Good conference call services allow users to meet virtually without compromising security or productivity. You can rely on Webex to do just that, as you might expect from a service by Cisco, one of the leading technology companies in the world. And it goes a step further: Webex is a collaborative workspace that combines conferencing, messaging, and document sharing. As far as straight-up conference call software goes, though, there may be better, more affordable tools available.
Compare Webex to The Best Conference Call Services
While Webex doesn’t make our list of the best conference call services available on the market, it’s still a good platform—especially for the enterprise. It’s strong in multiple use cases, from conferences and live webinars to IT support and presentations with slides and video. The interface is very user-friendly. And the user experience and security are certainly superior compared to many alternatives.
We’ve broken this down in more depth below for those interested. However, if Webex isn’t the right option for you, we have compiled a buying guide for conference calling services that include multiple tools and our methodology criteria.
Nextiva and Ooma are our top picks because of their reliability, feature-set, and price points, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone—particularly if you don’t need all of those bonus features. See all our top picks here.
Webex: The Good and The Bad
Robust Security: This is one of the most significant benefits of Webex. Cisco is the largest enterprise cybersecurity company in the world, so you can trust it to ensure your privacy and data security within a Webex call. Webex encrypts all your data no matter which plan you buy. Companies whose data security is of the utmost importance can have absolute peace of mind here.
Collaborative Audio and Video Conferencing: Prefer your conferencing solution with all the frills? Webex has it all, wrapped up in a solid user experience. You get HD video display, where you can see up to 25 participants at a time. You can chat within the call, whiteboarding to collaborate on notes, plus breakout rooms for classes or team-building exercises. We particularly like the screen sharing and control functionality, which, unlike other tools we’ve tried, doesn’t affect display quality, and it’s easy to share or switch between separate windows or the entire desktop.
Supports Multiple Use Cases: Because it’s so fully featured and allows so many participants, there’s very little limit (budget permitting) to what you can do with it. You can host up to 3,000 participants, allow up to 40,000 users to stream a meeting, and play video during them, making Webex a good contender for use cases like webinars and online classes (Webex offers separate solutions for these).
This means that even if you’re using conferencing across the organization for different purposes, you can all use the same tool. The caveat is the expense of stacking different solutions (see pricing details below).
Fast Conference Bridge Connection: This is important for both audio and video calls, and we’ve found that the connection speed is generally instantaneous, especially compared to similar collaborative workspaces. Also, when you log in, you can test that everything is working properly in your system/browser before you join. If you’re running something like a webinar, this allows for a better user experience than spending time helping people connect.
Extensive Integrations Available: As well as interfacing with Google Cloud and Microsoft tools like Teams and Sharepoint for easier collaboration across the organization, Webex can also map directly to Google Workspace and Outlook to sync your meetings with your calendar of choice. This makes it easy to schedule meetings, check participants’ availability, and share invitations externally. This level of integration isn’t available with rivals like Zoom, for example.
And of course, Webex integrates with all Cisco hardware so that you can dial into a conference directly from your Cisco phone or DX80 monitor.
Multiple Ways to Connect: Webex is platform-independent, so you can join from any device anywhere. You don’t need to install the desktop app to join, and the browser and desktop apps offer much the same features. Depending on the plan you choose, you can dial in—a boon if you often have a bad internet connection or use a computer without a microphone. You can even switch between different audio devices using the VoIP feature, which functions well and isn’t offered by competitors, as far as we’ve seen.
Occasional Call Quality and Connection Problems: Call quality is generally good, and the surrounding noise reduction feature is better than other tools we’ve tried. But, because Webex is so widely used, there’s always the risk of outages. We’ve experienced a couple over the course of testing different products, and occasionally Webex does take some time to connect, or we lose video or audio for a few seconds. We’ve also had trouble admitting participants on a couple of occasions.
Limited Personalization Options: Webex does include virtual backgrounds, but not as wide a selection as competitors like Zoom. There’s a lack of fun personalization features found in other tools like color schemes and window layout options.
Mobile App: It’s fairly easy to use, and you can join meetings in one tap. We also like that the mobile version doesn’t compromise the quality of video and audio calls. But it doesn’t feel as smooth an experience as compared to Zoom. It’s not as fully featured, and you might notice it’s somewhat slower.
Multiple Ways to Connect: This is both good and bad in terms of connecting via desktop specifically. Perhaps confusingly for some users, there are multiple ways to connect via desktop apps—Webex Teams, Webex Meetings, or your own conference bridge—and you might find it’s much slower to connect via Teams.
“Call Me” Feature Available Only as an Add-on: Unlike some other tools, Webex doesn’t offer the option to call people to join by default. You’ll have to rely on participants’ calendar reminders or remembering to dial in themselves unless you buy the “Call Me” add-on.
