There is a wealth of options available for group conferencing, and business owners can easily become overwhelmed by the special features, cost comparisons, and technological aspects. Below are three major applications used frequently by businesses both large and small; each has unique features to fit your individual needs and provide you with the ideal service.
Skype is best known for transitioning outside of the business world into personal use. Boasting free internet calls globally, the conference calling feature is often used to connect families with relatives overseas, or for a group of people to collaborate on an MMORPG or online gaming platform. For a fee, you can also make calls from a computer to a phone; prices vary by country, or you can choose an unlimited plan by region for $7.99 to $13.99 per month. Non-Skype members can join a call through a subscription or credit, both available through the website, where Skype can be downloaded at no cost. They offer group video chats for three to ten people, but other visual data solutions are limited. Aside from instant messaging and simple file transfers, Skype?s conference calling features are somewhat limited.
Unlike Skype, OnConference works over a telecom network. As opposed to VoIP (voice over internet protocol), this virtually guarantees solid sound quality and eliminates the chance of Wi-Fi hiccups causing an interruption. If meetings are at remote locations (outside cell range) or if conducting a meeting exclusively over your computer is not a priority, this may be a good option for you. Group conferencing is charged at a flat rate of 19 cents per minute per person. International callers can dial in at no cost to them using a local number. The chairperson incurs any international costs, which ranges from the standard 19 cents per minute to up to $1.89 for more remote locations. Access codes are permanent; instead of changing for each meeting, which eliminates the need for reservations. Up to 96 callers can attend a meeting. OnConference is the only service on this list with instant live support, accessed simply by pressing 0 during a meeting.
This service is focused exclusively on online meetings. Up to 15 people can attend a web conference, and like OnConference, desktop and slide sharing are available. Instead of paying by meeting, members pay a subscription rate for unlimited meetings, after a 30-day free trial. GoToMeeting gives the option of integrating phone lines, but they will not be able to participate in the visual aspects of the meeting. It is also the only service that claims compatibility with iPads, iPhones, Macs, PCs, and other smart phone devices such as the Android. Video conferencing is available as well, and certain types of meetings can be recorded on most platforms for later viewing. They offer different plans for certain services, ranging in price from $468 to more than $4000 per year for customized plans.