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From time to time, to discuss a project or a task, people need to get together on the phone instead of using e-mail, IRC or instant messaging. In most countries, people can initiate three-party conferences themselves via their regular phone line, with the disadvantage that it costs a lot and one party pays it all. While for a long time only companies could afford to host a professional conferencing system, there now exist some public conference services to make our lifes easier. This page is intended to give some links to free conference services anyone can use. (Free means that you don't have to pay any monthly or one-time fees, apart from the phone rates.)
Important: Never discuss highly secure and confidential issues on a free conferencing system as long as you don't know anything about how thrustworthy it is.
Overview of services
In general, there are three types of services we can distinguish: services initiated with software running on your PC; services where conference attendees dial in using a normal phone and a phone number, i.e. regular dial-in services; services where conference attendees are being called by the conferencing system on their regular phone numbers.
using your computer
If you are a user of Skype you can easily initiate phone conferences. While calls to other Skype users are free, calls to external phones are not. You can, however, mix non-Skype conference attendees with Skype conference attendees.
regular dial-in services
- conferencenow offers vanity numbers for the UK and for Germany.
Prices are higher than for normal landline calls.
- talkyoo offers landline numbers for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, France, Netherlands, Italy, UK and Spain as well as a Skype gateway.
As of January 2010, talkyoo conferences are limit to 6 concurrent users. Larger conferences and premium features like recording are only available as a service plan.
- A similar service is being offered by phonesty. They offer landline numbers in Germany and the UK.
Larger conferences and premium features like recording are only available as a service plan.
Some are open, some others are proprietary, I would preffer the open, but will list some of the popular ones too.
VoIP providers suitable for self-made Asterisk conferencing solution
- http://www.teltarif.de/i/konferenz.html?page=4 - list of German conference services