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The Best Conference Call Services of 2021

By
Kiely Kuligowski
,
business.com Staff
| Updated
Aug 30, 2021

Which conference call service is right for your business in 2021? We review the top-rated services.
Best Overall Service
Visit Site
Supports both call types
Accommodates up to 500 callers
Multiple price plans available
Best Free Service
FreeConferenceCall.com
Ideal for budget-conscious SMBs
Accommodates up to 1,000 callers
Reservationless
Best Within a Phone System
RingCentral
Offers flexible options
Accommodates up to 1,000 callers
Reservationless
Best for Remote Workforces
Webex
Hybrid system
Supports up to 100,000 callers
Free plan available
Which conference call service is right for your business in 2021? We review the top-rated services.
Updated 08/30/21

This page has been updated to include information about a new FreeConferenceCall.com service Huddle.Team that prioritizes remote, digital teamwork.

 

With remote teams becoming increasingly common in businesses across the world, conference calling has become a vital part of modern business. There are many different options available in 2020, all with different features and benefits. We researched dozens of services and analyzed several factors, including pricing, types of services offered (reservationless or operator-assisted) and included features. In addition to our best pick selections, we cover how much you can expect to pay for a conference call service, the features they generally include and things you should consider when shopping for a conference call service.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
28
Considered
17
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Vast Conference FreeConferenceCall.com RingCentral Webex
Type (Reservationless, Operator-Assisted, Hybrid) Reservationless and Operator-Assisted Reservationless Reservation-less Hybrid
Number of callers Up to 500 Up to 1,000 Up to 1,000 Up to 1,000
Mobile app? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Reviews

Vast Conference: Best Overall Conference Calling Service

Visit Site

Vast Conference is our pick for the best overall conference call service because it offers everything a business would want in a conference calling service. You can choose reservationless or operator-assisted services, there are multiple cost structures based on how often you use the service, and it offers a wide selection of valuable features.

The reservationless service allows you to host conference calls at any time without scheduling them in advance. This option easily hosts up to 500 callers (and you can increase it by alerting Vast Conference to your needs). It offers customizable greeting options and includes call recording for no added cost. Hosts can control these meetings from their phone or the service's online portal.

The reservationless service is available in both monthly and pay-as-you-go pricing plans. The monthly plans allow you to host as many calls as you want each month. The plans, which range between $15 and $40 per month, vary in the number of participants that can be on each call and cloud recording space. The pay-as-you-go plan supports up to 500 callers and costs 3.5 cents per caller, per minute.

You can add callers into a meeting as it is going on by dialing out to them, and it’s easy to turn the meeting into a video conference so participants can see each other and view presentations or documents via screen sharing.

For those looking to host larger and more formal conference calls, the operator-assisted service may be a better fit. This option can host calls with up to 6,000 attendees and provides a dedicated operator who helps you plan the call before it takes place, greets callers as they join in and remains in the meeting to handle any questions or conduct Q&A sessions.

The operator-assisted service costs 16 cents per caller, per minute for a standard event and 19 cents per caller, per minute for a premium event.

Regardless of the service you choose, there are no contracts with Vast Conference, so you can cancel at any time.

Read Vast Conference Review

FreeConferenceCall.com: Best Free Conference Call Service

Reservationless service supports meetings with up to 1,000 callers at a time.
Features include web management, call recording and calendar integration.
Operator-assisted meetings are not available.

FreeConferenceCall.com is our choice for the best free conference calling service because it provides a robust service for no cost. The reservationless service, which supports up to 1,000 callers at one time, includes many of the features businesses need in a conference call service, such as web management, call recording and calendar integrations.

While you always have the option to use the service for free, FreeConferenceCall.com suggests a monthly donation for those who can afford it. The website gives you the option of paying $4, the suggested amount; $6, the average amount; or $15, the market rate. You can also donate your own custom amount. If you can't (or don't want to) pay, the service will remain free.

