With Zoom Proving Problematic, What Alternative Video Conferencing Tools Are There?
While Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan apologised for data privacy and hacking issues last week, and has moved to tackle these problems with new features, concerns over the video conferencing platform are still mounting. So, what alternatives are there?
Skype, which was initially launched in 2003, has long been the major player in voice calls and video chats over the internet between desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Microsoft, which acquired Skype in 2011, reported in late March that 40 million people were using Skype daily, an increase of 70% over the month before. In addition, Skype calling minutes rose by 220% that same month.
Skype offers audio and HD video calling for free, supporting up to 50 people in a call. The screen sharing and call recording features are easy to use and you can also add mobile numbers and landlines to your calls.
By simply dragging and dropping into a conversation window, users can share files up to 300MB in size.
In terms of data protection, Skype offers industry-standard end-to-end encryption.
Some handy features include live captions and subtitles, which translate your calls and chats in real time. The voice translator is available in 10 languages and the chat translator is available in 60 languages.
Skype with a Microsoft 365 subscription
As part of its upcoming Microsoft 365 plans, Skype is launching a Meet Now feature, which allows you to create video meetings in three clicks for free, requiring no signups or downloads.
If you already have an Office 365 subscription, or will be getting a Microsoft 365 Personal and Family plan, you will be given 60 Skype minutes for calling mobile phones and landlines per month as part of the service.
Calling Teams and hosting live events with Microsoft 365
The Microsoft 365 subscriptions, which are in the process of being rolled, are adding new features to Microsoft Teams calls to improve the video conferencing experience. You can host up to 250 people in an audio or video meeting with Microsoft Teams.
For greater integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 package, you will be able to use the Bookings app within Teams to schedule and manage your virtual meetings, and collaborate on shared to-do lists.
If you’re looking to reach a broader audience, Microsoft 365 live events can host up to 10,000 attendees for more broadcast-style video presentations. These can be hosted within Yammer, Stream or Teams.
Cisco Webex Meetings
Cisco’s Webex Meetings offers high-quality audio and HD video conference calls, enabling content and screen sharing. On their free plan you can have up to 100 participants in a call, meet as long as you want, schedule meetings and access whiteboard and file sharing options.
All calls are protected with TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption; personal room locking and unlocking; fully encrypted meetings, including recording storage; and online support.
With the $18.95-per-month Starter Pack, you also get 5GB of cloud storage, MP4 meeting recordings, a customisable personal room link, advanced administrative feature controls and recording transcriptions.
As steps up, Webex offers a Plus plan ($24.95 per month) and Business plan ($37.95 per month), each with additional features.
In March Webex hosted 4.2 million meetings, which was more than twice the average on a peak day before the COVID-19 pandemic. “We hosted 14 billion meeting minutes in March, more than double the number in February,” Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco Systems, said on the 1st of April. “As the largest enterprise security company in the world, we are uniquely positioned to protect our consumers as their workforces go remote.”
GoToMeeting, another online meeting, desktop sharing and video conferencing package, has been around since 2004. Like Zoom, you can create meeting rooms and host HD video calls. However, unlike many of the other options on the market GoToMeeting has no free options available. Their free trial lasts for 14 days.
Its plans offer, screen sharing, web audio, a dial in conference line, unlimited meetings, no meeting time limits, unlimited cloud recording and meeting room locks. You can view what is and isn’t offered in each plan here.
In terms of security, GoToMeeting has SSL encryption, AES-256 bit encryption, SOC2 certified data centres and risk-based authentication.