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Yahoo! on the VOIP bandwagon

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday March 23, 2006 )

Yahoo! has launched a public beta of its VoIP (Voice over IP) service in the USA, bundled with its Yahoo Messenger suite.

This will allow users to make cheap calls to landlines and mobiles in around 180 countries for as little as 1c a minute. For under $3 a month or $29.90 a year, the extra Phone In feature provides a landline number in a city of the users’ choice, so that people can contact the user via landlines or cell phones.

Yahoo isn’t the only big online presence getting into Voice over IP. MSN is now testing a PC-to-phone VOIP service and AOL states PC-to-phone calling will be available later this year.

If you haven’t looked into PC to phone VoIP services as yet, I can say from personal experience that it’s an excellent way to stay in touch with overseas clients at cheap rates with minimum outlay. I set myself up with a US phone number and a VOIP USB handset, plus calling credit for under $50. Setup was simple; install the software, plug in the phone and I was up and running. It’s nice to see that Plug and Play is no longer “Plug and Pray” as it was in the early days :)

I use Skype which offers similar services to Yahoo, in fact they’ve been in the PC to phone game for a long time now (recently purchased by eBay). Their coverage is similar to Yahoo’s product, but call prices are more expensive – at the moment. It looks like Yahoo is hitting this market very aggressively. It will be interesting to see if they maintain their pricing point or force other services such as Skype to drop their rates.

Skype also offers SkypeIn for around US$ 3.60 a month (including voicemail); the same type of service as Phone-In – a phone number where others with landlines and cell phones can contact you. I’ve found this to be an especially useful feature as most of my team, clients and partners are in the USA; so it saves on their phone bills too :).

I no longer shudder when my phone bill comes in from our local telco :)

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