Phone Conferences

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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 they have to pay everything on their own. 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. I have not done a security audit to the conference providers below, they are just a representative snapshot of offers.

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 several countries. Dialing is is more expensive than calling regular phone numbers.
  • talkyoo offers fixed-line numbers for many countries that can even be reached with mobile phones, and might even be much cheaper than using vanity or services numbers.
    As of January 2010, talkyoo conferences are limit to 6 concurrent users. Larger conferences are only available as a service plan.
  • A similar service is being offered by phonesty. They offer a regular number in Germany and US-dialin. Is still in beta with some outages.

web services


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