Home > Business Services > Free Conferencing Calling: You Get What You Pay For (Part II), or Yugma and Audio Quality

Free Conferencing Calling: You Get What You Pay For (Part II), or Yugma and Audio Quality

A couple of years ago while working on a web application development project with an outsource shop in India, I was introduced to a desktop sharing/webinar service called Yugma (pronounced “Yoog Muh”). It was amazingly free and also worked cross platform (good with Windows, Macs, and Linux users bi-directionally). After using the free service for a while, I signed up for their Yugma Pro 20 service for $149 a year as the additional features seemed worth it to me.

Audio Quality: Is it Us or Them?
In working across the time zones with our friends on the subcontinent we noticed pretty quickly that even through the desktop sharing worked great, the audio was inconsistent and of inferior quality. I initially chalked this up to our respective VoIP telephone system, but soon wondered whether something else was at play. I wasn’t sure, but didn’t have the patience to figure this out.

Since the web features were quite good, we began simply using our InfiniteConferencing.com audio service coupled with Yugma to do what we needed. This added some complication to those of us scheduling meetings, but this allowed us to get the best of both services without it killing us cost wise. In fairness to Infinite Conferencing, they do offer desktop sharing features too; however, the meter runs twice for those meetings (web + telephone), and they also don’t work across platforms for the desktop sharing piece.

Trying Again
This fall we revisited the audio portion of Yugma’s conference service as an experiment for our weekly sales meetings. We figured that even though Yugma’s telephone numbers are in South Dakota, since our VoIP telephone service doesn’t assess toll charges, it didn’t matter for us. This lasted perhaps 2 weekly meetings before we bailed in frustration. The lines in Mount Rushmore state didn’t reliably pick up, so we were back to the drawing board.

I ran a web meeting last Thursday and scheduled it as normal via the Yugma web app and forgot to inform the team that they should ignore the standard dial in instructions and we tried calling in via the standard Yugma number in the 605 area code. When it didn’t pick up after the 2nd call and 10 rings, we reverted back to the daisy chain method described in the previous post.

Since I’m a paying Yugma customer, I decided to complain. What follows is my email exchange with them.

From: Kenny Schiff
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 5:18 PM
To: support@yugma.com
Subject: Telephony Issues. Dial in # just rang and didn't pick up

I have found the audio portion of your service to completely unreliable. We had not used audio for a while, and when I called into a scheduled conference today @ 3 pm EST (Meeting ID: 404166026), the phone never picked up on your end. I would consider this to be a major show stopper and I really have to think twice regarding using this with customers (BTW, I have the Pay version). I’ve never had a problem with the web portion, only with telephony.

Their response was a revelation for me (loved the Mr. Kenny touch), and not unfair, only unreasonable in the fact that that had I not complained, I would have not known that this was the only way to guarantee audio quality.

From: Support [mailto:support@yugma.com]
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2010 2:31 AM
To: Kenny Schiff
Subject: RE: Telephony Issues. Dial in # just rang and didn't pick up

Dear Mr. Kenny,

The teleconferencing service is a free service which we are extending to our users as a courtesy through a partner of ours. Unfortunately Yugma does not have much control over the quality or nature of the service. We understand your concern about issues with this service at certain times. We propose that you use our new Toll Free Option which comes with an attractive rate of $0.04 per minute per user, with a committed $200 per month (a total 5000 minutes per month usage), and sliding higher rate for lower volumes.

The charge for using a GX-toll-free number is paid by the meeting host, and all the incoming attendees join the call toll-free. With Toll-free Service, your meeting attendees call you free of charge. This way you can handle and satisfy more customers. A seven digit access code will be provided to the HOST and will be visible on main console of Yugma for all attendees. Subscribing to this feature will make all scheduled Yugma meetings as public meeting, which can be attended using the unique seven digit access code. To subscribe for Toll Free Service visit this URL https://www.yugma.com/buyyugma.php Once you have subscribed, it takes 24 to 48 hours to activate the Toll Free number. Please let us know if you would be interested in subscribing to this premium audio service. I hope this information helps.

So the short story here is that if you are attracted to Yugma’s services and anticipate doing both audio and web conferencing at the same time, don’t have high expectations for the free audio portion. In fact, per my previous post I would not hold out high hopes for decent audio service through any provider that offers it for free. In the case of Yugma, if you are using this regularly with customers, go with “toll free” option and pay the extra fees.

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