In addition to traditional audio conference calls, FreeConferenceCall.com allows you to host online meetings for no cost. This gives attendees the chance to meet face to face (virtually, at least) and view presentations or documents via desktop sharing.

FreeConferenceCall.com has a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, offers international calling options, and provides excellent customer support. If you need to host meetings with more than 1,000 attendees, you can contact FreeConferenceCall.com's large meeting services to arrange that. FreeConferenceCall.com does not offer operator-assisted conference call services.

June 2021: New desktop and mobile apps were recently unveiled by FreeConferenceCall.com. The new desktop app allows for improved screen sharing, the option to place callers in a waiting room before entering a meeting, and the option to turn off entry and exit notifications. The updated mobile app includes a new streamlined layout, an enhanced meeting lobby and easier access to virtual phone service.

August 2021: FreeConferenceCall.com recently added a new premium service to its platform: Huddle.Team.It offers users a new and improved way to help teams communicate. Not only does Huddle.Team provides higher quality unlimited audio and video, but also the ability to screen share with co-annotations, automated text reminders and customized hold music options. A Huddle call can hold up to 1,000 team members, too, making it a great solution for both smaller and larger teams. This service costs $7 per month for the basic plan, and $15 per month with the virtual phone service that allows for unlimited calling and texting to any number in the U.S.

Read FreeConferenceCall.com Review

RingCentral: Best Conference Call Service Within a Phone System

This cloud-hosted business phone system requires no special equipment or wiring.
RingCentral offers an array of calling, collaboration and mobile features.
Audio and video conferencing are not included in the cheapest service plan.

RingCentral is our choice for the best conference call service within a phone system because of its support for up to 1,000 callers at a time, which is far and above what many other phone systems offer. With RingCentral, each user has access to their own conference bridge, which can host unlimited conference calls with up to 1,000 participants. This is a reservationless service, which means users can host audio meetings without scheduling them in advance. The RingCentral mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, makes it simple to join conference calls. With the app, you can quickly tap a button to connect to the call without having to dial in to the conference and enter a PIN.

The conference call service is just one aspect of RingCentral that makes it a useful business phone system. RingCentral is a cloud-hosted unified communications system that is also our choice for the best business phone service.

RingCentral has all of the calling and mobile collaboration features businesses look for in a phone system. Some of the more valuable features are voicemail, voicemail transcription, auto-attendants, call queues, softphones, call screening and instant messaging. It also includes HD video conferencing services.

RingCentral is available in four plans that range from $29.99 to $59.99 per user, per month. Prices drop by $10 per user if you pay annually. There is a 30-day free trial period.

Customer support is available by phone 24/7. In addition, the RingCentral website is filled with helpful training materials, including user guides, FAQs, videos and whitepapers.

July 2021: RingCentral recently unveiled updates to RingCentral Rooms, a service that allows lets users connect and collaborate from remote or in-office locations. Such capabilities include a voice-activated control that allows users to start and join meetings via a touchless experience, as well as control meetings from their smartphones and tablets. The update also allows for compatibility with Logitech Rally and Windows devices.

Read RingCentral Review

Webex: Best Conference Call Service for Remote Workforces

WebEx gives users two platforms in one. WebEx Meetings allows for video conferencing, while WebEx Teams allows for internal collaboration.
No restrictions on meeting length on the free plan.
Limited customer support options with some service plans.

Although this isn't strictly a conference call service, its flexibility to let participants join meetings by phone, combined with its robust web conference services, make it our top choice as the best conference calling system for businesses with a remote workforce.

The service is really a hybrid of web conferencing and conference calling services. The option to attend by phone opens meetings up to those who aren't always sitting in front of their computer.

The system features many valuable tools, including call recording and a call-me feature that automatically calls meeting participants at the time of the call. WebEx also allows the host to view a list of all the meeting's participants and pass along presenter controls so that participants can present ideas, plans and strategies to attendees.

