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Conference Calling Services can be broken down into a few types of conferencing services, access methods, and pricing models.   Conference Calls are either self-service (aka Reservationless Conference Calling ) or have operator assistance (aka Operator Assisted Conference Calling).  The costs vary widely between these two types of conference calling services, with reservationless conferencing having the best conference call rates.  How you access the audio conference call can be done several ways.  Dialing an 800 conference call number (aka Toll-Free Conference Call), regular phone number (aka Dial-In Conference Call), or dial out from the conference call bridge (aka Dial Out Conference Call).

Operator Assisted Conferencing

This type of service is for larger audio conference calls (typically 300+ participants), which require a level of control and professional services not offered with a reservationless conference call.  Typically the operator assists in making introductions of presenters or major participants, controls audio noise, handles Q&A, as well as time management.  Operator Assisted Conference Calls are scheduled ahead of time and are not available as a reservationless conferencing service.  Most users are large businesses, financial institutions, investor calls, and government agencies.  Since this is the highest level of audio conference call quality and support, operator assisted conferencing pricing is the most expensive as well.

Reservationless Conferencing

The majority of audio conferencing services are reservationless due to the flexibility and lower costs associated with them.  Reservationless Conference Calling services are available without the need to schedule the conference ahead of time, but are typically limited to less than 300 participants.  The reservationless conference call is managed by the chairperson.  All the functions of the conference calling service are accessed and managed online or through your telephone keypad.   Reservationless Conferencing offers many of the same robust features as operator assisted conferencing calling services.  Most services include greetings, muting, polling, recording, reporting, roll call, with outlook and mobile integration.  Also, some conferencing providers offer the ability to access operator assistance if needed.

Conference Calling Costs

Conference Call Pricing is done as either per minute and per participant or flat rate conferencing, with a fixed monthly cost per conference chairperson or per participant.  For larger conferences (100+ participants), the options for unlimited or flat rate conferencing are usually very limited or not available.  For smaller conference calls there are typically tiered pricing levels based on the size of conference bridge needed.  For larger conference calls, pricing is usually per minute and per participant options only.   In general, the larger the conference call, the better the conference call pricing, with either per minute or flat rate conferencing.  Also, the access type is another factor in conference call pricing, with toll-free conference call access more expensive than a regular dial-in number.  There is another type of conference call service available which always catches people’s attention – free conference calling services.   This type of audio conferencing is usually not meant as a business conferencing service.   In most cases, there are requirements for participants to listen to advertising prior to calls, user info that is sold to marketers, or restrictions on use and quality (VOIP access).   When reviewing conference calling services, choose a larger and reputable conference call provider that fits your needs as well as usage.  Then see if they will offer a trial account, if they are confident in the quality of their conference calling service they will be more than willing to let you try it out for free.

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