Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Free video conferencing: Coronavirus spurs special deals from WebEx, Google, others

The most effective means of avoiding catching coronavirus is simply by avoiding people. That's easier said than done at work, but free video-conferencing offers from Cisco Webex, Google, Logmein, Microsoft, and Zoom are making it more affordable.

UPDATED: Twitter just told all its 5,000 workers to work from home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It wasn't the first, and it won't be the last. Your company may be next. Fortunately, many video-conferencing services are now offering free access to their services for a limited time to help make life easier during the pandemic.

Cisco's WebEx, for example, reported that traffic on its backbone connecting China-based Webex users has increased by 22 times since the outbreak began. At the same time, it's seen four to five times as many users in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with the average time spent on Webex video meetings doubling among users in those countries. Simultaneously, free signup rates in countries with infections have increased by 700% or more.

Of course, these companies aren't doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They're hoping that, after a taste of the free stuff, you'll be happy to pay for more. In the meantime, these services can help you keep in touch with your work buddies and keep your workflow flowing. For more details about these video-conferencing, see: Best business video-conferencing services.

In alphabetical order, here are some services offering special deals in response to the coronavirus:

Cisco WebEx

Long-time conferencing service WebEx's default-free plan offers you conferencing for up to three users with HD video, screen sharing on desktop and mobile devices, and limited recording options. It supports up to 50 participants per meeting, with meeti

Google Hangouts Meet

Google, with 8,000 employees in Ireland, has already put its remote working conferencing to the test when it asked for all staffers to work from home f

LogMeIn GoToMeeting

LogMeIn is another experienced video conferencing company that usually comes with a 14-day free trial. Now, according to the company, starting immediately, it will provide critical front-line service providers -- including eligible healthcare prov

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, which is more of an Office 365 feature than a separate service these days. In response to the virus threat, Microsoft is offering a new View now at Microsoft Teams

Zoom

My own particular favorite video-conferencing service, Zoom, is offering, for its Basic (free) users in China, unlimited meeting time for conferences with more than two participants. Like Microsoft Teams, its default-free offering is good enough for ma

Other major conferencing services, such as Slack and Zoho Meetings, haven't announced any special deals. I strongly suspect they and all other conferencing services will be offering new deals soon. The demand for remote-meeting software is spreading faster than the virus as worry infects the business world.

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