What is Party Line, Flat Rate and Prepaid Conference Calling?
Party Line Conference Calling
Conference calls can also be used for entertainment or social purposes, such as the party line or a group call. Such entertainment-based conference calls are used to provide a break from boredom as well as a way to socialize with others. People call in to a specified telephone number and are connected to conversations with other callers. This serves as a way to talk to and perhaps, subsequently, meet new people.
In the "early" days (up to 1950's-1970's in some parts of Australia) a "party line" was the only way a community could make calls. Everyone was connected to the same line and all you had to do was pick up the handset and you would be connected. In some areas, the local operator could connect you by simply plugging in the lead to your house and you could join in the conversation. Interestingly the operator was able to listen to all calls, they would cut in and tell a caller if they were approaching their allocated time for a call. The operator was often a good source of information about the community.
Flat Rate Conference Calling
Flat rate conferencing services are being offered which give unlimited access to a conference bridge at a fixed monthly cost. Because telecommunication carriers offer free long distance bundled with local service, this alternative is gaining widespread popularity for budget conscious businesses and non-profits.
In the UK, there are conference services offered on a pay as you go basis where the cost of the phone calls (using 0844, 0870 or 0871 numbers) from each of the participants covers the cost of the conference service. With this service type there is no monthly charge and usually no contracts to sign.
Prepaid Conference Calling
Prepaid conference call services allow businesses and individuals to purchase conferencing services online, and conduct conference calls on a pay-as-you-go basis. Typically, a conference call PIN and its associated calling instructions are displayed immediately online after being purchased and/or sent via email. Generally, prepaid conference call services are used with a landline telephone, mobile phone, or computer, and there is no need to buy additional expensive telecommunications hardware or add/switch long distance service. Some services allow you to start or join a conference call from virtually any country worldwide—with appropriate telephone access.
Large telecommunications providers such as AT&T, Embarq (formerly Sprint), Verizon and other large to medium conferencing service providers maintain a dominant position in the conferencing niche; servicing many of the World's biggest brands. However, the Internet and improved global VoIP networks have helped to significantly reduce the barrier of entry into this niche.