Best Video Conferencing tool for Africa and beyond
With work from home creating remote teams that need to meet frequently Video Conferencing Applications have become mass-market essential work tools. Zoom has become not just a platform but the common term used for an online video call or conference. Even when people are using one of a variety of communication platforms the call is referred to as a zoom call. With this in mind and with so many video conferencing tools to choose from which of the many is best for you?
To go through each and every video conferencing tool out there would be a pointless exercise and for this reason, we have selected just 6 that we feel work best for a South African or African user even though they will work anywhere in the world. The reason why we have chosen tools that work best in South Africa and Africa is that the region often has lower quality, slower internet connections with data a premium too. The solutions we have found most suited for South Africa and Africa are:
- MS Teams
- Google Meet
Starting with the most popular or perhaps most controversial Video Conferencing application, Zoom has become one of the most popular despite some controversy in the early days of a widespread global lockdown.
Zoom works on both desktop and mobile devices and is extremely quick to set up. Zoom can handle up to 1,000 people in a call (100 in the free version) displaying up to 49 people on a single screen. There are a handful of screen options for presenters and guests that include speaker view or grid. The system has the ability to share screen and the share quality is very good. The presenter can mute all others in the meeting.
Zoom allows the presenter or host to save the call including video to the device or to the cloud. A simple and effective chat room that allows to chat to the room or chat to an individual is a powerful feature.
There is a free version of zoom that limits a call to 40 minutes. Paid for options start at $14 per month. The paid-for options deliver more functionality that includes various admin tools, unlimited call time and breakout rooms.
Zoom has overcome some of the security challenges that saw the solution hit the headlines for the wrong reasons and is built-in, using 256-bit TLS encryption for both meetings and shared files, and automated scheduling can be done from Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
Summary: Zoom is best for reliable, large video calls
Vidaloca is a brand new entrant onto the video conferencing scene is considered the ultimate open-source video conferencing tool. This powerful and feature-rich community-based video conferencing solution can handle almost unlimited participants and has many features that are normally not available in free editions of video conferencing tool.
The screen sharing feature in Vidaloca is exceptionally powerful and the chat rooms are easy to use. As with many of the more popular video conferencing applications Vidaloca is easy to set up and works on both desktop and mobile devices.
The Vidalocal solution is 100% free of charge and has been developed with slow or poor quality internet connections in mind. The efficiency of the technology does not compromise security and the solution is extremely secure using 256-bit encryption to secure all calls and chats. The platform allows for calls to scheduled and shared in Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
The unique feature that sets Vidaloca apart from all over video conferencing technologies is the ability to create a community around your calls. This intriguing feature makes the tool very useful for those people and companies who want to perhaps grow a client list or marketing database. Widening the capacity to communicate and personalising future contact adds a very real-world sense to this powerful and reliable platform.
Summary: Vidaloca is best for slow internet connections and growing a community
Microsoft Teams is an outstanding video conferencing tool but does require a commitment to the MS suite of software. Overall MS Teams has a lot of superb functionality claiming it can host up to 10,000 people on a call. While there is currently a limited free version available that is said to be expiring in January 2021 MS Office does rely heavily on the Office 365 suit and even then only for business or enterprise users.
In a more corporate environment, MS Teams will work extremely well, especially if the organisation is using MS Office 365. This does not mean to say that the solution is cheap and while the technology is excellent, as one would expect from Microsoft it does come with a price tag from $5 to $35 per user/batch of users per month depending on the package and features chosen. This may make financial sense when compared to other paid video conferencing solutions.
Summary: MS Teams is the perfect professional video conferencing tool for companies locked in with MS Office
Formally Google Hangouts and once a paid for and rather expensive video conferencing tool, Google Meet is now free to anyone with a Gmail account. Google Meet was made Free to directly compete with Zoom.
Google meet is a vastly improved version of hangouts and makes it easy to work with external clients. The platform is a web app that requires no installation and no downloads and there is also a dedicated dial-in number which in some countries is fine but in certain countries such as SA, it is expensive, a nice to have nonetheless.
This powerful video conferencing solutions gives users confidence under the Google name and has download in both the android play store and Apple Appstore. Another cool feature is that Google Meet can be configured to work with existing conferencing hardware in a similar way to how Skype has been used for many years.
Integrated with the full Google GSuite Google Meet allows users to pull out and share information from any google document or file with absolute ease. The security of the solution is top-notch and the technology uses very little bandwidth. The best thing about Google Meet has to be the price… which is free.
Summary: For accessible cloud-powered video conferences
Any gamers out there will instantly recognise Discord as it was and still is the voice chat of choice for gaming. With the upsurge in video conferencing software Discord has done its best to reinvent itself to go beyond just gaming. The interface is very similar to most other video conferencing tools and is therefore relatively simple to use.
