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Five great alternatives to Skype Conferencing

While we won’t deny the widespread popularity of Skype as a conferencing platform, there are some great alternatives. Check them out here.

Given the geographically diverse nature of the global marketplace, people are seeing an increasingly important need for reliable, high quality conferencing programs. If you’re an active user of the internet, chances are high that you’ve probably tried Skype or at least you’re familiar with it. The company was initially released eleven years ago in 2003.

With the majority of its operations based out of Estonia, the company quickly gained in recognition among users for its calling capabilities that helped popularize the phenomenon of web-based calls. Eventually, the tech giant Microsoft shelled out 8.5 billion dollars to purchase the company in 2011.

While Skype has seen popularity in downloads and use for the past several years, contenders are beginning to move into that space and provide some healthy competition to the giant. These contenders tend to look to some of the areas where Skype has traditionally had weaknesses for inspiration, seeking to provide systems that don’t use such excessive bandwidth and don’t pose such a security risk to the internet network on which it operates. See the details behind some of these alternative options:

Blue Jeans Video Conferencing

Known for its unique, cloud based operability, Blue Jeans video conferencing is a light weight solution to those already operating computer systems loaded down with a lot of software or with many files stored. Their signature feature is in their interoperability between broadcast platforms.

The Blue Jeans system is easily accessed from the internet browser, from a mobile device using iOS or Android, or from a variety of other conference room sources like Polycom, Cisco, or LifeSize. Essentially, if it has a camera, Blue Jeans can use it to connect you with the people you need to be in communication with. While there is often some difficulty switching between a company’s internal communications systems like Microsoft Lync and their external conferencing tools like Polycom,

Blue Jeans allows these platforms to operate together cohesively, bridging communications between any two web-enabled tools. The simplicity of sending an invitation to conference via email means that you’ll never need to worry about collecting endless extra contact information before you can make the connection. All you need is their email and you’re ready to start conferencing. The system allows you to sync appointments with either Google calendar or outlook, so you don’t need to spend time establishing a separate booking and calendar system. If you’re giving a presentation to some clients or coworkers, the system allows you to share files like spreadsheets, documents and video content during your conference, with capabilities like 1080p live video resolution quality.

All of these features come secured by premium security features to ensure that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands or get lost at any point. Ultimately, according Blue Jeans co-founder Krish Ramakrishnan, the goal of the service is to, “replicate what an office meeting would look like” through an interactive live video conference.

Open Source Alternatives

In addition to Blue Jeans, there are some open source alternatives to Skype, with popular programs including Ekiga and Jitsi. These VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and video conferencing services provide a competitive, home-grown service in opposition to established giants like Skype. The essential appeal of VoIP over regular telephone service is that they transmit vocal data via the internet as opposed to the PSTN (public switched telephone network).

Ekiga: Originally written by Damien Sandras in 2000, Ekiga has gone through four major updates since its initial release under the name GnomeMeeting. The service offers instant messaging, video conferencing, as well as SoftPhone functionality, all operated over the internet. Ekiga is capable of supporting HD quality video and sound.

Jitsi: Operable for users with Windows, Linux or Mac OS X operating systems, Jitsi is an open source instant messaging, video conferencing, and multiplatform voice application. The program was previously known as SIP Communicator and was initially released in 2003. Written in Java by Emil Ivov as a student project at University of Strasbourg, the program has since expanded to offer a wide variety of tools for its users, all of which as encrypted by default. The service does not require its users to create an account before they start using its web conferencing applications.

GoToMeeting

Developed by the company Citrix, GoToMeeting is a service that offers desktop sharing with options for video conferencing software and online meetings. Users share the screen of the “host computer” with other members of the meeting across an Internet connection. The service was unveiled in 2004 and served as somewhat of an extension of the existing GoToMyPC service. In 2011, the service expanded its offerings with an option for HD web conferencing called HDFaces.

So whether you choose to continue video communications with platforms like Skype, Blue Jeans video conferencing, GoToMeeting or open source alternatives like Ekiga and Jitsi, you’ve got plenty of options available to you to start sampling.