Free Calls Over the Internet - helpful hints
We constantly hear about people talking to each other over the internet. We often see an ad with free calling, stating that you only need an internet connection.
Is it a myth that we can call a phone number from a data processor for free? Do we need an internet telephone line to make calls? Is it possible to call destinations for free anywhere in the world? Or do you need a special internet telephone? Are the calls really free? What if the person I want to call does not have internet access? How can free calls be made to mobile phones if it is known that mobile telephony is expensive?
If you have those kinds of questions in mind, this article is for you as it sheds some light on basic ideas you can use to dig deeper and make free calls thanks to the Internet.
Free call? How free is "free"?
Yes, you can make on the loose calls over the internet. Free, as if you don't pay a cent. However, there are some costs involved: the internet connection (you need internet access on at least one end of the call) and in some cases, you will have to see advertisements.
Chat programs with which you can make free calls
You can also talk to most of the programs that people use to chat for free. You are not charged for talking, in the same way as for chatting. If so, all you have to do is figure out how (and if) the program you're using to chat with your friends will also allow you to participate in voice chat.
Free internet calls to and from cell phones
Newer cell phones (called smartphones) also function like a small computer and can be connected to the internet. To make free calls with such a mobile, you just need to find the right program that suits your mobile and the provider you want to use.
Payment calls offered by specialized companies
There is a small group of companies that have become famous for offering free calls to other subscribers. You can take advantage of that promotion by signing up for yourself, especially if the people you want to talk to are using the same company.
Internet telephony for consumers
There is a standard technology that is more available than you may think. That technology is called SIP and you just need to subscribe to a free service and download a free program. You can talk for free to anyone who has signed up with the same company, and after a little learning, you can also talk for free to people who use other carriers' networks. Some of these providers offer free calls to telephone lines in many parts of the world as they promote their service. Others offer free internet calling if you see or hear advertisements. In many cases, the free calls are short (for example, you can only speak for four minutes, but you can call for our minutes for free if you want). Other companies offer toll-free numbers so they can call you from a phone on your computer, but only provide one phone line for incoming calls in remote areas.
Back to basics: how to make free calls when all else fails
My grandfather used to say, "When the going gets tough, hard gets harder." Sometimes you just can't find a service that works for an individual (for example because you can hear well or are constantly disconnecting). In such a scenario, you can call on your skills and do it yourself, as long as there is Internet access on both sides of the call. Several programs allow you to make calls from one computer to another over the Internet, without having to use the services of a company.
I'll give names here because they are free and non-commercial applications: Tinytalk, Loudtalks Lite, SpeakFreely, and Freewebfone are good examples. For those programs to connect between two computers, you need to know how to find out the IP address of the computer you want to talk to, and you might have a bit of a fight with the firewall on both computers. Also, the authors of these programs often publish instructions on how to do this. With a little bit of effort, you can talk to places that aren't covered by specialist companies.
When things get too difficult or just impossible
In some countries in the Middle East, you are not allowed to use the Internet to make calls, or at least make it very difficult for yourself. In such cases, you can try special services such as proxy or VPN, which some companies offer to overcome such problems. On the other hand, if the country you're trying to reach has totally and absolutely prohibited internet calls, you're out of luck: nothing will work.
This article has given you a look at the various free calling options around the world. Keep in mind that free is the catchy word to be taken with a grain of salt. It all depends on your specific needs, what Internet access (if any) is available and what programs the people you want to talk to are using. Last but not least, whether or not you can make those free calls is largely up to you.