As the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, forces businesses to send their staff home to remote work, the big players in video conferencing have spotted an opportunity to grab market share. Twitter is the latest company to have told all 5,000 of its staff to work from home and it certainly won’t be the last.
Here we list all the video conferencing offers that are currently available (as of March 2020) from the big players and a few smaller ones too. We’ll do our best to update this list over the coming months so please check back on this page or our main Covid-19 page where you will find broader advice for SMEs during these uncertain, fluid times.
Zoom is what we personally use for most of our conference calling. For free users in China they are offering unlimited meeting time for conferences with more than two participants. Zoom's default provisions are enough for most SMEs and, its free tier allows unlimited 1-to-1 meetings group sessions of up to 40 minutes and 100 participants.
Webex, as a special offer, is providing:
- Unlimited usage with no time restrictions
- Up to 100 participants per meeting
- toll-call dial-in in addition to existing VoIP capabilities.
Microsoft Teams, part of Office 365, is offering a special six-month Office 365 E1 trial that includes full meetings, collaboration and workflow capabilities. They will also enable all global customers (hospitals, schools and businesses) to start using Teams immediately.
In addition, since March 10, Microsoft rolled out updates to the free version of Teams that removes restrictions on user limits and allows users to schedule meetings for video conferencing. It supports up to 300 participants, with guest accessibility, one-on-one, and group video and audio calls, shared files (2GB per user and 10GB per team), screen sharing, and document collaboration using online Office apps.
Google isn't providing anything completely free of charge, but they are expanding what is available to all their G Suite and G Suite for Education customers. These customers can now have up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.
Typically only available to Enterprise edition customers, these features will be available at no extra cost to all customers until July 1, 2020.
Discord - The unconventional option
Discord launched their Go Live capability a a few months ago, giving people the ability to share their screen with everyone that they were in a voice chat with. There was a limit of 10 viewers at a time, but Discord has upped this limit to 50, to try and facilitate communication and socialising during periods of isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak.
So if you're a smaller company who doesn't want to get locked in to a license by some of the above options, consider launching some Discord servers for meetings. And with easy screen sharing you can even have people present as easily as if they were in the room.