Skype Video Conference Call for Multiple people

This post is about how to use Skype Video Conference Call for Multiple people. We show you how you can set up a multipoint Skype call on a Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone or Android device.

How to Set Up Group Video Calls on Skype

The Skype free account allows person to person video calls. If you want to hold a video call with two or more other people, then one person on the call needs a Premium Skype account. This will give you the multipoint capability to be able to have up to 10 people on that call. The image below describes in detail what you get with the Premium account.

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To begin your call, you need to have downloaded the Skype application. Skype is a multi-platform application and is available for Mac, PC, Windows, Android and Apple Devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod). You then have to log into your premium account and initiate the video conference, inviting as many people as you want (up to a maximum of 10 people). You can share documents, chat, and exchange text and photos while you are all on the call. You can also share your screen.

For the exciting possibilities with group video calling with Skype, see the video above. For our review of other group video conferencing software, click here. Also see our free group video conferencing tools.

Free Multipoint Video Conferencing Software Review

We have gotten emails about whether we plan to do a free multipoint video conferencing software review and point readers in the right direction about which apps live up to the task. Here is our initial review. We will follow-up with individual reviews later, which will provide a more detailed look at each software and the pros and cons. By definition, multipoint video conference means a video conference call that requires the participation of 3 or more sites.

Google Hangouts

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Google Hangouts is a late entrant to the free video conferencing space but has become a formidable competitor to Skype (reviewed below). The hangout capability comes as  the default chat app on Android devices. Google Hangouts allows you to connect with up to 10 people in a free web conference.

One of the things we like about this service is that regardless of how poor the data connection is, Google Hangouts seems to deliver a good experience, which is really important when connecting with lots of people with different data or broadband capabilities on their devices. Another neat feature is that Google Hangouts is integrated with Google Voice so you can call regular telephone lines and have them as part of your conversation (iOS only). You can also text and chat in the Google hangout application, making it a one stop shop for video conferencing, sharing information, chatting and texting with multiple people all at the same time. Here is how it works:

Google Hangouts is also cross-platform, and there are native apps on both Android and iOS, plus a web version that runs on Google Chrome. You can download it for free from Google Play for Andriod devices or the App Store for Apple devices. You can also get the desktop version online.

Vidyo

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Vidyo, the video conferencing firm has a free multipoint video conferencing service called VidyoWay. It can be used from smartphones and PCs, and also from corporate conference rooms using Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg and Microsoft Lync endpoints, among others. It allows up to 9 HD participants in a video conference, making it more suitable for business environments.

We get a lot of questions about why Vidyo will offer VidyoWay as a free service. The answer is simple – They want VidyoWay to serve as a marketing tool for Vidyo’s paid, higher-quality corporate services. Once you see how powerful the VidyoWay video conference experience is, you are more likely to upgrade to other Vidyo conferencing products with more bells and whistles that you may need for your business needs. Here is how it works:

Skype

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Skype was the first to bring video conferencing services to the masses and have remained an industry trailblazer in the space. Skype is ideal when connecting with another person for video conference. All you need is to download the Skype application and just connect your webcam and microphone to the USB ports on your desktop and you are good to go. If your device or computer already comes with a built in camera, then all you need is a microphone or headset to conduct a video conference.  Skype can offer multi-point video conferencing with up to 10 participants. However, to use the service, at least one person on the call needs to have a Premium account (which is $9 a month). Note that you can do person-to-person video calls (point-to-point) for free. When you need 3 or more participants on the call, then one participant has to have a Premium account. The pricing sheet below shows what you can do with a free skype account and what the Premium account offers.

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Here is how it works:

You can download Skype here. Skype is truly a multi platform application, with Mac, PC, Android, Windows and other devices like gaming consoles all supported.

ooVoo

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ooVoo is a free video conferencing service that allows you to video conference with up to 12 people. Once you download their app, all you need to do to start a video conference is by choosing Web Call in your contact list, then select Add a Call to add another friend. When you invite friends to a group chat, they get a link to download ooVoo and an invitation to call you to join the chat.  You can even add friends from Facebook, Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, and AOL mail.

ooVoo has apps for Facebook, iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, and Mac. ooVoo works well on a Windows 8 computer, but has no dedicated Windows 8 app. ooVoo’s  best feature, the ability to chat with 12 people at once, doesn’t work completely on all devices. While it is seamless on a PC, Mac users can only see six people, but can hear all 12. The iPad app lets you see only four contacts at once.

ooVoo needs to improve their user interface if they are going to compete with established platforms like VidyoWay and Google Hangouts. Also, there are display ads in the application, which can be quite large, making the experience quite unpleasant since the ads are in your face. We think that they should first work on making sure their application works on cross platforms seamlessly, so that if I am making a call on an iphone and inviting someone who has a windows or android phone, the experience is seamless and that we all see the same thing.

