VoIP service is a fickle beast. There are hundreds of different services, all offering something slightly different from the rest. So, for those looking for honestly free VoIP service, it might come as no surprise that finding the right one is not a straightforward task. Of course, most services are entirely free. Ignoring the branded ‘Home VoIP Phone Service” companies like Vonage and ViaTalk, there are plenty of simple applications that with the right equipment can help you bypass the big bad corporate giants.
Skype has been around for awhile now and is the best known and most popular of all VoIP services, paid or unpaid. With a simple download, users can start talking to any other Skype users in the world for free. The only catch is that the other user must have Skype installed and be talking from a computer. While Skype does allow users to call landlines, that’s where the charges start to come in. However, with a few years of successful service, easy to use software and decent call quality, Skype is a great free VoIP option.
VoIPCheap is similar to Skype in that it is a simple software download that operates solely on the computer. However, VoIPCheap goes one step further in that it offers free phone calls to land telephone lines in many countries around the world. There are a few paid locations though and if you use more than 300 minutes on a single IP address in one week, fees will apply. However, for those with limited phone usage and friends in any of the countries they support, VoIPCheap does offer free calling.
Offering a very slick interface and a simple software download, Gizmo is similar to Skype in that it allows users a PC based calling application for use with any other Gizmo users. Additionally, their service allows users to place calls to other Gizmo users’ home and mobile phones with their “All Calls Free” plan. However, users should read through the terms of service here first as there are a variety of carefully worded clauses and rules that might result in fees being applied to your account.
Like many other Instant Messenger services offering voice chat, Windows Live is a straightforward and well crafted service. It allows any Windows Live members to talk with each other via Messenger for free for as long as they want. The only catch is that if a user decides to call a landline or mobile telephone number there are rates applicable. Also, those calls are expected to be kept under 5 minutes in length, making this is a less viable VoIP option, if looking to replace the home phone.
Raketu is a relatively new service combining numerous concepts and services into a single site with a definitive image. Their site allows free calls between your computer and landlines/mobiles in 42 different countries. Additionally, users can use the relatively new and still in development TV streaming service that allows users to discuss television shows in real time. While everything is technically free on Raketu, you will be required to pay an upfront fee of $9.95 as a deposit before making any calls. This money is used to cover any calls you might make to a location not covered in their free calling list.
There are numerous other free applications in development or use at the moment that millions use at any given time. Google Talk currently offers only Voice Mail options, but has in the past and will likely in the future reintegrate VoIP service to its client. Yahoo! offers voice chat as well, though theirs is notoriously slow due to the high volume of their services. Regardless, there are plenty of options for those individuals looking to stay away from the high priced, unnecessary fees of the phone companies. If you’re interested in making free calls, a quick download and a new headset should be all you need.