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Are free conference calling services really free?

Are free conference calling services really free?

Communication is something that you cannot ignore if you are really serious about the success of your business. Businessmen and professionals have always travelled to discuss proposals, make sales presentations and share financial results, face to face. But with conference calls, you can communicate with any number of people even if they are not physically present with you in the same room. Business travel is not only time consuming, but also very expensive. You must also factor in the cost of accommodation. There are many free conference call solutions available that smart companies make use of to reduce costs and still maintain the smooth running of the business.

Both personal and business communication can be made easy by conference calling. Many conferencing services provide inexpensive and easily accessible conferencing solutions that will suit any type of business. If your teleconferencing requirements are at a basic level, free conference call services may be enough for you.

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All that telephone conferencing requires is a normal telephone line. A telephone number and pass code is provided to the participant by the teleconferencing service provider. You dial into the conference bridge and key in the pass code to get connected to the teleconference. Voice conference calls through usual channels are usually free for most participants because it is one person, typically the host, who bears the cost of phone conferencing. Others pay just the cost of a long distance telephone call without any other surcharges.

With the advent of internet, teleconferencing  is often advertised as “absolutely free”. Many websites offer call conferencing services that let you connect with any number of people absolutely free of charge. The reality is that you are no longer paying the company which hosts the conference bridge on a per-conference, per-delegate or pence-per-minute basis. Rather, you are paying to access the bridge as a charge from your fixed or mobile operator.

Many so called “free conference call services” are hosted on special rate numbers – typicall 0871 or 0844. These are more expensive to dial than 01, 02 or 03 numbers – particularly if you are calling from a mobile.

An alternative exists with 03TALK which operates its service on 03 numbers. Calls to 03 numbers are included in your bundled minutes, meaning that there is no incremental cost in a conference call made to 03TALK. If you have minutes available with your contract at the time of making the call, 03TALK is free to use. If you don’t, the call costs the same as a call to an 01 or 02 number. This is irrespective of whether you are dialling from a fixed or mobile network.

In short, calls to 03TALK really are free. Calls to most conference service providers are operated on more expensive 08 numbers.

Kieron James is the managing director of Zimo Communications, a Network Operator providing number translation services on a wide range of geographic and non-geographic number ranges.




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