What makes Webex ideal for remote teams is its Webex Teams platform, which comes included for all users. This is a digital workspace that includes group messaging, file sharing and HD video for online meetings.

Webex is available in four pricing plans. Plans vary based on the number of participants that can join a meeting, the amount of cloud storage space and the level of customer support needed. There is a free plan in which users can host conferences with up to 100 participants. It includes a wide range of features and doesn't restrict how long meetings can last. The Starter plan is $14.95 per host per month, while the Business plan is $29.95 per host per month. There is a 10% discount for paying annually. Pricing for the enterprise plan is customized for each business.

Webex offers customer support by phone and live chat. In addition, the website includes a number of helpful materials, including training guides and how-to videos.

May 2021: Webex recently unveiled a new integration with the cloud-based content management platform Box. With this new connection between the two platforms, Webex users can securely access and share content via Box folders. This new integration adds to Webex's ability to serve remote teams.

February 2021: To help meetings run a bit more smoothly, Webex has added some new host controls to its platform. Hosts can now quickly send notifications to participants who are trying to speak while on mute. This prevents the need for others in the meeting to alert the silenced speaker that they are still on mute. Additionally, the platform now allows meeting hosts to quickly and easily transfer the host controls to another user should they need to leave.

January 2021: Webex recently announced a host of new features it is adding to its platform in 2021. This includes in-meeting gestures for those using the video functionality. When someone gives a gesture, such as a thumbs-up, the platform recognizes that and automatically translates that to a thumbs-up graphic on your screen for others to see. Immersive sharing is another new feature. This allows users to share presentations, videos or applications as a dynamic background with their video overlayed.

Read Webex Review

Pricing

Pricing varies by provider; most conference calling services use one of two main cost structures: pay as you go and unlimited monthly.

With pay-as-you-go plans, there is a per-minute fee for each person on a call. For a reservationless service, fees typically range from 2 to 10 cents per minute, per person. For example, a 30-minute call with 10 participants would likely cost $6 to $30.

Operator-assisted services are more expensive. These calls cost 15 to 30 cents per minute, per caller. So, for example, a 30-minute call with 200 participants would cost between $900 and $1,800.

With unlimited plans, you pay a monthly fee and can host as many calls as you want for as long as you want. Fees for unlimited plans range from $7 to $60 per month.

Some providers charge extra fees for things such as toll-free calling, call recording and transcription services.

Many providers have set prices, so there isn't a lot of room for negotiation. However, there are some questions you can ask to ensure you are getting a fair price.

  • Ask if the service offers discounts if you agree to a long-term contract. Some providers discount their rates if you agree to pay annually, instead of month to month.
  • If you're a midsized or large business, see if the provider offers discounts for businesses that have a high call volume.
  • Ask if the provider will match the price of one of its less-expensive competitors.  

While many providers don't require you to sign a contract, if yours does, read the contract and verify that it has everything you agreed to and doesn't include any price increases after an extended period of time. It is also important to know how to cancel your service if you need to and if there are any costs to do so. There are several free conference call providers, though they may offer fewer features and services than paid plans.

Free Conference Call Services vs. Paid Services

Free conference call services are a budget-friendly way to communicate with clients and employees, and although free services tend to provide fewer features than paid services, there are plenty of free services that get the job done.

If you are looking to save money by choosing a free service, determine which features are must-haves. Most free services offer basic features that let you conduct conference calls without difficulty, but you may find yourself wishing you had the ability to host more callers or save call transcripts.

Free conference call services are just as safe and secure as paid plans; the only difference is that paid plans provide more features and support more call participants. Another difference you can expect to find is that you will likely have to listen to at least one ad when using a free service.

Buying Guide

Types of Conference Call Services

While many of today's unified communications and business phone systems include audio conferencing services, you can sign up for a separate conference calling service in conjunction with your phone system.

