Even with video chats, email, instant messaging, and phone calls dominating the work environment, conferencing, and especially video conferencing, is still the best option for group communication in businesses of all sizes.
Choosing the right conference calling service will depend on your requirements, budget and needs. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best free and premium conferencing services so you can make an informed decision.
Skype is a web-based communication tool that offers instant messaging, group video conferencing, video chat, document and picture sharing, screen sharing, and group chat.
The free version of Skype allows free online audio or video conference calls for up to 50 people.
Skype lets you chat for free with friends, family, business partners and customers from anywhere in the world.
Additional free features include:
- Sharing the screen of a mobile device or desktop.
- Record conversations and meetings.
- Drag and drop selected videos, files and documents up to 300MB into the chat window.
Skype is a possible alternative to Zoom for conferencing and can be useful for businesses that need to hold meetings in a virtual environment. One of the drawbacks is the lack of built-in language translation tools.
Sometimes Skype freezes. This can interfere with work if you are in the middle of a meeting and need to hang up and call again.
Microsoft Teams, formerly known as Skype for Business, is a chat-based collaboration and communication platform that makes teamwork easier.
It is a collaboration hub that now integrates with Office 365 Business and Enterprise accounts to combine video conferencing, instant messaging and document collaboration calls into an integrated app.
Other features of this conferencing service include:
- Integration with other Microsoft products to easily switch between video, voice and text chat, co-edit and share files and calendars.
- Create groups for multiple group chats called channels.
- Multi-threaded conversations that notify users of updates and flow from top to bottom.
Microsoft Teams is a highly customizable, feature-rich communications and conferencing platform for users who are already using Microsoft platforms and products.
UberConference is an easy-to-use conference calling service with basic calling functionality.
They offer both free and paid options. If you need basic small group calling features, UberConference is a good option. The free version includes:
- Up to ten members.
- Unlimited calls.
- Ability to share screen, access from mobile devices and record conference calls.
- HD audio and video quality.
The free version requires you to use a PIN to join the meeting. The paid version costs $ 15 per month, does not require a PIN, includes international access, and allows up to 100 members.
The recording function records only the audio portion of your web conference. In addition, the free features somewhat limit the number of people you can include in a conference call.
Zoom quickly became a popular conferencing service. It’s cloud-based, suitable for businesses of all sizes, and offers free and paid options. It will run on smartphones and desktops, and Zoom meeting is usually straightforward.
There are four levels of pricing and tariff plans. The first is free and includes:
- Calls up to 40 minutes long.
- Up to 100 participants.
- Web conferencing.
- HD video conferencing.
- Opportunities for group collaboration.
Zoom Pro starts at $ 14.99 / month per host. Other features include administrative control, 24-hour meetings, and cloud recording.
The business plan is priced at $ 19.99 / month per host along with additional features like ten host resolution, up to 300 members, company branding, and dedicated phone support.
Zoom Enterprise costs $ 19.99 / month per host. At this level, you can have up to 1000 members, unlimited cloud storage, and a dedicated customer support manager.
Zoom’s free plan attracts many more participants than its free conferencing counterparts. However, there have been serious concerns lately about Zoom’s security and privacy.
Vast Conference is a paid service from $ 11.99 per month. It offers a free 14-day trial to make sure it meets your conferencing needs.
Organize conferences on demand without scheduling meetings in advance. They offer four pricing plans starting at $ 11.99 per month.
Plan options vary in number of members:
- Essential: $ 11.99 per month (10).
- Standard: $ 15.99 / month (100).
- Professional: $ 31.99 / month (250).
- Enterprise: customized price (500).
All plans include cloud recording. It is unlimited for the top three tiers and is limited to 1GB of storage for the Essential plan.
Features include screen sharing, operator-assisted calls, audio recording, personalized greetings, and international coverage.
FreeConferenceCall has all the features and functions of larger and more expensive services for free.
Not only do you get free video conferencing and free screen sharing, but FreeConferenceCall also offers the following intuitive features:
- Add up to 1000 video participants.
- Record live audio and visual presentations.
- Private or public chat.
- Switch presenter mode including drawing tools.
Sign up for a free account and they will give you a connection number and access code. Your toll-free teleconference line is available 24/7 without the need to reserve a time.
RingCentral is a VoIP phone service and conferencing platform. In the free plan, you can include up to 100 participants and a maximum of 40 minutes per meeting.
RingCentral’s cost ranges from $ 19.99 per month to $ 49.99 per month per user. It also has a 30-day free trial, saving $ 10 per user per month when billed annually.
Hosted in the cloud, RingCentral:
- does not require any hardware installation.
- undertakes updates and maintenance.
- can save you money by combining meetings with corporate VoIP plans for business phones.
- Arrange a conference call on demand without planning ahead.
- Integrates with Microsoft Outlook.
- Offers local phone numbers in over 50 countries.
RingCentral tends to get more expensive when adding multiple users compared to other conferencing services.
Which conference calling service should I use?
Consider both your budget and your needs to determine which service is best. Some of the features to look out for are participant limits, recording capabilities, mobile ease of use, international access, call control, calling and integration tools.
Try the free services first to see if they work for you. If you find that you need more advanced features or other features, you can upgrade your current plan, find add-ons, or choose a different service.