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Friday, December 09, 2005

Yahoo Officially Announces VOIP using Messenger

The Associated Press is reporting that Yahoo is tweaking its existing Yahoo Messenger VOIP offering to add Skype style call out features and let Yahoo Messenger users receive calls from traditional phones to their Yahoo Messenger system. This is a rather large and anticipated step for Yahoo, which was reportedly involved in the Skype bidding war, which led to the eBay acquisition of Skype. Yahoo is probably wanting to get their Yahoo VOIP system rolling and widespead before Meg Whitman revolutionizes Skype to the eBay demographic and Google begins adding similar features to Google Talk.

The new service will include "Phone Out," which enable users to place VoIP calls to traditional phones, similar to "SkypeOut." Yahoo also will launch a "Phone In" service, which enables VoIP users to receive traditional phones calls, al a "SkypIn."

The kicker is Yahoo Messenger calls to the US would cost half that of Skype's 2.1-cents-a-minute rate. Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten said it would charge one cent per minute for VoIP calls to the US.

And calls made to more than 30 international countries are expected to cost less than 2 cents a minute with Yahoo, she said. That includes the UK, China, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea, Karlsten said.

The company plans to launch a localized version of the service in "a handful of countries," but not everywhere," Karlsten said.

Yahoo's Phone In service, which allows users to select their phone number, is expected to cost a flat rate of $2.99 per month or about $29.90 annually. That's in line with the SkypeIn 12-month subscription price of 30 euros (or roughly $35), or 3 months for 10 euros (about $11.80).

Yahoo's new service will be based on Dialpad's technology, "in addition to developing our technology in-house," Karlsten said.


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