Webex Pricing and Options
Webex comes in three plans:
- Basic Plan — Free
- Meet Plan — $15 per license per month (billed annually), up to 50 users
- Call Plan — $17 per license per month (billed annually), up to 100 users
You could argue the cost is reasonable for the level of quality and security you get with Webex compared to other tools. But we don’t love the pricing strategy.
For one, though the Basic version is free, it’s very limited—to only one user, and you can only try (some of) the conferencing features or messaging. No calling and phone system features with the free plan.
And unlike some other collaborative workspace solutions, rather than include conferencing and calling features across plans with different levels of functionality per plan, Webex offers separate plans for conferencing (Meet) and calling (Call).
This means that although Webex can serve different use cases, it can get expensive if you want to use it as both a conferencing solution and phone system because you have to bundle the two plans together (or call sales for an enterprise or customized quote).
Each individual plan might be expensive for organizations that just need the basics. Each plan includes a lot of functionality that could be offered as add-ons, rather than forcing you to pay for more than you need. Conversely, there are some add-ons that we think should be included in the price.
Let’s break down what you get in each plan across conferencing, calling, and other offerings and who each plan is best for.
Webex Meetings and Video Conferencing
True to its name, the Meet plan is the one to choose if you want to get the most out of Webex’s conferencing functionality for everything from meetings and online classes.
You get the highest number of participants for the longest possible calls. You can record and transcribe calls, up to 10GB of which are automatically stored in the cloud, and the speech-to-text is impressively accurate. You can change presenter/host, who has full control over mute and participation of attendees.
And you get that all-powerful integration with your calendar we mentioned earlier.
You’re out of luck if you want this feature with the Basic or Call plan, which we think is a shame, since email and calendar integration is increasingly standard in conferencing services. We think things like the ability to change host, a fairly basic need for many companies, should be offered across all plans compared to other tools.
Webex Calling and Phone System
This is the plan you’ll want if you’re using Webex first and foremost as a business phone system, for use cases like administration, customer service, or sales. Use the fast remote desktop connection for IT support, for example. Or use calling waiting and routing for customer inquiries or support cases and call forwarding to accept calls on the road.
The “Advanced calling features” are included in the Webex Control Hub, where you can see things like calling analytics, which highlights your most engaged users, call quality, call queues, which you can configure to your needs, and the Webex Calling app.
Though this is the best plan for VoIP needs, you can still use VoIP to call anyone with a Webex account with the Meet or Basic plans.
Note, though, that if you need a toll-free number, you have to upgrade to Enterprise.
Webex Messaging and Collaboration
Webex messaging features are about the same across all plans, but being able to control who gets added to a space (with the Meet plan) is helpful for teams that need to use Webex for things like online classes or webinars, so you can screen who enters for security reasons.
Other than that, as far as messaging tools go, Webex is pretty basic, and we think of it more as a nice-to-have addition to the meeting and calling features, not necessarily a replacement for the likes of Slack.
This level of security is generous compared to other tools across all plans. At first glance, it looks like the Meet plan includes more options, but only encrypted recordings because it’s the only plan you can record meetings with anyway. FedRamp authorization is the deal-breaker that makes Meet plan the only option available to government agencies, education departments, or specific service providers.
If you need support while trying before you buy, you can only get it online, though they tend to get back to you promptly and professionally, as far as we’ve found. And with the Meet and Call plans, you can even get real-time technical assistance during a call.
Webex Optional Add-ons
These are the “Call me” options we mentioned. They’re only available on the Meet plan. But they might be a deal-breaker if you’re regularly dialing into calls due to a bad internet connection because being called into a meeting means you don’t have to take the trouble of typing in the meeting number or ID.
It’s available in over 70 countries, but you’ll pay significantly more if you need it globally—from $35.75 per user per month versus $4 per user per month domestically.
How Webex Ranks
All in all, Webex is relatively more expensive but more advanced in terms of security and functionality for enterprises compared to other conference call services.
It didn’t make our list of top contenders for most businesses, though. After researching and dozens of conference call services, we found seven tools great for the majority of users. Check out the complete comparison guide here.
- Nextiva – Best conference call service for most
- RingCentral – Best standalone conferencing solution
- GoToMeeting – Best for keeping your remote team cohesive
- Grasshopper – Best mobile virtual phone system
- ClickMeeting – Best for webinars and conference calls
- Zoom – Best for hosting video conference calls
- Vast Conference – Best for instant conference calls
- FreeConferenceCall.com – Best free conference call service
Although Webex’s Basic plan is limited, it offers enough functionality to be worth a try. Webex is also a no-brainer for companies using Cisco hardware, as everything integrates really well. Otherwise, just don’t expect Webex to work flawlessly all the time. Because of the price, Webex wouldn’t be the first solution we recommend to businesses looking for a basic conferencing solution, but it delivers in spades for enterprise use.