A feature that gives Discord some advantage in the video conferencing world is that the Discord servers have different channels for different purposes and anyone using a particular server can easily join any call that is occurring.
Discord is limited to just 100 callers on a video call which puts it at somewhat of a disadvantage other platforms, screen sharing has recently been added as has background changing. Sadly calls cannot be recorded.
Discord Nitro is a paid upgraded of the standard Discord Product. For $9.99 or $99 per annum such features as HD Video, Improved profile, upgraded emoji. For the average user, these features don’t really make this a more attractive video conferencing tool but for gamers, it is an excellent choice of communication platform.
Summary: Best for gamers
Finally, we come to the place where personal and small business video conferencing began. Skype has been around since forever in technology years and is still a viable and much-loved video conferencing tool. While it is very much surpassed by many of the newer video conferencing tools it is nonetheless and a superb business communication tool. It is not really suited to large groups it is limited to and struggles with 50 participants on a call.
Skype is, however, a very stable and trusted solution often used for small teams of remote workers. The technology paved the way with screen sharing and screen takeover and today Skype has many paid add-ons that bring more telephony technology that takes advantage of the Skype platform. Tools such as an incoming overseas phone number or the ability to call a landline or mobile phone number at cheaper rates than normal mobile or fixed-line phones give it an edge that some of the other video calling tools do not offer. Tools such as Skype for business and now skype for Alexa give some idea of the direction Skype is heading.
Summary: Best for small groups and telephony
To be honest there is no absolute winner as each video conferencing tool serves a certain purpose and some just work well or better for some people. As an allrounder and if one was looking specifically at South Africa or Africa the best bet when it comes to video conferencing would perhaps be Vidaloca as this has been designed for the African market. However, each product is well worth evaluating for yourself.
|Video Conferencing tools; features vs price.|
Year Started: April 2011
Best for large video calls
· One of the most popular conferencing applications to date
· Works on both desktop and mobile devices
· Quick and easy to set up
· Free version can handle up to 1000 people
· Can display up to 49 people on the screen at a time
· Enables a user to share a screen
· Presenter can mute others
· Call can be recorded
· Simple and effective
· Breakout rooms can be utilised
· Automated scheduling can be done from Gmail, Outlook and iCal.
Basic Plan – Free
Pro Plan $14.99
Business Plan $19.99
Enterprise Plan $19.99
Year Started: March 2017
MS Teams is best for companies locked in with MS Office
· Amazing tool provided you have MS suite software.
· Able to host 10 000 people on a call
· Works well for a corporate environment especially if using Office 365
· Excellent technology
Microsoft Teams Plan
Free (limited access)
Office 365 Business Essentials Plan
$5 per user per month
Office 365 Business
$12.50 per user per month
Office 365 E3 Plan
$20 per user per month
|Google Meet||Features||Prices and Plans|
Year Started: February 2017
Best for accessible cloud-powered video conferences
· Free to anyone with a Gmail account
· Improved version of hangouts
· Enables user to work easily with external clients
· No installations or downloads required
· Dedicated dial in number within certain countries
· Available in both Apple Appstore and android play store
· Able to be configured with existing conferencing hardware
· Allows users to pull and share information from any google file
· Excellent security
· Uses very little bandwidth
Free (limited package)
$10.00 per month
$20.00 per month
|VidaLoca||Features||Prices and Plans|
Year started: April 2020
Best for slow internet connections and growing communities
· Brand new!
· Ultimate open-source video conferencing tool
· Rich in features
· Community based
· Unlimited participants
· Many features that are not normally free when using other conferencing tools
· Powerful screen share feature
· Easy to use chat rooms
· Can be set up with ease
· Works on both mobile and desktop devices
· 100% FREE
· Developed to combat poor quality internet connections
· Extremely secure
· Allows for calls to be scheduled in Gmail, Outlook and iCal.
· Unique ability to create a community around your calls.
· Useful to businesses who would like to grow a client list or database.
· Powerful & reliable platform
|Discord||Features||Prices and Plans|
Year Started: May 2015
Best for Gamers
· Widely used amongst gamers
· Simple to use
· Different channels for different purposes
· People using the same server can join any call
· Limited to 100 callers
· Screen sharing recently been added
· Calls cannot be recorded
$4.99 per month and $49.99 per year
Year started: August 2003
Best for smaller groups
· First form of video conferencing invented
· Well known conferencing tool
· Superb communication tool
· Limited to 50 participants per call
· A stable and trusted video conferencing solution
· Ability to receive incoming overseas phone numbers as well as the ability to call a landline or mobile number at cheaper rates.
· Newer versions such as Skype for business and Skype for Alexa available
$2.99 per month
(Includes up to 2000 minutes of calls).
Thereafter 15 cents per minute
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