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Yahoo! Messenger Gets Phone Service 92

prostoalex writes to tell us that Yahoo! has launched a new phone service attached to their Messenger service. From the article: "The calls have to be initiated from a PC, but can be made to traditional landline phones and cellphones. Yahoo customers can receive calls from those phones, as well. Yahoo will charge 2 cents a minute for domestic calls, on top of the monthly $2.99 fee. Per-minute charges to 180 other countries will vary. It won't charge to receive calls."
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Yahoo! Messenger Gets Phone Service

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  • Cheap domestic calls are easy to get these days. Vonage, Skype, Cell Phones, etc all make it easy to call anyone in the USA (or at least 48 continental states). Its internation calls that are still a bit expensive. Granted things have gotten better as most international calls can be made for less than $0.50/minute and some in the low $0.20/minute. I remember when a phone call could cost upwards of $3/minute! Ouch!
    • Check out Broadvoice [].

      I can't offer any insight into the quality of their service, as I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but I've heard good things....

    • Packet8 [] has most international calls for less than $0.10/minute, most of Europe for less than $0.05. I don't know where you are getting the $0.50/minute - even the old phone companies don't charge that much anymore...
    • Ya the most annoying part of our blessed freedom is that 'they' have the freedom to make us pay more.
      It cost .02 euro per minute to call from germany to america, but then .60 dollars per minute.

      gotta love it
    • I remember the times when "we Europeans" envied the US for their cheap phone rates. But "in the low $0.20/minute" sounds awfully expensive (and with the proper 1010-number you should be able to even get into the For instance, a call from Germany to the US -- 0,97 *Cents* per Minute these days, regardless of daytime -- can be even cheaper than a domestic call within Germany depending on the actual hour.

      So, if that is sufficient for the call-by-call provider to make money even though these providers usuall

    • You need to shop for a better calling card. These days you can find calling cards on the Net with targeted areas: calls to China, calls to Brazil, calls to Eastern Africa, etc.

      In 1997 the best per minute rate available from the Continental US to Malawi was $3.55. In the last ten years we watched the price we were paying drop through $1.25, $0.90, $0.75, $0.35, $0.125... Today I pay $0.07 with no "connection fee".

      I haven't been able to find a VOIP solution that comes close to that. (PC to PC calls are not
    • About a year ago, my parents returned from living in Japan for 18 months While they lived there, Yahoo was their broadband and phone service provider. When we needed to talk to them, we would email to set up the time and they would call us. They only paid .02 a minute to call the US. We paid .25 if we called them. Cheap International Rates, Bring it on Yahoo!
  • by flogic42 ( 948616 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:07PM (#14975448) Homepage
    Screw $0.02/minute, Ventrilo [] is free and much less likely to be wiretapped!
  • Is there really any market for this? I know I definitely wouldn't want to be tied to my PC every time I wanted to make or receive a phone call.
    • Does this not seem like anything new or special to anyone else? Yahoo doesn't seem like they are effectivly competing, or maybe they just do a bad job marketting and branding.
    • Starting Skype...

      4,782,369 users online
    • There are a fair number of wireless Skype phones which have come out recently - Skype offers a similar service to what Yahoo! are doing now. However, it does require that the computer be constantly on - perhaps this will create a demand for mini-servers (which can potentially act as a hub for any other computerised services).
    • I'm guessing it's for people who use a cell phone primarily, and have cut off their landline, but want a backup in case they risk going over their allotted minutes. Also, international calls will probably be a bit cheaper than those made via cell (for example, Cingular currently charges 50 cents a minute to Canada on standard plans--Yahoo can probably beat this). I don't think they plan on anyone using this as their PRIMARY phone--it's just a supplement to the shortcomings of current cell plans.
    • Are you kidding? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Potor ( 658520 )
      voip is a godsend to those of use who constantly need to make intercontinental phone calls on our own nickle. skype has saved me so much money - hell, i used it for a year's worth of hour-long conversations between thailand and canada ... and now between belgium and canada.
  • Doggone it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:07PM (#14975450)
    I need clients that talk to one another, not 12 different clients that don't. Skype, Yahoo, Windows Messenger, AIM, Google Talk..hey you clowns, I can't run all these clients at once.
    • Re:Doggone it (Score:3, Informative)

      by IANAAC ( 692242 )
      I need clients that talk to one another, not 12 different clients that don't.

