December 7, 2005 4:04 PM PST

Yahoo makes its telecom play

Yahoo will offer two new fee-based voice over IP services so customers can make voice calls from a PC to a telephone and receive phone calls on a PC, the company said Wednesday.

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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Voice Quality Remains To Be Seen
I have been consistently disappointed with the voice quality of Yahoo Messenger, and the video chat at 1 frame-per-second is unuseable. Yahoo will need to at least match Skype's quality, even at $0.01 / minute for me to use it. What good is half price if quality is half price too? These two VoIP companies use very different network topologies. Skype runs peer-to-peer, which theoretically means it can scale well. Yahoo runs everything through their own servers, so unless they build-out ahead of demand the call quality will suffer. The great thing about Skype is that as users get faster and faster broadband pipes their extra bandwidth is shared with other Skype users so we all benefit.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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Skype is overhyped
Skype is a closed network. What is the growthin potential in that versus SIP based networks? Vonage Broadvocie Packet8 etc.

Good luck
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
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I totally agree with you
Skype is the best when it comes to PC<->PC calls. The quality is superb (and yes, I have tried AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ).

Yahoo voice chat (and video chat for that matters) simply sucks!
Posted by hetzbh (43 comments )
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