LONDON (Reuters) – Friends and families kept apart by COVID this Christmas and New Year will not find their virtual gatherings over Zoom cut short by the usual 40-minute limit for free subscribers.
Zoom Video Communications Inc, whose technology has become a feature of household get togethers in 2020’s socially distanced world, said it was removing the time limit for its free accounts on all meetings globally for the holiday season.
This covers the Christian celebrations of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the end of Hannukah for Jews and Kwanzaa marked by African-Americans, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. All of them fall in late December or early January.
The coronavirus pandemic has roared to new highs around the world during a second wave, forcing many people to stay home and plan gatherings with friends and family over the Internet instead.
“Whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the New Year, or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short,” a Zoom spokesman said.
Alphabet’s Google Meet has already said free users would not have to limit conversations to 60 minutes till March.
Microsoft Teams and Cisco’s Webex, who have usage grow during the pandemic, have so far not announced any relaxation in meeting length caps.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm; Editing by Edmund Blair)