networks, and that allow for effective pre-paid services to be offered to roaming subscribers. For example, CAMEL lets users send and receive voice calls and SMS and MMS messages from abroad, and enables other features like no-prefix dialing, where the user dials the same number regardless of what country they are in when placing the call.

CDR

Call Detail Record. This is the written record of the origin, destination, time, date, and duration of a voice call or an SMS. Telecommunications partners must share this information with each other when subscribers use roaming services in order to ensure correct billing and settlement.

GPRS

General Packet Radio Service. This is a packet-based mobile data service—a type of service that provides IP capability to remote users via satellite—on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard. It was once commonly used by mobile phones accessing the Internet, but has now mainly been replaced by 3G.

HLR

Home Location Registers. These databases store customer profiles and communicate with Visiting Location Registers (VLR; see below) abroad to allow for subscriber roaming.

IOT

Inter Operator Tariff. When a roaming customer makes calls or uses data services on a visited network (the network of the local area in which they are traveling), the operator of the visited network charges a service fee, the IOT, to the customer’s home network operator.

IP

Internet Protocol. This is the system protocol that enables all Internet access and web-based services and applications. It is used together with 3G (or GPRS) data transfers.

KB

Kilobyte. A unit of measurement for data uploads and downloads. A kilobyte represents 1,000 bytes of data—that’s about the equivalent of two to three paragraphs of plain text.

MB

Megabyte. The next biggest measurement unit, one megabyte equals 1,000 KB, or close to 900 pages of plain text.

MMS

textingMultimedia Messaging Service. A standard of mobile messaging, MMS is an extension of the SMS protocol that allows users to send messages between mobile devices. The key feature of MMS messages is that they can include sound, images, or video as well as text.

MO

Mobile Originated. This term is used to describe any communication, whether a voice call, message, or data transfer, that a mobile phone initiates, as opposed to communications that originate on a landline or a desktop computer.

MT

Mobile Terminated. Similar to the term MO above, this term describes any communication that ends, or terminates, on a mobile phone. For example, if you receive an SMS message on your mobile phone, that is an MT message because your phone is the message’s termination point.

MTR

Mobile Termination Rate. Mobile operators charge this service fee whenever a call is terminated on their network.

PSD

Packet Switched Data. This is the term for data services that operate with a combination of 3G/GPRS and IP. Push e-mail, or e-mail that is accessed on a mobile device, is a common example of PSD services.

SMS

Short Message Service. This popular service allows short messages to be sent between mobile phones. Usually, these messages are simply called “texts” as they contain plain text only.

TAP

Transferred Account Procedure. This is the system under which partner operators can exchange roaming billing information (CDRs) concerning their customers; it provides a standard process framework for roaming operating partners to charge each other the correct and necessary fees for provision of networks and services to roaming customers.

VLR

Visiting Location Registers. These local databases temporarily store information about roaming customers. They then communicate with the HLRs of customers’ home networks; this is what allows roaming to take place.