      That's where SIP comes in. It's been around for awhile and there are many, many clients on every platform from which to choose. You may not like the format of the contact you're trying to call, but it works pretty reliably.

  • Who's Calling? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kidcorporeal ( 960207 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:08PM (#14975459)
    We still don't have effective Caller ID for VoIP. So who's going to take these calls from your computer besides people who *know* you are calling or your dentists office? You can't use it for anything but calling grandma. Don't get me wrong, VoIP on your system is a wonderful thing, but Skype was just worthless when I'd have to make a business call and my client would say to me "Oh, I didn't know +000001234 was you." I expect the same from Google, Yahoo, or any other player looking to break into the market. Until they have CallerID implemented correctly (and *not* hackable!) it's not ready for prime-time.
    • Yeah, I mean who accepts an email unless you can first identify the sender...oh

      (I do kinda take your point, but if it gets cheap enough....)
    • It's always hackable (Score:4, Informative)

      by wurp ( 51446 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:29PM (#14975661) Homepage
      and *not* hackable!
      It's always hackable []. Your grandma can hack caller id on a regular phone. Your standards are higher for the brand new technology?
    • Re:Who's Calling? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grasshoppa ( 657393 )
      Say it with me now: Skype != Voip

      I have no problems with my callerid from my * box over voip lines.
    • Re:Who's Calling? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by windowpain ( 211052 )
      Wait--let me get this right. None of your friends and none of your clients will even pick up the phone unless they can see who's calling? Who are your freaking clients, the Sopranos?
      • I don't answer the phone to Unknown Callers.

        My mom comes up as an unknown caller, and I have no Mr Smithers to take care of it.

      • Count me in as someone who doesn't answer their phone for people they don't know. Unlike the poster above, I don't just limit it to calls that show up "unknown". If I don't recognize the number and I'm not expecting a call from a number I won't recognize, I don't answer. Let them leave a message. If I'm around my computer, I'll Google the number to see if I can find out who/what it is. If I'm not (or I can't find it) and they don't leave a message, then I don't bother.
    • I do agree that the outgoing CallerID for Skype is a problem for professional users, however Skype can be useful as a voicemail service. I use a program called WiSPA for Skype [] that sends me SMS alerts and allows me to check my Skype voicemail from my cell phone. In this way, I can have seperate outgoing messages for business and personal use wihout maintaining two lines. It also has features tha allow me to route my Skype calls to other numbers or use my cell to make international calls at Skype rates.
    • This doesn't affect all VoIP. Vonage, for example, sends out valid caller ID.
  • It won't charge to receive calls.

    So I don't have to pay for the calls I can't receive anyway, since the first part tells me that the calls have to initiate from the PC?
    • If you'll RTFM, you note that it mentions 'getting a local number', as well as 'The calls have to be initiated from a PC, but can be made to traditional landline phones and cellphones. Yahoo customers can receive calls from those phones, as well.'

      What they are saying is that you as a customer of Yahoo, to use their service, have to use their PC softphone to make and receive calls - eg they dont provide (or support) ATAs to connect to a real phone, like most VoiP providers do.
  • While I commend Yahoo! for trying out a new service, this pricing scheme is just 50 minutes better than the basic package offered from Vonage (just as reference). If you look at the softphone offering from other vendors, I think that this Yahoo! service might be on par, if not slightly more/less expensive.

    Good work Yahoo! ... good luck as well.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:09PM (#14975469)
    Just when you got used to 10 digit dialing, now even more ways to get a phone number. I'm sure we'll be running out of numbers in the next 10 years and see more digits added. Or will phone numbers become like social security numbers? You register and have one for life.

    How many digits in a chinese phone number? Is their system capable of handling billions of numbers?
    • "digits"? please.
      the thing that annoys me most about what many of the VoIP people are doing is their insistence on keeping the worst part of the network - unintelligent, uninformative, unintuitive identifiers. direct-dial numbers were wonderful a few decades ago - the ability to have modern phone numbers was huge. but we should be done with that by now. especially aggravating the VoIP providers who give me things that look just like phone numbers, but aren't (as in: aren't routable on the PSTN). people - ev
    • by gwlc ( 658224 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:19PM (#14976110)
      China has a complex system.

      There are some city with 10 digital number such as:Beijing, Shanghai. You have to dail 10 XXXX-XXXX. Attention, The 10 is area code and the 8 digital is your local number. Most of the cities in china have 3 area code with 7 local number just like North American and those cities are face the shortage of number, so they want to change the local to 8 digital.

      for mobile, you have 135-XXXX-XXXX. the first 3 digital are limited to some different operator, such as 135,136 belong to china moblie,133 belong to CDMA network. The next 4 digitals used as area code which you can know where this calling coming from.