With these add-on services, you are typically provided a local or toll-free phone number you and attendees call to access the conference line. Each caller is then prompted for a host or participant access code. Depending on how you set up the service, participants are either placed immediately in the meeting room or put on hold until the meeting's host starts the call.

There are two separate types of conference call services: reservationless and operator-assisted.

Reservationless

Reservationless services are used for your everyday conferences and meetings. These calls can be planned in advance or held instantaneously. Your conference line is free to use 24/7.

Reservationless service generally includes features like call recording, the ability to manage calls online, options to dial out to attendees once a meeting has started, and a "call-me" tool that dials participants when the meeting is set to start.

Additionally, many reservationless conference call providers include the ability to host web meetings for no added cost. This allows for virtual face-to-face meetings via HD video, where you can share screens, which can helpful when making presentations or discussing documents.

The benefit of a reservationless service is that it is simple to use and available whenever you need it. Need to host an impromptu conference call? The conference line is ready to go. These services are also very cost-friendly; some are available for free. Those that aren't free typically offer unlimited monthly plans, which allow you to host unlimited conference calls each month for a flat fee, or pay-as-you-go options that charge you for each call based on how long it is and how many people are attending.

The biggest downside to reservationless services is that the host bears the responsibility of planning and running the call. An extra set of hands can be helpful in some situations, which is why businesses may prefer operator-assisted conference call services in some instances.

Operator-assisted

Operator-assisted services are generally used for more formal meetings, such as an investor call, and can accommodate thousands of callers at a time.

This type of service provides you with a dedicated operator to assist you before, during and after the call. Before the call, they help you plan the meeting and send out invitations. During the call, they greet callers and manage speakers and Q&A sessions. After the call, they provide you with participant lists, recordings and transcriptions.

With the added help provided by an operator, the host can focus on the presentation itself rather than being distracted by all the tasks that go with hosting a call, like monitoring who is in attendance.

Operated-assisted calls need to be planned in advance. This isn't the type of call you conduct at the last minute. These services are much more expensive than a reservationless service as well. Costs for operator-assisted services start at about 15 cents per caller, per minute. Depending on how many attendees you have, the costs could add up quickly.

Benefits of Using a Conference Call Service

Communication and collaboration – whether with customers or colleagues – are key components of any successful business in 2020, and conference calling services help facilitate these tasks. Whether it's for an impromptu brainstorming session or a formal presentation, conference calls mean dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people from anywhere around the world can be on one call at the same time.

Conference call services offer the following benefits for dispersed teams:

  • Ease of use. Conference call services provide the easiest way to connect with multiple people at once in real time. An in-person meeting requires everyone to be in the same location, but a web conference requires people to be in front of their computer. However, a conference call only requires attendees to be near a phone. Reservationless conference call services make it simple to set up and run an audio meeting efficiently. You can quickly send an email invitation that gives your attendees everything they need to join the call: the date, time, dial-in number and access number or PIN.

  • Integration with other apps. Many services integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and other calendar programs. You can quickly schedule a call straight from Outlook. Once the meeting is scheduled, it is automatically added to your digital calendar. This also reminds your attendees not to forget the meeting.

  • Improved communication. When run successfully, conference calls can greatly improve your business's communication. If you're relying solely on long, drawn-out email chains, important details can get lost in the shuffle. In contrast, conference calls give multiple employees (or several employees and customers) a quick and efficient way to complete tasks and answer questions, making sure everyone is on the same page in a quick and timely manner. In addition, important feedback and discussion can take hours, or days, on an email chain; on a conference call, it can be taken care of in a half-hour.

Convenience, increased productivity and reduced costs are among the top reasons organizations adopt conference calling. Research shows that 70% of employees prefer conference call services for their convenience and ease of use. In addition, 96% of remote workers believe access to conference calling improves productivity because it easily allows for increased collaboration.

