The Best Performing Video Chat Services, According to the ACCC

The Best Performing Video Chat Services, According to the ACCC
Image: Getty Images

Many office workers have had to adjust to new working arrangements due to the impact of coronavirus. Principally, that has meant a heavy reliance on video chat and conferencing services. Australia’s consumer law regulator, the ACCC, has released a new report highlighting which service has worked best so far.

The ACCC’s first Critical Service report was released on 8 July and offers a look at how the NBN serviced Australians in May when compared to figures from February .

It looked at six popular video chat services and measured the latency — how responsive or laggy it is — to weigh up which works best.

Services included in the report were Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex and GoToMeeting. The data was captured between 8 May and 31 May and found Skype, Teams and Google Meet performed the best and most consistently.

Image: ACCC

The ACCC’s graphs show the latency of the three services remained low — meaning less lag — and it was likely due to the servers being located locally rather than overseas.

“Google Meet, Skype and Teams exhibit significantly lower latency than the other services measured as these services use servers located in Australia,” the report read.

“Zoom, Webex and GoToMeeting use servers based in the United States, the Netherlands and Singapore respectively.”

The report explained that peak evening times increase marginally but it wouldn’t be enough for a user to really notice.

How well your video conferencing experience fared, according to the report, also came down to where you lived in Australia. The report’s graphs indicated that Western Australians had higher latency across Google Meet and Teams, suggesting the services were relying on East Coast servers. Skype, however, offered a more consistent latency value.

Image: ACCC

When it came to options with overseas servers, the results showed far higher latency values. As expected, the further away the country, the worse the potential disruption was.

“GoToMeeting targets Singapore and thus Western Australia has the lowest latency for this platform,” the report outlined.

“The converse is true for Zoom which targets servers in the United States. Here Western Australia has the highest figures.”

Image: ACCC

The findings show that while a slow internet speed is usually blamed for unexpected dropouts in meetings, where a video conferencing service’s server is located makes a big difference too. If it’s constantly affecting the quality of your meetings, it might be time to try a different tact.

Update 8 July 2020: Cisco has claimed the ACCC’s report contains inaccuracies, stating that its Webex service uses a server in Sydney.

Cisco spokesperson:

“The report appears to claim that Australian Webex users use a server based in the Netherlands (page 14). This is not the case. The report overlooks the fact that Cisco has invested in a Webex data centre in Sydney for Australian customers, as was reported by the media in March 2019 and published by Cisco. When connecting to Cisco Webex Sydney data centre, latency is significantly less than what is claimed in the report.”

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