Zoom lifts its meeting time limit on free accounts for schools

26 Mar 2020

Image: © ake1150/Stock.adobe.com

Video communications company Zoom has lifted the 40-minute time limit for schools to help online learning during the Covid-19 crisis.

In the midst of global school closures and a swift move to online learning as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom has temporarily lifted the 40-minute meeting limit on free basic accounts for schools.

The video conferencing software company had already lifted the time limit on meetings in China and has now extended this to schools across a number of countries including Ireland, Canada, Germany and the UK.

A free basic account normally entitles users to unlimited meetings for up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes. Now, teachers and schools can register to have this time limit lifted to give teachers greater flexibility with online learning sessions.

According to Zoom, the temporary lift applies to K-12 schools only, or each country’s equivalent. For example, in Ireland it would apply to primary schools.

Earlier this month, the company launched Zoom Phone across Europe as demand for remote working and virtual communication continues to grow.

The cloud phone system will be as an add-on to Zoom’s platform, providing support for inbound and outbound calling with native public switched telephone network connectivity.

Zoom Phone initially launched in the US and Canada in January 2019, and quickly expanded to Australia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Puerto Rico. It is now also available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Increased demand

While Zoom is not providing specific usage figures at this time, CEO Eric Yuan commented on increased demand during the company’s Q4 earnings call on 4 March. He said: “We have seen a large increase in the number of free users, meeting minutes and new video use cases.”

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Zoom’s Farshad Hashmatulla said the team is confident Zoom’s architecture is built to handle the growing levels of activity spurred on by the Covid-19 crisis and the physical distancing measures that have been introduced in countries around the world.

“We have architected the platform such that, in the event of capacity constraints at the data centre nearest a user, additional traffic will be routed to one of our other data centres,” he said.

“In the case of an unprecedented, massive influx of demand, we have the ability to access and deploy tens of thousands of additional servers within hours, and in full compliance with our privacy policy, to seamlessly scale without any impact to our users.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic