UPDATE March 2003: For perspective we have decided to leave
past entries on this page for those who are interested in seeing how gimmicks and
even earnest attempts to bring something new and innovative have waxed and waned over
the last few years. The next paragraph starts out explaining how many free calling
methods there are "out there" but unfortunately that is really not the case anymore. The
best of the free services was dialpad and it is (like all the others) gone or no
longer totally free. You may find it amusing to read the history of the last few
years of "free" calling plans. This page was originally created in 1996 with Net Phones
(PC to PC) being the only real method to "call" for free and it has been modifed
several times with new ideas being presented along the way. Most of the content
below was added between 1999 and 2001. The links have been left - dead or not.
Many people are surprised to find out how many different methods exist to get FREE
calling, and we're talking about legal (not red boxing or "alligator clip" calls) methods
of getting long distance totally free.
While they may be legal, some are certainly not without catches.
Check out the area of this site devoted to the over 100
Net Phone apps which have circulated around the web through the years and
the current state of voice and video over the Internet. If both parties
have computers and Internet connections, then calling is totally free, unless
one or both incur per minute charges for the Internet connection. The quality
is variable and never quite up to a phone-to-phone conventional call, but it is
cheap and can be a lot of fun. Unlike the phone, you have access to lists of
people from all over the world who want to chat. It's like Ham radio on steroids.
You can choose the people you want speak to, what country you would like to call and
learn more about it from a native's perspective.
It's great for international calling to friends and family living in or visiting
areas where you might pay exorbitant fees for a conventional call.
A fairly new service has been initiated which gives you a "partially free"
phone-to-phone calling capability, but there are a couple of big catches.
First, just signing up can be daunting. You must get on a waiting list
to be allowed to use the service and then your total time can be limited.
Several of us have signed up for the service, one dating back over 4 months,
and none of us has yet been given the "privilege" of using even one minute
of "free" time. The time is not totally free either. In what many may consider
to be the final invasion of Madison Avenue, you must listen to and actually
respond to voice prompts for commercial ads at the start of each call for a
fixed amount of time for each minute of long distance calling you will
receive afterwards. Still interested? You can check this out at
the FreeWay site
of Broadpoint and see if your luck is any better. Let us know how it goes
with your service. In the last few weeks, even more of these plans have become
available, and we are checking them out one by one. We really don't believe
any of these will be worth it to the average consumer, and there are a couple
of plans which use an advertising gimmick (borders on a scam) offering totally free calls to
ANY number in the world, but you must give out a credit card number, and the
fine print reveals some undesirable details which will almost definitely result
in exorbitant charges on your credit card.
UPDATE ON THE SERVICE ABOVE
At the end of February this "service" was totally changed. It is hard to say whether
the change is for the better or not. You can be the judge, as now anyone can avail
themselves of this service. You buy one of the sponsor's products or services and
this entitles you to receive up to 2 hours of "free" calling per month with no real elaboration
on the fine print or conditions. We are currently checking it out by purchasing
something we might have bought anyway and will post the results of our research into
this new angle after we have had a couple of months to evaluate it. In the meantime,
continue to send your opinions about the service by using the form below.
You can get the use of "your own" toll-free number for voice-mail ONLY from
another provider which WILL sign you up immediately. If you want calls
actually forwarded to your own line it will cost you MORE than simply
signing up for your own toll-free number. You only have a total of 30
minutes of time each month and you can only accumulate 45 minutes of total time
regardless of how long you allow it to build up. The time you use to access your
voice-mail from a phone counts towards your 30 minutes. You don't actually have
your own dedicated toll-free number. Everyone has the same number and is given
an extension which must be entered for people to leave a message.
The idea is to get you to sign up for the paying service, which is NOT worth it.
You are only provided free with what amounts to a few cents of voice-mail each month.
Remember, people can only leave a message, they can't actually talk to you for free.
If you have your own toll-free number you essentially pay only for the time you talk,
and the current best rates are below a nickel a minute, so 30 minutes of time would
only cost about 1.50 and you can actually talk to the person calling!
