Monday, December 12, 2005

Yahoo! Offers 1 Cent/Minute PC-to-PSTN Calling

Yahoo! launched the international public beta trial of its real-time communications suite, Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, a PC-based VoIP service that enables users to place calls to traditional or mobile phones in the U.S. for about one U.S. cent a minute, and make calls to more than 30 other countries for less than about two U.S. cents per minute.

Local versions have been made available in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore and Spain. The U.S. version is expected to launch in early 2006.

Key capabilities of Yahoo! Messenger with Voice include:

  • Phone Out: International audiences can make low cost calls to more than 180 countries from their PC to traditional phones and mobile phones. Prepaid credit plans are available.

  • Phone In: The Phone In service gives international audiences the ability to receive calls on their PC from traditional and mobile phones. For about U.S. $2.99 a month or about U.S. $29.90 a year, people can select a personal phone number, and receive incoming calls at no additional charge. For instance, Hong Kong residents, who have friends and family in San Francisco, are able to choose a local San Francisco-based phone number. When remote friends and family make calls to the personal number, they will be charged for placing a local phone call to that phone number. People can choose to have multiple phone numbers, and wherever they travel, their phone numbers will follow them. In the beta service, country-based phone numbers are initially available in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States with additional country-based numbers available in the coming months.

  • Contact Search Bar: The new Contact Search Bar provides a fast way to find and quickly connect with friends and family. As people type their friends' names, Yahoo! IDs, phone numbers, nicknames or any other information stored in their contact details, matching results will automatically populate the Contact Search Bar. People then choose how they want to communicate with their friend, whether it is through text IM, voice calling, e-mail or mobile text messaging.

  • Open Talk: By setting the status message to ‘Open Talk,' people will allow their friends to instantly connect to them via a PC-to-PC voice conversation at any time. Because there is a direct connection, there is no need to accept an incoming call request. This is a great solution for working parents to have a consistent connection with their kids at home or for sports fans to communicate with each other while watching the big game on TV.

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice offers Webcam functionality and animated emoticons. It also integrates with other Yahoo! services including games, music, photos and search.
  • In June 2005, Yahoo! acquired DialPad, a provider of Internet Telephony services. Financial terms were not disclosed. At the time, Yahoo! said it planned on leveraging Dialpad's PSTN calling capabilities to add to Yahoo! Messenger's recently enhanced PC-to-PC voice calling offering.

See also