Hold meetings without leaving home with web conferencing

Web conferencing allows you to hold meetings between multiple participants over the internet. These are typically hosted applications, you pay by the minute or hour to host the conference. As an example, I was on-site at a client on a Friday, with the intention of doing a program walk-through. One thing led to another and we were unable to complete our task together, so the following week, we scheduled a web conference using Macromedia Breeze and Premier Global Services.

Breeze provides computer integration. Sitting in front of their own computers, participants can share programs, share a whiteboard, and see each other over a videoconferencing link. Macromedia has an overview of Breeze.

Breeze integrates with Premier Global Services which is a telephone audio conference provider. Participants are given a toll-free telephone number to call along with a “conference number”, a five-digit number for the conference. Once connected to the toll-free number , an auto-attendent asks for the conference number, and then directs you to the conference. The conference moderator has the ability to accept new participants, and to dial out to “retrieve” conference participants.

What does this cost?
Pricing is confusing. The base price for a meeting is 32 cents per minute per participant. So, a three-way conference will cost about almost $1.00 per minute. Clearly this becomes justifiable when there are distances to travel, or several participants involved. Telephone audio conferencing adds six cents per minute for participants who connect using a telephone. Monthly/Yearly plans are also available.

Another alternative is Microsoft’s LiveMeeting, which is a re-branded version of PlaceWare.

Both services offer two-week free trials.

A review of simpler and less expensive web-conferencing systems such as GoTo Meeting appeared in PC Magazine

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