Business VoIP Featured Article

Zoom Makes Its Platform Free to K-12 Schools in the U.S., Italy and Japan

March 17, 2020

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Business VoIP Contributor

National emergencies bring pain to many industries, but provide significant opportunities to others. In the wake of the country’s response to the COVID-19 virus, which is shuttering school systems across the country, companies that supply video conferencing technology are falling into the latter category. The need for e-learning is higher than ever, and many educators are concerned about both the costs and availability of conferencing and collaboration platforms.

Zoom, a remote conferencing services company headquartered in San Jose, California, provides remote conferencing services that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration. As of the middle of last week, 343,000 people globally had downloaded the Zoom app, compared to just 90,000 people two months ago. Zoom is reporting that the rise in global daily active users (DAUs) rose 67 percent since January of this year.

There is no doubt that the global pandemic is likely to both benefit and test the company, which has seen its shares rise 77 percent since it went public in April 2019. Many nursing homes, locked down to visitors, are using the Zoom app to link patients and their loved ones in the absence of in-person visits.

Last week, Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, announced that Zoom would be making its services free of charge to the nation’s K through 12 schools. While the app allows for free limited use, the company is lifting any caps for schools. It has eliminated the time limits for free accounts for users in regions affected by the outbreak, and removed all limitations for public schools in Japan, Italy and the U.S., with more countries to come, it said.

"Given that many K-12 schools are starting closing, we decided to offer Zoom access to all K-12 schools in the country starting tomorrow," Yuan wrote in an email.

Educators can sign up for the free account by filling out a form on the company’s web site to remove the 40 minute time limit for anyone on the school’s domain (after verification). Important to note: personal email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook are not eligible for the temporary program.

So the question is…will Zoom be able to keep up with traffic demands during the crisis period? According to an interview Yuan gave to Forbes last week, Zoom’s 17 data centers all across the world have thus far been able to cope with the increased volume of video conferences and calls.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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