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Free PC to Phone VoIP Providers - Where'd They Go?

What ever happened to the free PC to Phone companies like HotTelephone, MediaRing and Dialpad? There was a time prior to the burst of the dotcom bubble when a number of companies offered 'free' Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls to conventional telephones in return for viewing advertisements.

hottelephone
mediaring
dialpad

Whilst the services that these companies offered wasn't outstanding (see PC World article Dec '99), the price was certainly right! Unfortunately, it would appear that this method of business practice wasn't sustainable and as a result, HotTelephone, MediaRing.com and Dialpad.com have all re-emerged based on 'pay-for-use' models.

As recently as August of 2004, Stanaphone.com offered 100 minutes/month of 'Free PC to Phone' calls to 'landline' telephones in the United States and Canada however this appears to have been a marketing gimmick aimed primarily at attracting new customers (CNET.com article June 2004). Other companie such as VoIPBuster are still offering 'free' calling to regular phones (with restrictions) however it's unlikely that these models will be sustainable due to call termination costs incurred by the service providers when their clients call regular PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) numbers.

Whilst not a 'free' service per se, VoipJet.com offers $0.25 of free usage to new customers wishing to try out their service. Whilst $0.25 may not sound like very much, at VoipJet's rates, this represents almost 15 minutes of free talk time to North American numbers. A word of warning though, VoipJet may be a little intimidating for first-time users of PC to Phone services.

Who knows what the future holds? Maybe new companies will re-explore the notion of 'free' PC to Phone calls in return for viewing advertisements or the like. In the meantime, take advantage of the numerous 'free' PC to PC VoIP applications available. If you really want to save money, try calling your friends, family and business colleagues across the globe using PC-Phone and then arrange to meet shortly thereafter online using one of the numerous PC-PC VoIP applications available. Once you and the person to whom you want to talk have the agreed PC-PC VoIP application installed, talking via the Internet is easy, convenient and completely free.

 

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