You can now host your own conference calls more easily than ever before. Whether you’re working from home, own a small business, or just want to stay in touch with friends and family, there are dozens of free services available to you.
Between audio-teleconferencing, screen sharing, video calls, and text chat, we’ll cover some of the best options for you to get started with free conference calling. Most of the applications we’ll cover below provide support for mobile phones, landlines, and VoIP, which essentially means you can call using the internet.
We’re all familiar with Google, the 800lb gorilla, so it’s no wonder the tech giant provides a conference call solution. That being said, Hangouts is more than just conference calling. You can text, video, or audio conference from any device with a microphone and camera.
Getting started with Google Hangouts is as easy as signing up for a Gmail account. Once your account is setup, just sign in to begin using your new, free, powerful conferencing tool. You can have up to 25 people on a video or audio conference call and 150 people in a text chat.
Be advised, in order to text or video call using Google Hangouts, the party you’re trying to reach must also have a Gmail account. However, if you’re looking for audio-teleconferencing, simply register a phone number and you’re good to go. As long as you have a microphone you can call any landline or mobile phone from the device you’re using for free.
Skype is one of the most well-known conference calling solutions. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 and has since overhauled the user interface, features, and how the program runs on the back-end. There have been some security concerns in the past, but Skype is a powerful, easy to use tool.
Even if you’ve used Skype sometime in the past, you might be surprised by recent changes. You can use the web browser version or download the app on your computer or mobile device. Skype provides you with text, audio, and video conferencing solutions for free.
You can host a group video chat or conference call for up to 25 people, if they all have Skype already. If they don’t, you may call them using Skype Credit or sign up for a subscription. Alternatively, ask the user(s) you’re trying to reach to sign up for Skype for free, and then add them to your contacts.
If you’re looking for something a little more formal than Hangouts, yet still easy to use, UberConference delivers. Offering free phone and VoIP audio for up to 10 participants, UberConference provides unlimited conferences, screen and document sharing, and call recording. They boast about not using conference PINs. If you’ve ever tried connecting to a conference call and not known the PIN, you can understand why this is an attractive feature. When you sign up, you’re given a conference phone number that remains static.
Unfortunately, there is no video conferencing feature, but their easy-to-use interface makes this free tool a great option for small businesses. UberConference has apps available for desktop, iOS, and Android, as well as a Chrome extension. They claim all their features work in any browser, but recommend using Google Chrome.
You can pay for a business subscription that boosts your maximum participants to 100 for $10 a month billed annually, or $15 billed monthly. The business solution adds more tools such as a team management portal, custom hold music, international access, and no audio ads when joining a call.
There is a lot in a name. FreeConferenceCalling describes exactly what they do, and they do it well. What they lack in video and text capabilities they make up for in pure audio-teleconferencing ability. You can host up to 1,000 concurrent users on-demand, for free.
FreeConferenceCalling offers a web portal where you can manage your calls and users, view attendance, and listen to recordings of past calls. If you’re on the go, you can control the entire conference on your mobile device using the web portal or just the telephone keypad.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned product, FreeConferenceCall offers a similar set of strong features. It offers robust tools like calendar integration, meeting recording, and web controls.
FreeConferenceCall also offers screen sharing, video conferencing, remote desktop support, and boasts up to 1,000 concurrent users during any conference. You can personalize your meeting space, schedule one-time or repeat conferences, and upload documents for easy file sharing. Check out a full list of features, including premium membership, here.
If you need a conference calling solution with great calendar integration, Join.Me is one of your best options. You can take advantage of their 14-day free trial of their Pro Version. During the 14-day trial, you’ll enjoy free audio and video conferencing with screen sharing, quick and easy meeting scheduling with Outlook and Google calendar integration, and other powerful features.
After your 14-day trial, you’ll be limited to 3 users (1 organizer and 2 viewers). However, you can screen share, chat, and transfer files during any meeting. If you want more than 3 users at any given time, you’ll need to pay at least $10 a month per meeting organizer. The cost goes up as you add more organizers.
GoToMeeting Free offers unlimited online meetings, free VoIP calls, and screen sharing for up to 3 users (1 organizer and 2 viewers). Create an account and begin hosting unlimited conference calls online, for free, anytime. Although limited by the number of users, this product provides you with a quick solution for your conference calling needs with an easy to use Chrome extension.
If you sign up for their free 14-day trial, you get access to their Pro Version. The trial adds features like meeting recording, mouse and key sharing, drawing tools, and mobile apps. The drawing and key sharing can be extremely useful if your conference calls are more interactive. If you decide you like their product, you can check out their plans and subscriptions here.
iPhone and Android Conference Calls
If you need conference calling for just a few people and don’t care about apps or extra features, you can just use your iPhone or Android phone as an easy solution. Simply call your first participant, select “Add Call” on your mobile phone’s screen, call the next participant, select “Merge Call” on your mobile phone’s screen, and then add other calls as needed. The iPhone supports up to five callers (including you) and Android up to six, though your carrier might have a lower limit on the number of merged calls you can have.
Keep in mind that this solution does not offer any other features. You can’t control participation, use a management portal, schedule meetings, share your screen, and so on.
As you can see, conference calling can be obtained without paying a fortune. With all the competitors out there vying for your subscription, you can take your time finding the right product for you. Try a few and make your decision based on personal experience. Heck, try them all, they’re free!
Image Credit: dotshock/Shutterstock