How to Choose a Conference Call Service

When searching for a conference call service, there are various factors you'll want to consider. First and foremost, you want to ensure the provider you choose offers services that fit your needs. Among the specific factors you need to consider are:

  • Ease of use: Your conference call service should be easy to use for everyone in your company as well as everyone you are conferencing with. You should be able to schedule a call, invite participants, and use basic features like call recording without difficulty.

  • Call quality: If there is a free trial offered, use it to determine the call quality. Does the sound come through clearly? Is there any lag time? Is your connection stable throughout the call? If you're using video conferencing, assess the video quality, sound quality, and lag time.

  • Security: As more businesses use conferencing to conduct meetings, security has become imperative. When looking for a conference call service, determine what security measures come with your plan. Can you lock meetings with a password? Is the meeting coordinator able to grant or deny individual users access to meetings? Are your call recordings kept confidential?
  • Number of callers: How many callers can the service support at one time? Some can support dozens, others hundreds, and others thousands. Make sure the service you select can host the number of callers you may need on a call at any given time.

  • Call controls: Some services allow the host to control the meeting by phone, and others allow the conference call to be managed online. These controls let the host know who is on the call, mute callers to eliminate background noise, start and end recordings, and lock the call so no one else can enter the room.

  • Call recording: Most services offer call recording. Some include it in the cost, while others charge extra for it. In addition, some allow for playback online, while others make you download the recording before listening to it. Many services also offer transcription services.

  • Dial out: Some services allow you to dial out during a conference call to add more people to the meeting while it is in progress.

  • Call me: Instead of requiring meeting participants to dial in to each conference call, some services give you the option of having the system automatically call them when the meeting is ready to begin. This frees you up from having to remember the dial-in and access numbers.

  • International conference calls: If you plan on hosting meetings with participants from outside the U.S., make sure the conference call service offers international numbers. Many services offer local and toll-free numbers in countries around the world.

  • Mobile app: Some services have their own conference call mobile app for both iPhone and Android phones, making it easy for hosts and participants to join conference calls when they're out of the office.

  • Integrations: Many services integrate with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar. These integrations make it simple to send out conference call invites.

  • Video conferencing: Some conference call services include web conferencing, which features HD video at no additional cost. With this, you can host online meetings that allow everyone to see each other via video webcams. It also opens up the ability for screen sharing, which is beneficial when conducting a presentation or discussing a specific document.

  • Customer support: Is it easy to reach support when an issue arises? Some services have features that connect you with support team members during your calls should a problem arise.

  • Free trial: Many services allow you to test the service for a few days or weeks to ensure it meets all your needs.
  • Call quality: Most services have dedicated efforts to making call quality as clear as possible, but you can also improve call quality by wearing a headset, muting yourself when you are not speaking, and ensuring you have a strong internet connection.

  • Hold music: Many services provide the option to include hold music that plays while participants are on hold or are waiting to join the call. There are typically multiple choices of music to choose from.

  • Custom greeting: You can record a custom greeting that plays as new guests join the call.

  • Presentation tools: You can choose a service that offers tools for a seamless presentation experience, including screen sharing, drawing tools, presentation slides and document sharing.

  • Security: Security is important, especially when you're on sensitive calls. Many services provide security measures such as encrypted meetings and passwords.

 

Community Experts on Conference Call Services

We spoke to several small business owners about which conference call service their company uses, what they like and don't like about it, and their opinion of the provider's customer service.

Bruce Hogan, CEO of Software Pundit, is a fan of UberConference because of its ease of use.

 "The company offers a free plan and a $15 per-month plan that is still quite affordable. It has useful integrations like Slack and Hubspot," said Hogan. "The only major downside of the tool is that its free plan is pretty limited in features and functionality. Their customer support is very attentive."

UberConference is also the service of choice for Ian Kelly, vice president of operations for NuLeaf Naturals.

