Google Restricts Google Meet Call Duration For Free Accounts

After a generous free period for Google Meet calls over an hour, the company is starting to charge users for them again.

Google is calling time on 24-hour long video calls using its Google Meet service for free users, at least for groups of people.

The company extended the free duration of its meetings within the service last year, when the pandemic broke, as a way to encourage communication between not only businesses, but also individuals.

The deadline for the trial has been extended several times over the past year, but now it seems the party is well and truly over (or at least limited to under an hour).

Google Meet's Free Trial

The pandemic last year saw many companies display an altruistic side, opening up their services for free, from everything to educational materials for children, telephone companies removing data caps, and even free food for essential workers.

With restrictions in place for face-to-face meetings, many video conferencing services experienced something of a boom, and suddenly a huge new market opened up for these companies – the general public. Sure, some already served them, such as Zoom, but others, like Google Meet, were only available to executive customers. In April 2020, Google announced that it was opening up Google Meet to everyone, and even better, it removed the standard one-hour cap for free users.

This was originally due to end in September 2020, but with no end in sight, it seems Google decided to keep its generous offer open. The deadline was moved to March 2021, and then June 2021. Now, according to Google's own support page, users will need to pay, if they want their calls to go beyond one hour, with a group call. One-on-one calls don't have the one hour restriction.

How Much Will Google Meet Cost Me?

If you're an individual that wants to keep on using Google Meet to catch up with friends and family without the time limit, you can expect to pay $8 per month for the service. This extends the call duration to 24 hours, and also opens up calls to up to 150 participants. Of course, if you don't want to pay, you could just hang up before your hour and call back – users receive an alert at the 55 minute mark that their call is about to terminate – but that could get a bit tiresome.

If you're a business, you can get a better deal on Google Meet for your team. Prices start at $6 per user per month, for the Starter tier, and increases relative to how many people you need to speak to at once, and for how long.

Read our full review of Google Meet

Of course, Google Meet isn't the only option in town, far from it. Competitors including Microsoft Teams, and of course, Zoom, are currently in fierce competition for our business.

You might be tempted to switch from Google Meet to a lesser known video conferencing option that is a little more generous with its time, but at Tech.co, we believe that it's worth paying a few bucks for the sake of your own data security, as well as customer support, something which you can't guarantee with some smaller, free alternatives.

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Price from
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Best for
Free plan
Audio-Conferencing
Pros
Cons

Zoho Meeting

GoTo Meeting

Zoom

RingCentral

Webex

Google Meet

Microsoft Teams

Lifesize

BlueJeans

$5/month

$4/month

$12-$16/month

Zoho users

Overall conference calling

Beginners

Longer meetings

Larger businesses

Google users

Microsoft users

Users that need hardware

Users that need customer support

Yes (paid plan) – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free

Yes – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free

Yes – Add-on audio plan allows you to add Call Out, global Toll-free & local dial-in for premium countries

Yes – Companies get a single audio conferencing bridge dial-in phone number for easy universal access.

Yes – Audio-only calls can be created when a host generates an Audio pin

Yes – Just call the number listed on the meeting invite, or join via the link and turn off your camera

Yes – but only in selected countries, and each user dialing into meetings will need an audio-conferencing license.

Yes – in a meeting contact card, users can tap the phone number under Details to call using their default phone or voice app

Yes – Easy access to audio conferencing is provided via a traditional PSTN number

  • Free – no time limit
  • Browser functionality
  • SSL/128-bit AES encryption
  • High quality video
  • Reliable and secure
  • Lower cost than competitors
  • Easy to use
  • Feature-rich free version available
  • Intuitive interface
  • Lots of customizability
  • Affordable
  • Feature-rich software
  • High quality video
  • Easy setup
  • Google Calendar compatibility
  • Saves chat logs
  • Easy integration with Google apps
  • Completely free
  • 300 participants
  • Integrates with Microsoft 365
  • 1080p video and HD audio,
  • Integrates with third-party apps
  • Good value
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Lots of features
  • Many software integrations
  • Recording costs extra
  • Weak free plan
  • Poor audio quality
  • No analytics
  • Free – no single sign-on
  • Occasional bandwidth issues
  • Spotty connectivity
  • No gallery view for guests
  • Steep learning curve
  • Unsophisticated chat function
  • Connectivity issues without update
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Written by:

Jack is the Deputy Editor for Tech.co. He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.

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