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Ways to call

Compiled from staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 24, 2000


Calling all computers
Using a PC and the Internet to make a phone call is, well, cheap, and the sound quality reflects the price.
Many Internet telephone services give consumers choices in how to connect with others. Consumers don't need much to get started: Internet access, a microphone or headset, and a sound card. Some services require software downloads; others have phone access through their Web sites.

  • PC to phone: The caller uses a PC to place the call, but the person being called needs only a phone. (But phone-to-PC calls can't be made.) Examples: Those offering free service include CallRewards; DeltaThree; Dialpad.com; MediaRing; and MyFreeLD. Net2Phone charges 1 cent a minute.
  • PC to PC: Both parties need a PC, both need to be online when the call is placed and both usually need the same software. Examples: Phonefree.com offers free calls. Some Web sites, such as Excite.com and HearMe.com, offer voice chat, but both parties need to be registered users at the sites.
  • Phone to phone, through the Net: This can work two ways. A caller dials a number for the service, enters an ID and password to get into the system and then the number being called. Or some services sell calling cards that work like any typical calling card. Example: Net.Caller offers unlimited calls for $49 a month.
  • Phone to phone, using an Internet appliance: Some companies make devices that plug into phones and walljacks and allow calls through the Internet between people using the same devices. Example: Aplio

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