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Thread: How does 3-way calling work?

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    How does 3-way calling work?

    When I start a call with someone, I can place them on hold and start another call, and then merge the 2 together. Since Iím the one that started the 3-way call, does the audio from one person goes through my phone first to get to the other persons, or are they all interconnected. If I was the person who merged the calls and I end the call, the call ends for everyone else too, so I feel like the audio would all be routed through my phone, but Iím not too sure. Also, is it different if I make a 3-way call on LTE vs CDMA?

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    How does 3-way calling work?

    Thatís an intriguing question. Sprint CDMA used to do three way calls and you would be disconnected somehow and then rejoin the three way by answering an incoming call and the parties would then be connected. This was a bit clunky and I think the carriers pretty much use the simpler merge join format nowadays though.

    I wouldnít mind knowing what the reason for dropping the conference after the initiator leaves. Itís probably hosted on the initiating persons network and therefore the person who initiates the three way call would be responsible for the billing. Maybe itís also to prevent abuse of folks daisy chaining people together. Hey you could connect two calls and hang up and have an infinite number running on the network. Those would be my guesses.

    It is probably a Cellular relic that will go away once everyone has unlimited plans and the networks all use the same tech.


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    How does 3-way calling work?

    Quote Originally Posted by techfranz View Post
    Thatís an intriguing question. Sprint CDMA used to do three way calls and you would be disconnected somehow and then rejoin the three way by answering an incoming call and the parties would then be connected. This was a bit clunky and I think the carriers pretty much use the simpler merge join format nowadays though.

    I wouldnít mind knowing what the reason for dropping the conference after the initiator leaves. Itís probably hosted on the initiating persons network and therefore the person who initiates the three way call would be responsible for the billing. Maybe itís also to prevent abuse of folks daisy chaining people together. Hey you could connect two calls and hang up and have an infinite number running on the network. Those would be my guesses.

    It is probably a Cellular relic that will go away once everyone has unlimited plans and the networks all use the same tech.


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    Thatís what I was thinking. I tested it out by calling my voicemail and playing my messages, and then added and merging a call to my Sprint line which would start recording a voicemail (and thus recording my main Verizon lineís voicemails.) At one point the audio quality glitched a bit and after listening to the message my Sprint line recorded, the glitch was also in the recording. So, it seems very likely that all audio is routed through the initiators phone, but I just want to confirm if this is true or not


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    Multi-way calling is a network feature and the calls each come together on the network and are not routed through one device. Think of them as a hub and spokes, where the network is the hub. CDMA can do 3-way calling, whereas GSM and VoLTE can do more than three parties in a conference. That said the originating party controls the call, so when they drop, the call ends for everyone.

    The CDMA system was modeled after the landline system, So it was 2 parties in addition to the originator, and there was no way to drop a single party, so you had to end the call for all. I believe this was also the case when adding the third party ó if third person didnít answer (or you got voicemail), you could press end the the original call would disconnect.

    in addition to allowing additional participants (beyond yourself and two others), VoLTE also let you hang up on someone you havenít yet added to the call and youíd be retuned to the other parties already joined together.

    Any audio glitches such as strange noises are heard by all, which explains why they recorded on the voicemail. But if the originator is in a spotty area where their speech is garbled/drops out, the other two parties should be able to converse with each other just fine. Of course if the bad location is transmitting static or other noises over the audio, those will be heard by the others.

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    One thing I noticed on Verizon CDMA was implementation was different based on market. Here in Tallahassee, it reminded me of the BellSouth way. Call the party, dial the second number, and then immediately join all calls. It was neat having the third line on as the phone was ringing. In Atlanta, I would have to wait for the third party to answer before I could join them all in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by high technology View Post
    Multi-way calling is a network feature and the calls each come together on the network and are not routed through one device. Think of them as a hub and spokes, where the network is the hub. CDMA can do 3-way calling, whereas GSM and VoLTE can do more than three parties in a conference. That said the originating party controls the call, so when they drop, the call ends for everyone.

    The CDMA system was modeled after the landline system, So it was 2 parties in addition to the originator, and there was no way to drop a single party, so you had to end the call for all. I believe this was also the case when adding the third party ó if third person didnít answer (or you got voicemail), you could press end the the original call would disconnect.

    in addition to allowing additional participants (beyond yourself and two others), VoLTE also let you hang up on someone you havenít yet added to the call and youíd be retuned to the other parties already joined together.

