December 7, 2005 4:04 PM PST
Yahoo makes its telecom play
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Called Phone Out and Phone In, the new VoIP services are part of Yahoo Messenger with Voice.
The Phone Out service will enable users to make calls from a PC to traditional or mobile phones in more than 180 countries. Calls will cost $0.01 per minute to the U.S. and less than $0.02 per minute to more than 30 international countries, including Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea. Pre-paid credit plans will be available in $10 and $25 increments.
The Phone In service will enable users to receive calls on a PC from traditional or mobile phones for $2.99 a month or $29.90 a year. Users can have multiple phone numbers to use when they travel. They also can choose a phone number in a different country so that people who call them from that area will be charged only for a local phone call.
A new Contact Search Bar will allow users to easily find their contacts and communicate with them through instant text message, voice calling, e-mail or mobile text message. An Open Talk feature will maintain a constant direct connection so with the click of an icon, people can instantly start PC-to-PC voice conversations.
The beta version of the new services will launch simultaneously in seven localized versions within countries including the United States, Spain, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore and Germany, but a Yahoo representative could not say when.
Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger offer free PC-to-PC calling and the ability to communicate with each others' networks. Yahoo also offers PC-to-PC video calling, which eBay's Skype unveiled last week.
Sony launched a free VoIP service last month with video calling and America Online launched PC-to-phone capabilities in October. Google launched its PC-to-PC call-enabled Google Talk instant messenger program in August.
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