Blog, Technology

Blog: Video calling for free – who’s Zoomin’ who?

So you want to organise a video call. But which service is best? And what’s available for free?

Zoom is probably the best known of the video conferencing tools out there. It offers unlimited one-to-one meetings on its free plan. But for group chats – of three or more people – it has a time limit of 40 minutes (on the free plan).

Good call quality and ease of use have made the service popular during the COVID-19 lockdown. The UK Government has even held cabinet meetings on Zoom – however there have been security worries about the service.

More on Zoom pricing here.

The founder of Zoom used to work for Webex – the rival conferencing tool, owned by communications giant Cisco. Free group meetings can last a little longer on Webex – 50 minutes. Pay a little and you’ll get a whole lot of extra features. More on Webex features and pricing here.

Then there is Microsoft Teams. It also offers a free calling feature. Currently there’s no time limit on group calls – for the time being, anyway – but this could change. Compare the free version of Teams with paid-for options.

It’s a similar case at Google. Its Hangouts feature has been rebranded as Meet. Until the end of September 2020, it’s offering group calls for free, with unlimited time limits. You don’t have to download any software, it all just runs in a Chrome browser. Discover Google Meet here.

The last one to consider is Whereby. It has a free “personal” plan offering unlimited timed meetings, for up to four people, all for free. It also allows you to create custom meeting room links in the style of “whereby.com/yourname” (even on the free plan). Check out the Whereby features and prices.

Which is best? It’s really a case of you trying each of the platforms and seeing which you like and which service delivers the quality and usability you’ll need.

In all the cases you can get more features if you pay for one of the subscription plans.

ADRIAN MAHONEY is the managing consultant of The PR Store.