    Any audio glitches such as strange noises are heard by all, which explains why they recorded on the voicemail. But if the originator is in a spotty area where their speech is garbled/drops out, the other two parties should be able to converse with each other just fine. Of course if the bad location is transmitting static or other noises over the audio, those will be heard by the others.
    Thank you for the explanation. Do you know why audio glitches are heard by all? I would think that if the audio glitch/cut out was my fault (for being in a spotty coverage area), then it would not also be recorded on the voicemail


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    Quote Originally Posted by quint101 View Post
    One thing I noticed on Verizon CDMA was implementation was different based on market. Here in Tallahassee, it reminded me of the BellSouth way. Call the party, dial the second number, and then immediately join all calls. It was neat having the third line on as the phone was ringing. In Atlanta, I would have to wait for the third party to answer before I could join them all in.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    Thatís really interesting. In my market, the add call button on my iPhone is grayed out for about 10 seconds after initiating a call, then I have to wait till the 3rd person answers after clicking add call before I can merge them. Could you explain more what the BellSouth way is like? So basically you can be dialing the 3rd person while still talking to the person you originally dialed?


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    Quote Originally Posted by vanko987 View Post
    Thatís really interesting. In my market, the add call button on my iPhone is grayed out for about 10 seconds after initiating a call, then I have to wait till the 3rd person answers after clicking add call before I can merge them. Could you explain more what the BellSouth way is like? So basically you can be dialing the 3rd person while still talking to the person you originally dialed?


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    Exactly this.


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    Quote Originally Posted by quint101 View Post
    Exactly this.


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    Thatís cool. Does it still work like that today in Tallahassee?


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    Quote Originally Posted by vanko987 View Post
    Thank you for the explanation. Do you know why audio glitches are heard by all? I would think that if the audio glitch/cut out was my fault (for being in a spotty coverage area), then it would not also be recorded on the voicemail


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    That depends on what the glitch is. Not all glitches are drop outs (absence of sound), but some could be extraneous noises, echoes, etc. Those noises would be heard by the other parties, whereas drop outs would not (actually they will notice the drop outs, but that would be the absence of some of the sounds, rather than the addition of extraneous sounds).

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    Quote Originally Posted by vanko987 View Post
    Thatís cool. Does it still work like that today in Tallahassee?


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    I was able to confirm the click, dial, and click again method worked on my 1X only phone here in Tallahassee.

    On LTE, it is the regular way where the third party has to answer before you can merge the calls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vanko987 View Post
    Thatís cool. Does it still work like that today in Tallahassee?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    I was able to confirm the click, dial, and click again method worked on my 1X only prepaid phone here in Tallahassee.

    On LTE, it is the regular way where the third party has to answer before you can merge the calls.

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    When I ported in (probably around 2005), I had this card for 3-way call instructions. It had instructions for northeast, seperate instructions for this list of states like Ohio, Florida, etc., and a third set of instructions for midwest markets, with a note that if one set of instructions doesn't work, try the other ones. In short, at that point, they were getting their switches from 3 different vendors (perhaps simply because the predecessor companies bought from these 3...), the switch vendors had not standardized things like 3-way calling, and Verizon didn't really push for them to standardize it at that point either. Now, AFAIK, they do try to keep behavior more or less consistent but they do still buy from 3 different vendors (more recently it's also to keep any vendor from getting to complacent about pricing, adding features, or fixing bugs...), thus the little behavioral differences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwertz View Post
    When I ported in (probably around 2005), I had this card for 3-way call instructions. It had instructions for northeast, seperate instructions for this list of states like Ohio, Florida, etc., and a third set of instructions for midwest markets, with a note that if one set of instructions doesn't work, try the other ones. In short, at that point, they were getting their switches from 3 different vendors (perhaps simply because the predecessor companies bought from these 3...), the switch vendors had not standardized things like 3-way calling, and Verizon didn't really push for them to standardize it at that point either. Now, AFAIK, they do try to keep behavior more or less consistent but they do still buy from 3 different vendors (more recently it's also to keep any vendor from getting to complacent about pricing, adding features, or fixing bugs...), thus the little behavioral differences.
    Thatís actually really cool and informative! Do you know what three vendors they use?


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