In a challenge to VOIP market leader Skype, Yahoo is launching a beta of its VOIP calling service in the United States, dubbed Yahoo Messenger with Voice, enabling Yahoo Instant Messaging Users to place VOIP calls from their computers to mobile phone and landlines as well as traditional computer-to-computer VOIP calls. Users can place calls to traditional phones in more than 180 countries; calls within the U.S. and to 30 other countries are priced at two cents a minute or lower (rates to other countries vary widely); in addition, U.S. customers can receive phone calls from traditional phones on their computers (“Phone In”) for a subscription fee of $2.99 a month, or $29.99 a year.
“Yahoo’s top priority is to provide a stellar communications service through a variety of easy, fun and inexpensive ways to stay connected with others around the world,” said Brad Garlinghouse, Yahoo’s VP of Communications Products. “We look forward to further incorporating voice features into Yahoo’s global services, from communications to search, to help simplify and improve the Internet experience for our hundreds of millions of users around the world.”
Phone In subscribers are able to choose a personal phone number when they sign up and receive incoming phone calls at no additional charge. Users are also able to select the locality for the personal phone number: in an example given by Yahoo, a Phone In subscriber in New York could choose a local number in London, and all his/her London friends could call via Yahoo’s Phone In service as if they were making a local call within London. Yahoo enables users to have multiple phone numbers: currently, Phone In numbers are available for the U.K., France, and the United States, although Yahoo says numbers in other countries will be available in the future.
Yahoo Messenger with Voice is available for Windows users; Yahoo has not published any specific system requirements, nor indicated when or if Yahoo Messenger with Voice will be available for other platforms.