Free Video Conferencing: Google, Microsoft and others to offer free access over Coronavirus outbreak
Will CoronaVirus propel remote work?
Amidst the growing concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, several organizations have canceled their annual conferences recently — from the MWC back in February to Facebook F8 to now Google I/O — in an effort to prevent the outspread any further. Although canceling such huge events is already a significant move from these organizations’ perspectives, we have slowly started to notice some of the top companies pitch in to promote remote work to further ensure the safety of their employees.
Google Hangouts Meet
When Google announced yesterday that it is no longer holding its annual I/O conference this year, it also recognized the growing need for better productivity/collaboration tools to work better remotely. And to address this, the company said it will offer free access to the Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally. What this essentially means is that these (G Suite and G Suite for Education) customers, will now get:
- Larger meetings, for up to 250 participants per call
- Live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain
- The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive
Currently, these features are offered in the Enterprise edition of G Suite and in the G Suite Enterprise for Education. However, starting this week, all customers can get to use these features for absolutely free until July 1, 2020. [More info here]
Following Google’s footsteps, Microsoft also showed their concern over the pandemic and suggested that they will offer a free six-month trial for the premium tier of Microsoft Teams, globally. The Office 365 E1 tier offers web-based Office apps and business services, along with email, file storage and sharing, meetings, and instant messaging. Until now, the tier was being offered for a premium, however, after taking into account the coronavirus outbreak, the company decided to lift off the restrictions to non-premium users to encourage more people to work from home. Here’s what the T1 tier offers:
- Web versions of Office apps on iOS, Android, and Windows devices
- MS Outlook with 50GB mailbox per user and up to 150MB attachment limit
- Connect with Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for better teamwork
- MS Kaizala for communication and work management
- Broadcast meetings with up to 10,000 people over audio, HD video, and web conferencing
- 1TB of personal cloud storage on OneDrive for Business
Cisco, which offers one of the popular web conferencing and videoconferencing services, WebEx, suggested an increase in traffic in its backbone connecting China-based Webex users by up to 22 percent since the coronavirus outbreak. It also mentioned a 4 to 5 times increase its users from Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with their average time doubling the users from other countries. Taking into account the growing needs of users across the globe, Cisco announced it will be expanding the capabilities on its free WebEx offer to all countries [More info here]. With the new offer, users will get:
- Unlimited usage (no time restrictions)
- Supports up to 100 participants
- Offers toll dial-in (in addition to existing VoIP capabilities)
Moreover, for businesses that do not use Cisco’s Webex, the company is offering a free 90-day license to aid with better remote working capabilities during this period.
LogMeIn is yet another well-known video conferencing company which has come forward to offer its GoToMeeting software with full support for critical front-line service providers — including eligible healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and non-profit organizations — with free, organization-wide use of many LogMeIn products for three months through the availability of Emergency Remote Work Kits. This includes its flagship program, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. LogMeIn usually offered a restricted 14-day trial for its products.
With various apps and services companies taking into consideration the current scenario and addressing the growing need for better remote collaboration tools, Dialpad also announces its contribution by offering its services for free for some time. What this essentially means is that any new individual, business, or community that is looking for a way to connect with their peers or team members, can use both UberConference and Dialpad Talk for free for the next two months. The free plan will offer access to different services and features such as Voice intelligence transcribing, HD Video Meetings, Screen Sharing, International calling, and Dialpad Talk. Basically, the entire suite of features and services is free to use for the next two months. [More info here]
It is pleasing to see organizations putting health as the top-priority at such times, and coming up with solutions to better aid people in working remotely. Besides Google and Microsoft, we also recently saw a few smartphone manufacturers taking their product announcements offline to address the growing concerns of the coronavirus outbreak. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was also found re-tweeting Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s tweet saying his company carried out its first fully virtual global all-hands meeting using Google Meet and Slack — which suggests his approach towards fighting with the global outbreak.