      There are alot of change and many "new" technical. I had left china for 4 years, so just for your reference.
    • I imagine your future phone number will be something like this:


      We'll have to add a few more keys to the keypad. But your phone will no longer be georpahic-location based.
  • It's nice to see further competition in the IP telephony area.

    Skype is great, but it doesn't have the brand that Yahoo has. I can't imagine my mother downloading Skype, and calling overseas with it. But she's known about Yahoo messenger since the late 90's and has even chatted with distant friends. She would notice this functionality.

    -- Jim []
    • Re:Competition (Score:2, Interesting)

      by calculadoru ( 760076 )
      No Skype fanboi here, but MAN is their video and audio quality better than YM. Absolutely no comparison, whatsoever. The Yahoo servers are down most of the time and video simply refuses to work ('server too busy, try connecting later'), or when it does it's all choppy and frequently crashes the whole app - as for audio, it really isn't all that good. Haven't looked back since Skype released version 2.0 with added video, it works perfectly for me, under any circumstances.
      Mind you, I'm only talking about PC t
  • Service evolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:10PM (#14975477) Homepage Journal
    Phone service for $2.99 monthly won't make people run out and replace their traditional phones. But, "we see a continual chipping away at the traditional model," says Maribel Lopez, an analyst with Forrester Research. "And this really hurts the future phone business."

    The future of the traditional model will continue to drift as it has been, to mobile phones and broadband digital services. Yet another milestone on the path to having a unified telecom service provider stick just one line into your home for everything.
    • I doubt there will even be a line! Everything is moving more and more towards wireless broadband. Why not? There's no hassle of waiting for the cable guy. The only people who really do _have_ to show up are the electrical and water utilities. I know in Toronto the electrical company is offering WIFI as a way to read their soon-to-be-installed smart meters.

      The point being that soon enough data will be considered data regardless of the content. The company who can provide the cheapest and most effective se

  • by B00yah ( 213676 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:15PM (#14975519) Homepage
    With their partnership with SBC/ATT? Last time I checked, sbc's dsl was "sbc-yahoo dsl". Wouldn't selling a voip level product be a stab in the back of your partner? Maybe it's just me.
  • Let's take a look a what Yahoo has to offer compared to Skype: Cheaper: No Handset available: No SkypeIn equilivent: Unknown, but the article doesn't allude to the possibility Obnoxious Yahoo Messenger advertising: Yes I guess it sounds good to Yahoo faithfuls who have been living in a cave and don't know about Skye, but why should I switch?
    • Where does Yahoo Messenger advertise? I prefer YIM over AIM specifically because AIM obnoxiously advertises and YIM does not.
      • I can't say anything about the advertising, as I haven't used the client in years, but the fact that the default install includes extra junk, suck as the yahoo toolbar, rubs me the wrong way. I only know this because I've known people who install the messenger program, and start asking me where the toolbar came from. I know it's easy enough to remove, or uncheck the box, but it's a pain anyway.
        • Yeah, it's pretty terrible that Yahoo makes you uncheck a box in return for a FREE piece of very functional software containing no advertising.
    • Lets examine your statements shall we?
      - Yahoo Messenger is...cheaper. I looked...almost all the international calling rates are cheaper. This is this a bad thing how?
      - Yahoo Messenger handset. It just came out today. I am sure there will be plenty available.
      - Yahoo Messenger SkypeIn equivalant. Try reading the page before making a comment. Read: [] more carefully. This feature is there...and not only is it there, it is cheaper and doesn't require a mini
  • I've been a Yahoo messenger user since 2000, and I distinctly remember being able to place PC-Phone calls using Yahoo Messenger since about 2002.

    I quickly scanned through versions of older [] features to see if I could find a page where they advertised this as a feature, but couldn't find it.

    I certainly do see a "Call Center" to "Place Net2Phone call" on the current version of Windows Yahoo messenger 7.0 I have. So what's new with this? I didn't find this a groundbre

    • I remember this as well. Before the dot.bomb and recession, you could even place free long-distance PC to landline calls (I live in Minnesota and called my cousin in Seattle once). I also remember them turning it into a pay-service, far before Vonage or Skype.
  • >> ringgg > click
  • Slightly off-topic..

