So you’ve probably heard of Skype, the VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) software that until the end of the year, is enabling US and Canadian residents to make free calls from their Internet-connected PC to landlines in those two areas.
Now SIPphone, the Internet phone software company behind the competing Gizmo Project, is offering free Internet phone calls to landlines in 60 countries, and mobile phones in 17.
The catch? As mentioned on the Gizmo Project Web site, there are restrictions. “The All Calls Free plan applies when both call participants are registered and active Gizmo Project users. A person is considered active when they are making phone calls with Gizmo Project on a regular basis. We reserve the right to limit call length.”
In my tests throughout today I initially thought I was freely able to call several friends who aren’t registered with the service. However, I was actually eating into my introductory call out credits.
As mentioned in our news story this morning, Gizmo has similar features to Skype, including free PC-to-PC conversations, ability to rent a US number to receive calls on your computer, and the option of paying low charges to call regions outside of the free zones.
On average, my test calls to a few US mobile phones and a landline in Australia took about 10-20 seconds to connect and through the Plantronics microphone headset used in my informal tests, call quality was usually, but not always, quite solid.
For instance, my buddy back in Australia (who uses Skype when he travels but spoke to me using a landline), advised that he pretty much heard no latency, echo or overt amount of noise. He did mention that the signal sounded like it had a slight amount of gain (distortion) and that overall, it sounded like I was using a cordless telephone. The experience on my end was similar.
The Gizmo Project site has a list of which countries are free to call (to active, registered users) and links to Windows, Mac and Linux versions of the software.