One question that I get asked repeatedly when I tell people that I am in the conference call industry is: so how is it different from Skype? A fair question, for sure. But when we examine both services, they are not quiet comparable, not in terms of actual service nor in quality. In this article, we will have a look at Skype and see why it may not always be the right option for your business.
Skype is software that allows you to make free calls via your computer or portable device to other Skype users. Skype also has features that include conference calling, video calls, file sharing, instant messaging and more. Some Skype features are free while other are paid using a system of credits or subscriptions.
Traditional companies like Sky Conferencing offer enhanced telephone, web and video conferencing services as well as content management services for businesses, organizations and governments. Services are generally billed on a per minute, per person basis and offer a rich feature set including complete web conferencing services, audio conferencing with up to 150 people or more per call and more.
Skype VS. Sky: An Overview
Skype: Aimed mostly at individual users and consumers with focus on one to one communication (individual calls).
Sky: Aimed mostly at businesses, governments, larger organizations with focus on multi-person communication (conference calls).
Skype: You generally need a computer or mobile device to use the service.
Sky: Telephone conferencing works from any telephone.
Skype: VOIP based technology which relies on internet and bandwidth.
Sky: Traditional hardware which is not dependent on the quality of your internet connection.
Skype: Generally speaking, the host has to start the call and bring in everyone manually via software.
Sky: Any participant can call and join the conference themselves by dialing a phone number and entering a code and therefore is not dependent on being added to the conference by a host.
Skype: Free service, so if there is excessive use, then Skype will cut you off completely.
Sky: Paid service so you can use the service as you wish.
Skype: VOIP means lesser quality, echos and more dropped calls.
Sky: Quality of service is not dependent on bandwidth or number of users. Expect the same quality of service with every call.
Skype: Service features are more limited.
Sky: Offers more extensive feature set including operator-assisted conference calls as well as 24/7 instant technical support at all times, ability to moderate your audio conferences from the internet, recordings and much more.
When we examine the terms and conditions associated with using Skype, we find some interesting and frankly unsettling disclaimers and statements. For example, when we examine the Skype end user license agreement (EULA), we take note of the following:
2.2 Quality of Communications. Installing the Skype Software enables You to communicate with other people. Skype cannot guarantee that You will always be able to communicate with other people, nor can Skype guarantee that You can communicate without disruptions, delays or communication-related flaws or that all Your communications shall always be delivered to other people. There may be power outages or Internet service disruption and You may experience some disruptions e.g. packet loss and delay which will interfere with the quality of Your communications.
Would you really want to trust your important business conference calls to a company that willingly lists so many ways that their service can go wrong? The quality issue is one that is driving people away from Skype (and other similar services) towards traditional conference call companies that offer a reliable and quality service for your business needs.
A quick google search yields many disappointed Skype users who have stopped using their service and have moved on. There was also a recent Skype outage in December of last year that resulted in literally millions of calls dropping or not connecting.
Skype Fair Use
But it is not just the quality issue that is problematic. Skype, as many other free service models, has a fair use policy that essentially prevents you from using the service as you see would like to.
For example, if you want to do a free conference call for one hour per day with six people, you are out of luck; this goes beyond the daily limit allowed. Other restrictions also exist in terms of number of minutes per day used.
Traditional Paid Options
Traditional companies also offer more services for your business conference calls. For example, you have the ability to completely control your telephone conference call by telephone or from the internet. Recordings, roll call, entry/exit tones, conference security lock, dial out and much more are all included.
This is not to say that Skype is a bad service nor that it cannot find a place in business. But it is not a service that can be considered reliable for many clients to consider using it on a regular basis. There are too many quality-related issues and restrictions to consider Skype a real competitor for traditional conference call companies.
While Skype has been trying hard to monetize its service, in part by marketing to businesses, there remains many crucial problems with its service that are yet to be resolved to be considered as a viable alternative.
A note on our Company: Sky Conferencing is a North American based conference call services provider. Get started with a free telephone conferencing 30 day trial today.