    I would like to save money by switching to VOIP but all the horror stories [] I hear from customers of Vonage, Sunrocket etc scare me.

    Is this just a case of small but vocal minority or is VOIP still not ready for primetime? Any advice will be appreciated.

    • Not affiliated, just a happy customer. I have been using Vonage for at least a couple years now on a Cox cable account. It has been perfect. Not one moment of downtime that wasn't caused by Cox network problems, not one dropped call, no static, no cutting in and out, just perfect. The router they sent has QOS that you can turn on so even if I am maxing out my connection, if a call comes in or is placed, it throttles everything else down to give the call the bandwith it needs. There are also a couple ot
    • I have been using the vonage service on comcast cable for about year now. I havent had any issues with the service itself. I did have a horrible time when the box went out and I needed to get it replaced. Other than that the service has been working just great for me. I have no doubts that some people may have real issues with the service, but are they attributed to vonage or their isp/equipment?
    • The key is to understand that each type of VoIP service has different amounts of control of network bandwidth/latency. For instance Skype has to traverse the Internet without much assurance of quality, but if your cable company is providing a VoIP service then it is likely to be much more reliable as they can secure the quality. I would not get rid of a landline for Skype, but will when my cable company rolls out VoIP.
    • While there are still hurdles to mainstream acceptance (E911 service, must have Internet connectivity to use any kind of VoIP--meaning it won't replace a cell phone for when you are out and about just yet--and so on), VoIP quality is getting pretty good. Since I haven't used any of the major VoIP providers' services, I can't comment on how good Vonage, Skype, etc.'s VoIP implementations are, but I have set up my own VoIP server using Asterisk on a Linux box and the quality of this set up was quite good. C
    • I started with Vonage about two years ago. After one year I switched to SunRocket because it is a lot cheaper. I would say that my service is fine for the price I pay. Is it as good as POTS? No. Do I pay about $70.00 per month less than I used to for POTS, including long-distance? Hell yes. Do I value the difference in clarity and always-on-ness of POTS enough to go back to it? Hell no.

      In terms of overall quality, I would rank Vonage as above SunRocket. In terms of features, Vonage over SunRocket.
  • I sure hope this is an open standard. Personally I don't want to make and receive calls from my computer, but I'd certainly install an Asterisk plugin and make and receive calls on a normal phone.
  • Let me guess, this will be built on a proprietary standard and Yahoo users can only call other Yahoo users and landlines/cellphones. Why would they support open standards like asterisk, if they cannot even support jabber?
  • I have the windows beta installed now and it looks like it just has the same old video. Skype as well as wigiwigi seem to be way ahead as far as video is concerned. It's going to be interesting to compare voice quality because yahoo now uses the global ip sound voice codec, which is what Skype uses.

    Hopefully they add call forwarding too. With Skype I can get calls forwarded to my cel phone even when the computer if off.

    The Y! linux client is a real bummer, it looks like they haven't done anything to it

  • ...from what I understand. It's part of a complete TV/internet/telephone "Yahoo BB" system. You can see an English page here [].
  • So, we read that VoIP providers have to insure that
    they don't give users the "false security" of being
    able to make Emergency Calls (since, in most cases,
    a VoIP system won't send caller's location details)

    Some ADSL modems have POTS-phone ports (for analog-
    telephones and maybe FAXs) built-in, along with the
    more common router features & ports - in Australia,
    ISP Internode offers Agile's NodePhone VoIP service
    using Billion 7402-VGP (has 2 phone ports that work
    even when the computer is switched Off).

    I'm told
  • I have used the Dialpad [] service for a long time for making PC-to-phone calls, even before Yahoo took over Dialpad. The sound quality is far superior to Skype. I need this kind of service because I don't have a regular land line and I make so few phone calls. So $10 worth of credit can last me up to 2 months, which means this type of service has a great advantage over Vonage as well. If you check out the information on Yahoo's site [] you will notice that indeed, once you have a phone number, people can call
  • For over 6 years now I have had Qwest service at 5c/min with
    no montly fee. The break even compared to yahoo is 100 mins
    per month. The next 100 minutes will cost me a whopping $3 more than yahoo and <i>I get to use a real phone with real quality of service. </i>. Even at 600 mins its only 15 bucks more and I know I'll never ever get dropped or hear 'what did you say?'

    I guess I'm old fashioned - I was out of college before cell phones and as IANAL I just find no need to bs on the

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.