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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1239 . How can I make free calls?

Joe does a lot of long distance calling.  He wants to save money and not use all of his calling minutes on his limited cell phone plan.  Is there a phone service that allows him to make free local and long-distance calls while home?
There are a number of free or low-cost telephone services that work using your high-speed internet connections.  We personally use a combination of these services.
Ken previously provided a tip about Skype, which works great with video and audio calls but provides free calls only between two computers. That is, the call must be originated on a computer, and both sides of the conversation must be running the Skype application on the computer.  You can’t call a regular land line or wireless phone unless you pay additional fees. You can't originate a Skype call from a land line without paying extra fees to Skype, either.
Google Voice has a great free service that allows you to call phone lines, but the calls must be initiated on a computer. We’ll discuss Google Voice in more detail in several other tips. If you are technically savvy and can live with initiating calls to phones from your computer, Google Voice is a great, free option.
OBiHai Technologies  has released a hardware device that allows you to use a regular telephone to make Google Voice calls.  You aren’t required to have a computer to make and receive the calls, and for $50 or so, you get free calling over Google Voice. Ken uses and loves this device (he has the Obi202, which costs slightly more than Obihai's cheapest device).
There are a ton of Voice over IP (Or VOIP) providers that will supply service for a very low per-minute cost. You can start your search here.
CostCo currently sells a product called Ooma that provides free calling, similar to Google Voice using the Obihai box, except that you must pay monthly taxes and fees.
Magic Jack and Vonage provide similar services, for a monthly fee.

There are tons of options. Choosing the right one for you requires a bit of research, however. (You must also have a reasonably reliable and speedy broadband connection.)

Note that you may not use VOIP phone lines for 911 calls, in almost every case.

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