Free Video Conferencing Offered
By SCARLET PRUITT
(IDG) -- With thousands of people left stranded by a halt in air travel across the United States following last week's
terrorism attacks in New York and Washington D.C., some videoconferencing providers are reporting a surge in use of
their services, while others are responding by offering free video conferencing to those affected by the tragedy.
Although limited travel resumed in parts of the United States on Thursday, some conferences and meetings have been
canceled here and abroad in the wake of the four hijackings and subsequent plane crashes on September 11.
Given the travel restrictions, companies are reporting an increase in videoconferencing, as people look for
communication alternatives to in-person meetings. A representative for conference services provider V-Span estimated
that use of their services increased from 30 percent to 50 percent Tuesday following the attacks. Meanwhile, Web
conference software maker SpartaCom said that it expects an increase in demand for its product in light of recent
Some video conference providers are offering their services for free to aid survivors and their loved ones and advance
Communication broadcasting and technology provider MCSi said last week it has allied with video conference equipment
maker PictureTel to offer free use of their hundreds of affiliated video conference facilities across North America and
around the world.
MCSi said that it will offer its services to those that need to conduct remote medical consultations, family visits,
patient outreach and emergency relief meetings, among other disaster-related conferences.
"We know how powerful and easy it is to use these facilities and during this time, when people do not want to fly;
we thought it would be the right thing to do (to provide free services)," an MCSi spokeswoman said Friday.
MCSi has 25 facilities in the United States and Canada, and PictureTel, through its worldwide affiliates, can offer
access to hundreds of other video conference facilities around the globe.
E.mergent Inc.'s Acoustic Communications Systems division also announced that it is opening its videoconferencing
facilities in Minneapolis and Chicago for free to families affected by the attacks. International Video-Conferencing,
in New York, Net2000 Communications Inc. in Washington, and RoData in Pittsburgh have allied with E.mergent to
implement and receive the video calls, the company said.
Besides providing video conferencing services to survivors and their friends and family, another company, Expertcity,
is offering unlimited free use of its telework service, GoToMyPC, in hopes of aiding people who need to access and work
from their PCs while stranded.
GoToMyPC is software that lets users control their PCs from remote locations via a Web browser. The company said
Wednesday that it will be offering the software without cost for 30 days.
Free use of GoToMyPC is available at www.gotomypc.com.
Victims of Tuesday's attacks can call E.mergent's Wayne Lusthoff at +1-877-776-0227, for use of its free video
conferencing services,. MCSi can be reached at by clicking the "Video Relief" tab on the company's site at
www.mcsinet.com, or by calling Terry Carr at +1-800-875-5211, extension 7720.
Joris Evers in IDG New Service's Amsterdam bureau contributed to this report.