 "We've been fond of UberConference for years [because] it doesn't require a lot of tech savvy, so it's quick and easy to use both internally and externally," Kelly said. "It's easy on the budget, easy to use, and it gets the job done. We tried other providers, but for the price and features, UberConference fits the bill."

Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP, prefers RingCentral for their conference call services.

"What I like most about RingCentral is its reliability and enterprise-grade security," Yonatan said. "There isn't much I don't like about RingCentral, but if I had to choose, I would say the fact that it lacks direct Linux support."

Phone Systems With Conference Calling

Depending on the phone system you have, you might not need a separate conference call service. Most phone systems have some sort of built-in conferencing service. However, you need to determine whether the phone system's built-in conference bridge can support your needs. Some systems can only host conference calls with just a handful of participants, while others can support hundreds.

Among the business phone systems and business VoIP phone systems we reviewed, 8x8Nextiva and Grasshopper support fewer than 20 participants for each conference call. On the other hand, AvayaRingCentral and Phone.com support more than 50.

Besides the number of callers these built-in conferencing systems can support, most offer many of the same features as dedicated conference calling services, such as call recording and web controls.

Web Conferencing With Conference Calling

While some conference calling services also offer web conferencing, most allow you to connect to meetings via phone. Depending on your needs, a web conferencing service that allows remote attendees to join by phone could be a good fit. This gives you the flexibility to have web conferencing, which allows participants to see each other by video and participate with screen sharing and conference calling in one service.

Nearly all of the web conferencing services we reviewed allow participants to join meetings either online or by phone.  

Related Services: Webinars

Webinars are an important business tool that allow companies to find new customers, educate current clients and strengthen their customer service. With a webinar service, it's easy to create and share a PowerPoint presentation or conduct a live demonstration.

Attendees typically join a webinar or online meeting from a browser or mobile device without downloads or complicated codes. With many services, you can present from a mobile device.

Webinar software has three main feature categories: presenter tools, moderator options and webinar features. These focus primarily on the attendee experience, including security, integrations and needed downloads (if any) before they attend your webinar.

Integration with Outlook is a great convenience – you can invite, remind and schedule webinars straight from your email platform. Social media integration makes it easy to invite people at large, share webinars and have attendees promote for you. The best services also offer encryption and passwords for security.

With archiving, you can save recorded webinars and share links if you don't want to transfer files to your own website, though most services allow you to download the recordings as well. Most webinar services have limited editing software, usually just for cutting out sections. With this limited editing ability, you can remove dead time and off-topic questions for a higher-quality final product.

When searching for webinar services, there are several features and tools to look for. These include:

  • Monetization options: For businesses that use webinars for marketing and revenue, monetization features play an important role. Some services have lead-generation tools that go beyond simply asking questions during the registration or survey process. Also, some services, such as GoToWebinar, integrate with customer relationship management software so your sales representatives can follow up with attendees interested in your company or service. A logout redirect lets you send attendees to a URL of your choice after logout, such as a survey, a buy link or a webpage with more information about your product.

  • Host management: Webinars are meant to be responsive to the audience, so it's useful for presenters to see their planned slides before they post it for attendees to see. This allows presenters to adapt the presentation to the audience.

  • Dial-in: All services have VoIP capability and webcam functionality, but being able to handle dial-ins as well is a plus. Making sure attendees can at least hear a presentation when they are not in front of their computer is definitely a plus.

  • Screen sharing: Most every webinar service allows for screen sharing and loading of documents, such as PowerPoint slides, into a webinar "library" for use in the webcast itself. Some services let you share individual applications so you don't reveal your entire computer screen to attendees. This feature not only makes sharing more convenient but also adds a layer of security to the webinar.

  • Recording: A service that allows you to record the entire presentation is beneficial for sharing it with those who were unable to attend as well as for the host to review to see where changes can be made.

Other valuable features many webinar services offer include analytics and reporting, drawing tools, email automation, and the ability to take polls and surveys and conduct Q&As.

