Online Conferencing during COVID-19? Use VoIP instead of Call-In or Call Me

Say what?

With everyone working remotely, Cisco WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts (not to mention the myriad of other providers) are placing unprecedented demand on the global phone network.

Every time you join a meeting and use your cell phone to dial in, you use a phone trunk to get your call from your home or cell phone to the conference. Each conferencing provider has a finite amount of trunks, and even though they’re increasing capacity, the system is over-burdened.

However, there is something small that you can do: when you join a meeting, use the VoIP option. Have the meeting use your desktop or laptop speakers and microphone, or pair your Bluetooth headset to your computer (if your laptop supports it).

No Bluetooth? Junky PC? Download the WebEx/Zoom/Teams/Hangouts app on your smartphone or tablet and join the meeting from there, then use VoIP to connect from your phone.

This is one little change that you can do to help ease the burden on the telecom infrastructure. Even if you’re using your cell phone, every call not on the phone network helps ease congestion.

This won’t work for people that don’t have reasonably decent Internet connections (or any Internet at all), or for connecting to a provider that doesn’t offer VoIP. Your company’s security policy may not allow you to either.

How can I join my meetings via VoIP?

Here is how to connect using VoIP for a few of the popular services from the desktop. The apps are somewhat similar. Green = good, red = bad.

Cisco WebEx

When joining a WebEx meeting, select Use computer for audio. Don’t select Call me or Call in.

Zoom

In Zoom, use the Computer Audio tab, not the Phone Call tab.

Microsoft Teams and Skype

When you make a call on Microsoft Teams, ensure the call says Using PC Mic and Speakers. Don’t choose Phone audio.

On Skype, select Use Skype for Business, not Call me at.

Google Hangouts

To join a Google Hangouts meeting, use the full meetings client by clicking on Join now. Don’t select Join and use a phone for audio.

Summary

It’s a small change, but if enough people do it, it’ll shift the burden off of the telecom carriers. Want documentation for any other providers? Leave a comment below.

Data center/security/collab hack, CCIE #5026, focusing on automation, programmability, operational efficiency and getting rid of technical debt.

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