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Working Online? Five Great Videoconferencing Options For You

With businesses and educational institutions around the world temporarily shut down, the video platforms are emerging as new arenas of public gatherings for multiple purposes. People from various walks of life are galvanizing around these forums for online learning and work place meetings.

The problem of choice is reduced to three concerns: ease of access, privacy and number of participants supported. As per the needs and pros and cons of each group, consumers may choose a particular platform over the other. Privacy-concerned consumers should consider video chat options carefully, said Arvind Narayanan, an associate computer science professor at Princeton University who has been outspoken about the security concerns especially those surrounding Zoom.

“There is a tradeoff between security and usability when picking a video conferencing product,” he said. “Companies and schools should consider supporting multiple software options, configuring them securely, and educating their users about the risks.”

While you are stranded at homes due to corona pandemic, here are the five great videoconferencing options for staying connected:

Zoom

Valued at $16bn in 2019, the company has responded to security and privacy concerns as it became the most popular forums for meetings. Attendees can join by a publicly shared link from anywhere, without having to download any software. It is a great option if you are not discussing anything private or secure. However, the link ought to be carefully shared to prevent “Zoom bombings”, in which hackers enter chat rooms to drop racist language and violent threats.

 Microsoft Teams

A work-from-home collaboration platform, it is also free and can also integrate with Skype without any haphazard. Though built primarily for businesses, currently, the schools in New York are transitioning from Zoom to Microsoft Teams. “The app has been gaining traction: Teams saw its daily active user count rise more than 37% during just one week last month, from 32 million to 44 million around the world.” In a meeting, the video platform allows for 250 to 10,000 viewers through its presentation and screen-share feature. Files can be easily shared with others in the meeting.

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StarLeaf

The Cambridge, England-based video conferencing provider Starleaf was founded in 2008 and has grown in popularity as it pitches itself as a more secure video conferencing alternative to Zoom. Call volume on StarLeaf has grown more than 1,000% compared to February 2020. It also allows the consumer to choose where their user data is stored. Rather than the individual consumer, it targets organizations with 500+ employees – a good option for a larger company but maybe not for happy hour with your friends like FaceTime or Skype.

Jitsi Meet

This video conferencing platform founded in 2003 by a student in France has gained popularity as a more secure alternative to Zoom. Jitsi Meet is free and open-source, meaning outside parties can check its security and is also encrypted, thereby comping up with security expectations. It allows a maximum of 75 participants in a chat (yet, offers a ‘better experience’ with 35 or fewer).

BlueJeans

The California-based video conference platform BlueJeans is a good option for work teams and meetings that require a little more security than a free Zoom session. Videos are encrypted by default. BlueJeans can be accessed via browser and does not require an account or the download of a new program. However, It is not free – BlueJeans costs $9.99 for a basic plan that allows meetings up to 50 people and $13.99 for its “pro” product, which allows up to 75 people per meeting, among other features.

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