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This blog is to share our expertise in Cisco UCM, UCCX/UCCE and Cisco Telepresence.

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CUCM On-Board Conferencing Options Overview and Restrictions

Cisco Unified Communications Manager has several native conferencing options. All of them are quite simple, “getting started” implementations. If you need more, you have to switch to one of full-featured conferencing platform described, for example, here, on Cisco’s website.

But in this post we’re going to review only on-board options shipped with CUCM.

Ad-Hoc Conference

Ad-hoc (also referred to as “instant”) conference is an impromptu conference that is not scheduled before. A point-to-point call may be escalated to an ad-hoc conference using Cisco IP phone, Cisco Jabber, or some 3rd party CTI application like attendant console.

The originator of the conference may add / remove participants, no other conference control features are available.

Meet-Me Conference

Meet-Me (also referred to as “permanent”) conferencing suggests that a range of directory numbers are allocated for exclusive use of the conference. The meet-me conference begins when the host connects. After that anyone who calls the conference number joins the conference.

Limitations:

  • the host must use a Cisco endpoint to start the conference,
  • no scheduling tool is available,
  • no authentication is available ,
  • no conference control options.

Conference Now Feature

The Conference Now feature is available on CUCM 11 and higher and is going to replace the Meet-Me option. It allows user to create their personal meeting rooms (with DN associated) protected with PIN. Anyone who calls the host’s meeting number is asked for the PIN to join the conference. The conference starts when the host joins the meeting, till that everyone receive MOH (Music On Hold) provided by basic IVR implemented in CUCM 11.

Limitations:

  • no scheduling tool,
  • the PIN is managed by host and is not generated automatically,
  • no participants list is available for the host,
  • no conference control options.

Conference Bridges

All CUCM conferencing options use the conference bridge configured in CUCM.

Software conference bridge

The CUCM software conference bridge is available out of the box and only supports G.711 codec (ALaw & ULaw). If there is a codec mismatch between the calling device and the software conference bridge, a transcoder is needed.

The software conference bridge can handle up to 128 audio streams (48 if the Cisco IP Voice Media Streaming Application service runs on the same server as the Cisco CallManager service) and supports max 100 conferences per CUCM server.

Hardware conference bridges

To obtain the transcoding feature and increase the capacity of conferencing resources you need to switch to hardware conference bridge.

For example, Cisco 1700, Cisco 2600, Cisco 2600XM, Cisco 2800, Cisco 3600, Cisco 3700, and Cisco 3800 series voice gateway routers (DSP modules are required) provide conferencing and transcoding capabilities for Cisco Unified Communications Manager.