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With the phone raised to my ear conversations are fine, but as soon as I put it on loudspeaker, there's a time lag.

The same goes for the phones in the conference rooms at work.

Why is this and can I fix it?

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What specifically lags? Your side of the conversation where the mic kicks in, or hearing the other end of the conversation? The former is how speaker phones work - they mute the microphone until it detects you speaking, so the first words get clipped a slight amount. –  bmike Oct 24 '12 at 13:11
    
Whoever is on loudspeaker seems to lag. Okay, maybe the first word is muted, but we always seem to end up speaking over one another. –  Vicky Oct 24 '12 at 13:38
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1 Answer

The main technical problem with most speaker phones is that they are not full duplex.

This means, that unlike a normal phone conversation, both parties cannot speak at the same time. To avoid feedback, the system mutes the microphone most of the time and instead tries to detect when you are about to speak.

When both parties are on speaker phones, this system works quite badly since the normal conversation queues of "mmmm, uh-huh, go on..." can cause it to cut the real conversation off at times.

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