As Sign-ups Surge, FreeConferenceCall Scrambles to Expand

As Sign-ups Surge, FreeConferenceCall Scrambles to Expand

Dave Erickson, head of the nation's second largest telephone conferencing company, knew he had to do something to expand his services when he saw 3,000% growth in some Asian countries hit by the novel coronavirus.

Then COVID-19 hit Italy, spiking sign-ups there as well. The founder of the two-decade-old Long Beach service began putting together a plan to expand their service.


This week FreeConferenceCall announced a group calling number where people can access a dial-in number to share with friends and coworkers. The access code will be the original caller's mobile.

"This will provide conferencing for everyone in the country and give everyone an account," he said. "If the National Guard came in and locked down a one-mile radius around you, my guess is that some people would like to know they had a conference call line."

In the United States, demand for the service has spiked 2,000% over last year as anxiety wracks the country and more people are forced to work at home.

The altered reality has put companies like messaging service Slack and teleconference video company Zoom, which offered their services free to K-12 schools, at center stage as employers send their workers home.

Erickson said he is talking to undisclosed government officials to see what they can do with the lines.

Teleconferencing services like FreeConferenceCall have long been used by megachurches to hold marathon prayer sessions. They've been a lifeline for some during disasters like Katrina, Erickson says. They're even favored during presidential campaigns to gather large numbers of people on the phone, in part because it's free, unlike Zoom and other services.

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Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

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