Briiing briiing. It’s for you. It’s big savings. Technology has changed drastically over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is humanity’s love for nattering at each other over long distances. Email makes it easy and cheap to communicate with loved ones who are on the other side of the country, but nothing can take the place of a meaningful telephone call. But how do you make those calls without having to worry about the minutes ticking down and the dollars piling up? Thankfully, a number of new services let you make free phone calls online over the Internet.
The best way to get started: Familiarize yourself with some of the many ways to make calls at zero cost online, as all offer different features, technology and services. As an example, there are VoIP (Voice-Over IP) programs galore that let you perform unlimited PC-to-PC calls, as well as alternate solutions that allow for PC-to-phone connections, videoconfrencing or video chats, and a variety of apps and services that offer unique calling capabilities. Keep in mind that you may need to download software to make these calls, though the necessary programs are usually free. More importantly, some VoIP telephone services do not support emergency 911 calls, or connect to standard operator reference services. Whichever software you choose to make calls with, confirm that it supports 911 at the very least. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to consider keeping a land line handy for emergencies.
That said, if you’re looking to put pro bono calling capabilities on speed dial, here are five of the many ways that you can now make free phone calls on the Internet.
Google Voice – Google Voice can be used on any Web browser, and it’s also available as a stand-alone app for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone. Essentially, the call management service lets you sign up for one number that can ring all your lines (cell, home, office, etc.) and alternately lets you connect to a destination phone for free. However, calls are limited to three hours in length (after which you will be disconnected, but can simply connect again), and they’re only free as long as you call numbers based in the United States and Canada. If you call foreign countries outside of North America, you’ll be charged a per-minute fee.
Google Talk – Google Talk is a free browser plug-in that allows for unlimited PC-to-PC calls, and free PC-to-phone calls. If you want to make any kind of phone call via your PC, you need to have a microphone headset, which can be purchased at any electronics store.
iCall – With iCall’s software, you can make free calls from your PC to the recipient’s phone. The computer you call from can be located anywhere in the world, but in order for the call to remain free, the recipient must be in the United States or Canada. The program is very easy to use, though calls are limited to five minutes, and you must listen to a ten-second advertisement every time you re-connect.
Skype – Skype is probably the best-known name in VoIP technology. Many people have Skype accounts, which makes it easy to perform PC-to-PC calls. Skype is also great for videoconferencing and video calls, and it has a useful text-based Internet chat service.
FreeBuzzer – Unlike most programs let you make free phone calls over the Internet, FreeBuzzer doesn’t limit you to the United States and Canada: You can make free calls to over 40 countries by utilizing phone-connecting software that’s similar to Google Voice. Your calls are limited to a brief two minutes, and you can only make three free calls in a day, but FreeBuzzer is still a good option if you want to say a quick hello to an overseas friend. Also, the company’s mascot is a mosquito. Charming!
For more help with making free phone calls, visit: