Understanding Free Conference Calls
Understanding Free Conference CallsWith all the free conference calls and free conference call services out there, why would anyone pay for conferencing anymore? Here are some things to seriously consider before using a free conference call service.
Is the free conference call really going to be free?Many free conference call providers do offer conference calls that are legitimately free. However, these conference calls require that all participants dial one of a limited number of toll (potentially long-distance) access numbers in order to join a call. Most of these numbers are currently from the Midwestern USA, so if your participants are not able to call these numbers as a local call, they will pay for every minute of the free conference call. Depending on your industry, making your callers pay for each minute of the call may be in poor taste.
In order to provide toll-free access to participants, the host of a free conference call pays about 10 cents per minute per participant. This is substantially higher than most standard (non-free) conference call providers' toll-free rates; ours begin at 3.7 cents per user per minute.
Will the free conference call support international users?Probably, but each international user will have to pay for long-distance access to the call. International long-distance without calling cards or dial-arounds can cost upward of several dollars per minute (an expense that will be billed to each caller individually).
Will the free conference call have the features that I need?The number of participants in a free conference call tends to be severely restricted, usually to no more than 100-150 callers. Conference recording may or may not be available. Conference management and account records may be difficult to access or unavailable. Free conference calls do not frequently include useful features like roll call, sidebar conversations (breakouts), or entry and exit announcements, and some may not include basic functionality like participant mute (essential to preserve call clarity) and conference lock (a must-have to keep your conference secure).
Will the free conference call service be available when I need it?Recently, free conference call providers across the country were blocked by several major carriers due to carrier billing conflicts. Is this something that you can risk when scheduling your conference call?
While free conference calls may work for some situations, it is in your business's best interest to retain a reliable conference call service provider who can offer you the full functionality to best serve your clients and preserve your company's image.
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