Among some of the more popular and reputable webinar services include Webex, Onstream, Webinato and ClickWebinar.

Related Services: Webcasting

Webcasting lets you live stream anything from company seminars to press conferences. Using webcasting software, you can increase brand recognition and promote your company to a wide audience.

Webcasting services have great recording and editing capabilities, and have become more mobile-friendly so that your listeners can view your material from any web-enabled device. This makes webcasting more on demand and user-friendly than webinar or web conferencing services that tend to be geared toward smaller and more defined audiences.

A successful webcast depends on the basics. Webcasts should be able to accommodate hundreds of attendees with the ability to expand to thousands if needed The fewer downloads needed, the easier it is for you, your presenters and your audience. Several services also have a phone-in feature for those who lack voice over internet protocol (VoIP) capability.

Webcasting offers much more versatility than webinars. Among some of the more valuable features webcasting services provide are:

  • Live streaming: Webcasts take place live. Webcasting apps allow you to live stream your presentation in HD video to anyone around the world.

  • Presenters: You can host a panel of speakers rather than a single lecturer; however, some limit the number of simultaneous video streams during a session.

  • Desktop sharing: You can share your entire screen or just specific applications. This is helpful when making presentations. Many services let you upload video to enhance your presentation. Other services, such as ClickWebinar, provide in-webcast slide preview, a useful feature that lets you skip or move slides during the webcast without the audience noticing. This lets you adapt your presentation on the fly.

  • Moderator tools: With webcasts that have hundreds or thousands of audience members, Q&A chats may become overwhelming for presenters and confusing to attendees. Moderator tools help you keep control of the chat while still receiving audience participation. The raise-hand feature makes it easy for the presenter to see who has a question. Muting or removing attendees can take care of troublemakers or those who simply don't realize their background noise is affecting the webcast. Most webcasts rely on text-based Q&A, but a few have audio Q&A. Some services even provide operators who can serve as moderators for your webcast.

  • Monetization: You can use webcasts for marketing and revenue (so monetization features can play an important role). Some services integrate with your PayPal account so you can conveniently receive payments. In addition, some webcasting software integrates with CRM software so that your sales representatives can easily follow up with attendees.

  • Branding: The best webcasting platforms let you brand your webcast room so it reflects your company and services. You can also program a logout redirect to send attendees to a URL of your choice as they leave so you can lead them to a survey or a webpage with more information about your product, or even a by link.

Other valuable features include recording, analytics and reports, and administrator controls. In addition, some services also provide specialists who will help you plan and run the event.

Some of the more popular webcasting services include Webex, Onstream Media, Adobe Connect, Webinato, GoToWebinar, and GlobalMeet Webcast.

Methodology

To determine the best conference call services, we started by looking at nearly 30 providers. We then separated vendors that had a good online reputation, such as those consistently ranked highly by other websites. We also visited each company's website. If a company stood out to us, we added it to the final list.

We ultimately narrowed down our pool to Arkadin, AT Conference, ConferenceCalls.com, Conference Town, FreeConference, FreeConferenceCall.com, Free Conference Pro, Infinite Conferencing, InterCall, No Cost Conference, PGi, RingCentral, Totally Free Conference Calls, UberConference, Vast Conference, WebEx and Zip Conferencing.

Next, we thoroughly investigated each service, watching tutorials and how-to videos, testing out the service when possible, and reading user comments. After narrowing the list down even further, we contacted the customer support team of our finalists, posing as business owners to gauge the type of service each provider offers. In all, we analyzed each system based on the following factors:

  • Type of conferencing services: reservationless, operator-assisted or both
  • Call controls
  • Call recording
  • Features
  • Integrations
  • Mobile apps
  • Cost and pricing structure
  • Customer support
  • International access
  • Better Business Bureau complaints and rating

Conference Call Services FAQ

How does a conference call service work?

