We recently released multi-party video conferencing in the OnSIP app, which allows up to five users to join a free video conference. Prior to this release, users could only initiate two-way video chats with another contact. Now, up to five people can join a conference directly in their browser window with no plugins or downloads required.
Group video calling is free for all OnSIP app users. It’s a great way to host company-wide conference calls, or just to connect with your co-workers at other locations. Instead of signing in to a third party video conferencing app, you can now use your everyday business webphone to instantly connect with your team.
What’s different about OnSIP’s video conferencing?
Group video conferencing in the OnSIP app is entirely P2P (peer-to-peer), and relies on each of the users having a WebRTC video endpoint. When you join a video conference, you are actually setting up an individual call between yourself and each of the other participants. This is what we call a "full mesh” system, as opposed to using an MCU (Multipoint Conferencing Unit) or SFU (Selective Forwarding Unit). In both of these systems, there is a central entity that receives all of the video streams and sends them back to each user.
The advantages of full mesh conferences are that it requires very little backend infrastructure, and in turn are less expensive to maintain. However, there is a limit to how many participants can join the conference, because the quality of the individual video streams depends on how much bandwidth your browser can support.
How to Start a Group Video Call
To start a free video conference in the OnSIP app, select “Conference” on the drop-down menu in the top left corner.
In the text box, enter a name for the conference and click “Conference” to launch it. You should now see your video feed in the bottom left-hand corner, similar to a regular two-way video chat.
Now that you have created a conference ‘room’, there are two ways to invite others to join. If the other participants have OnSIP app accounts, they can go directly to their Conference page and type in the exact name of your conference to join.
You can also have someone join the conference by sending them the unique video conference link, which can be found by hovering over the link icon on the bottom right corner. This link opens up a new browser window and allows anyone to join the video conference as an “anonymous” user. Invited guests can type their name into the text box before joining the conference.
Up to five users can join a video conference at any time. The video quality of each feed may differ depending on the browser bandwidth of each participant. Within each conference, users can put themselves on hold, mute their video or audio feed, adjust the volume, or leave the conference. The call will remain active until all users have left the conference.
Recurring Video Collaboration Made Easy
The group video calling feature in the OnSIP app is a great way to host regular video chats with your team. Once you’ve created a video conference name, it will remain available to all registered OnSIP users on your account at any time.
For example, we created a video conference called “all-hands” for our weekly Friday meeting. Each week, our three offices simply type “all-hands” into the Conference page to join the video feed. This way, there’s no need to create and share a new conference link every time. However, since it’s limited to five users, we typically use a separate conference bridge for the actual audio phone call so that more people can join the call.
Plus, if you use our new Slack channel chat integration, you can share your video conference link with your team in just a few clicks. Free video calling has never been easier!