Zoom confident it can meet Covid-fueled Christmas Day demand

LONDON – Zoom is gearing up for what could end up being its busiest day ever: Christmas Day.

Around the world, lockdowns will make traveling to see friends and family on Christmas Day complicated, and for millions, illegal.

Over 18 million people in the U.K. found out on Saturday that they can no longer see their loved ones on Christmas Day as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict new rules. London and much of southeast England were put into “Tier 4” in an effort to try to slow the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus that’s believed to be up to 70% more transmissible.

Brits instantly started discussing the prospect of a Christmas Day Zoom call, with some taking to social media to discuss the idea. Not everyone was thrilled by the prospect.

The idea of a Christmas Day Zoom quiz has also been floated in some families.

Louise Jack, a freelancer in London and a mother, told CNBC she assumes she’ll be “Zooming” with her daughter on Christmas Day. 

“She’s in Brighton and two of her housemates are stuck there too because their families are in Tier 4,” Jack said, adding that FaceTime is also an option. “We’ll make the best of it as we have done with everything this year. And we will get together and have a Christmas when we can.”

Zoom said on Dec. 16 that it would remove its 40-minute limit over the holidays for those who don’t pay for the service, helping it to compete with other video conferencing platforms like Skype, Google Meets, FaceTime, Messenger and WhatsApp. The free Zoom period includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

As a result, Christmas Day could well end up being Zoom’s busiest day ever in terms of calls. But will Zoom’s servers be able to cope with the demand? A Zoom spokesperson said the company was confident.

“We operate our own global (co-located) data centers around the globe, providing significant control and flexibility when it comes to routing both audio and video traffic,” the spokesperson told CNBC. “In addition, we work with public cloud providers to help with increased demand.”

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