Conference call services give businesses the ability to host calls with multiple people, regardless of where they are located, at one time.  While most modern business communication systems already include conferencing services, you can also sign up for a separate conference calling service in addition to your existing phone system. With these add-on services, you are typically provided a local or toll-free phone number you and attendees call to access the conference line. Each caller is then prompted for a host or participant access code. Depending on how you set up the service, participants are either placed immediately in the meeting room or put on hold until the meeting's host starts the call.

There are two separate types of conference call services: reservationless and operator-assisted. Reservationless, as the name suggests, are calls that do not require previous scheduling and are most often used for everyday communication. Operator-assisted calls are generally used for more formal meetings, such as an investor call, and can support thousands of callers at a time, with a dedicated operator who helps run the call.

Can I use Google Hangouts for conference calls?

Yes, Google Hangouts offers conference call services. To start a conference call in Google Hangouts, start a new conversation, then click New Group, and enter the names or phone numbers of the people you wish to add, then click Video Call or Message.

How do you set up a conference call?

The process of setting up a conference call will vary depending on the service you use and which type of call – reservationless or operator-assisted – you are making. The basic steps are to schedule the call, invite participants, and send the information participants will need to join the call, such as time, date, and link or phone number. You can read more about how to set up a conference call and read our tips for having a successful conference call.

What is a dial-in conference call?

A dial-in conference call allows multiple participants to be connected together seamlessly via a conference call bridge. Dial-in conferencing services are reservationless, meaning you do not need to schedule them ahead of time.

Do conference call providers offer free trials?

Yes, some conference call providers offer 14- or 30-day free trials. There are also a number of strictly free services. With these, you might not have access to all the features and tools a paid service offers, but you will have the basic functionality to hold quality conference calls. 

However, if you need a robust feature set, you should either look for a conference call service that offers a free trial or ask those that don't if they will let you test out the service for free for a week or two. Some companies might let you try the service if they know it will lead to a paid agreement in the future.

How many callers can be on a conference call?

It depends on the service provider. For example, if you are using a conference bridge that is built into your business phone system, you may be limited to hosting meetings with eight or 10 people. However, most dedicated conference call services let you host reservationless meetings with at least a few hundred people. The exact number may depend on the service plan you select. With operator-assisted calls, however, you can expect to be able to host conference calls with thousands of people at one time.

What to Expect in 2021

Over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, much of the professional world has become accustomed to workdays filled with virtual meetings. Although video conferencing has become the primary medium for remote group meetings, conference calling still has its place in the era of "Zoom fatigue."

Being present, engaged, and "on" during back-to-back video meetings can be challenging, even for the most extroverted employees, so audio-only calls via conference calling services have become a smart alternative to a jam-packed video call schedule. Harvard Business Review (among other expert sources) recommends that leaders switch to occasional audio calls to give employees a break.

All types of call services, including business phone systems, unified communications systems and conference call services, are finding ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to make phone communication easier for users.

One way AI is being employed is to "listen in" on calls, take notes and provide feedback on what is being said. Dialpad's Voice Intelligence technology is a prime example of a conference calling service that offers natural language processing, machine learning and voice recognition. These services are especially useful for conference call users who want to be fully engaged in the conversation but who also want to easily capture the significant highlights of the call.

Some unified communications providers that offer conference calling services, such as RingCentral and 8x8, have invested in AI. Both companies have either acquired or partnered with AI companies to incorporate the technology into their platforms.

We expect additional dedicated conference call services to invest in AI-powered solutions throughout 2021. Those that don't risk losing market share to larger unified communications system providers whose offerings include conferencing services.

Kiely Kuligowski
business.com Staff
Kiely Kuligowski is a business.com and Business News Daily writer and has written more than 200 B2B-related articles on topics designed to help small businesses market and grow their companies. Kiely spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and writing about the best marketing services for small businesses, including email marketing and text message marketing software. Additionally, Kiely writes on topics that help small business owners and entrepreneurs boost their social media engagement on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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