In addition they need to do something about the ad placement. They need to make it such that it is not intrusive to the video conference experience, otherwise it becomes a nuisance and people will be turned off by that. For a free app, ooVoo works, but needs a lot of improvements to compete with the big boys in the space for Free Multipoint Video Conferencing Software.

Here is how it works:

We hope you found our review useful. If there is a free multipoint video conferencing software or application we neglected to mention, please let us know in the comments section below.

Multipoint Video Conferencing Options

You have probably been looking at Multipoint Video Conferencing Options and are confused or not sure about which method to go with. You are not alone. Even large enterprises struggle with this decision since technology in this space is advancing at such a rapid pace that one has to be careful when deciding which option to invest in. It’s like picking a winner in an ever competitive field. We are here to help guide you through this process.

When it comes to options, you have 3 to choose from. You either get a built in MCU (bridge)  or Standalone MCU or a Multipoint Service Provider (MSP). What you go for then depends on your needs, including functionality needed, resources, meeting size,
and of course your budget. There are two types of delivery systems . The calls are either delivered through a wide area network
(WAN) or through a local area network (LAN) such as an Ethernet network. IP (Internet Protocol) conferencing is another name for video conferencing over the LAN.

Built in or embedded MCU services are similar to that of an office speakerphone that offers three-line conferencing capability so four locations can be on one call. This service allows all locations to see one another but does not come with the same level of quality provided by a managed system.

A managed or dedicated system are generally for large corporations. They provide capabilities that embedded MCUs lack like scheduling and management capabilities and in general provide greater call security which large corporations need.

A multipoint service provider (MSP) provides multipoint capabilities as an outsourced service. If you need the advanced functionality and flexibility of a managed system but are unable or unwilling to support it yourself, an MSP may be the right choice. Or, if you simply want the ease of use associated with MSPs for your users, an MSP is a good choice. They can also provide online scheduling, meeting greeters, information sharing, location handling and online technical support.

Next, we will review the key providers in the space and help you decide which option works best for your organization.

How Multipoint Video Conferencing Works

In our first post about Multipoint Video Conferencing, we covered the general definition of Multipoint conferencing and why it is important for business, both small and large to explore the benefits of this amazing advancement in conference call technology.

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How Multipoint Video Conferencing Works

Multipoint conferencing is just like any other video conference, but the difference is that it allows people in multiple locations – three or more to connect to the same video conference call via a bridge. In other words,  when three or more participants or remote sites need to get on a video conference, a videoconference “bridge” system or MCU system must be used.  This capability is analogous to phone conferencing where multiple people can be connected
together in a single call.

MCUs have traditionally been dedicated, stand-alone devices that provide the ability to link multiple video
conferencing sites together in a single call. However, this capability can also be embedded within the video conferencing
system (called a codec) and is referred to as an embedded or built-in MCU. Finally, the third way to achieve multipoint
capability is through a multipoint service provider (MSP). You may also need a gateway, which helps mix different formats of video conference calls together, such as H.320 and H.323.

In the next post, we will cover the options available in the Multipoint conferencing space and what your business should consider when selecting a system for your needs. We will then review individual Multipoint Service Providers (MSPs) and help you understand the pros and cons of their offerings and what makes them unique in the marketplace. We will also look into Google hangouts and Skype – which are cloud based solutions and how they compared with the regular systems that dominate the space in the enterprise settings.

We will cover Free Multipoint Video Conference Systems and the pros and cons that come with going that route vs spending the money on an enterprise solution like Polycom, LifeSize, BrothercloudCisco or  Bluejeans system or software.

What is MultiPoint Video Conferencing Solution?

If you are looking to invest in a video conferencing solution for your business, there are several options available to you. There is HD Video Conferencing, Desktop Video Conferencing, Cloud-based Video Conferencing and Mobile Video Conferencing. There is Skype, Cisco, Lifesize, Vidyo Linux and even Google products that try to meet the demand in this space. But what makes a solution multiPoint?

What is unique about multipoint  video conferencing is that it allows three or more remote sites to participate in a simultaneous video conference. The sites must connect via a video bridge, which is called the Multipoint Control Unit or MCU. With this capability, a company that has teams in various locations can bring them together via video conference to collaborate on a project or participate in a company meeting or event. With this capability, everyone on the conference can hear each other in real-time using video and audio. The MCU is the controller for the meeting and connects all the participants on the call. It regulates which audio or video feed participants see, depending on who is talking (the loudest), so that participants can follow the party that is leading the call or presenting information at each particular time.

When investing in a Multipoint Video Conferencing tool, you have to decide what kind of MCU you want, because there are several options to choose from and which one you select determines your experience and cost. There are Software MCU, Hardware MCU and Software and Hardware
Combo MCUs.

How Multipoint Video Conferencing Solution Works

The video above, by LifeSize,  one of the major players in the industry describes in very simple terms how MultiPoint Video Conferencing Solution works and the components needed to set up a functioning unit for your business.