Check out our info on toll-free numbers before agreeing
to pay for any service like this. Although we can't honestly recommend this
free voice-mail service, if you would like more information, you can
take a look at their website
and decide for yourself. Just remember, DON'T pay for any time on the service
or you'll be wasting money. BTW - you will have to allow cookies to be set or you can't
even load their home page.
Another service has recently become available which really does allow for free
calling to any number in the US, from anywhere in the world! You must be
thinking there is a catch, but not really. The only catch may be that as more
people learn of it, the quality and accessibility may drop, or it may simply
be discontinued in its present form. For the time being, this is the best deal
we have ever seen for long distance calling. It gives you the same advantages
as a net to telephone service, but at no cost, and right now the quality is
nothing short of amazing for a VOIP (voice over Internet) based calling
system. It is supposedly being supported by nothing more than targeted
banner ads and you are not even required to "click thru" on any of them to
make your calls. The service obviously has the capability of handling only a certain
number of simultaneous calls, so you will get busy signals from time to time.
You are required to fill out a questionnaire with a fair bit of personal information
so they can target you with the advertising. It takes a few minutes to download the
app required to place the calls, and as far as we are able to determine, at this time
no massive stream of information about the contents of your computer are transmitted
back to the company during the installation or later use of the product, although
one must always keep this possibility in mind when using any app offering totally
free services in exchange for providing advertisers with personal information. We
almost hate to give out the URL because we can't believe the current quality and
accessibility can continue if the site is swamped with users. The purpose of
our site is, of course to provide all the information we can, so
here it is.
Please don't abuse the service. Only use it when you really need to, and maybe
this kind of thing will be available for some time to come.
UPDATES ON THE SERVICE ABOVE
As expected, the quality of dialpad has begun to suffer significantly over the
last few months, although the price is still hard to beat. Out of the last
100 test calls from all over the world, about 20 or so have been good, with
the remainder falling into the fair to poor quality range. As we first reported
in mid 1999, many of the Net to Phone app developers
have begun to offer free calling within the US as well. You must install their apps
and sign up for their service, even though you will not (for the time being) incur
charges for US calls. You MUST use the link on their web pages to make
the "free" calls, and they are clearly not as convenient as the totally free dialpad.com.
If you use the apps directly you WILL usually be charged by the minute. As dialpad.com
uses an auto installing, quick access method, and currently has no catches, we suggest
that you stick with dialpad for your free calls until we are convinced that something
better is available. UPDATE NOTE: With dialpad's quality sometimes suffering, we have
found some of the Net To Phone dedicated apps delivering better overall performance.
We continue to recommend that you start with dialpad and try them all. Why not? They
really are free, though their suitability for calls within the US or ANY business
calls to or from anywhere is questionable. AUGUST 2000 UPDATE: Overall performance
varies substantially on each call, but we now feel that dialpad is clearly the
best option to try initially. DECEMBER 2000 UPDATE: After continued test calls
on a variety of free VOIP services, we remain convinced that dialpad is the easiest
to use and has comparable quality to the others, though it varies considerably
from call to call regardless of which provider you use.
If you know of or learn about other free services not listed here, please let us know
about them and what your personal experiences have been. We'll check them out and add
them here with our (unbiased of course) evaluation. Use the form below to send us any info
you have about free apps or anything else of interest.
OK- IF YOU MADE IT DOWN HERE YOU HAVE REALIZED THAT ALMOST NONE OF THIS STUFF STILL APPLIES!!
You may send a request for information or order any of our plans by simply filling out
the form below. We can contact you by E-mail if you desire, although
we actually prefer to speak to you directly at your convenience.
We don't ask for any personal information over the Internet so just leave your name,
phone number and the best time to call, or leave only your name and E-mail
address if you don't want a return call. Leave any message you may have in the
text box at the bottom and press the submit button. You are not signing
up for any plan by filling out this form, nor are you obligated to accept anything
if we call.
You may also contact us by a variety of other methods, including a direct Net Phone
call (or voice-mail) over the Internet, an alphanumeric page, call us directly toll-free at
one of the numbers below, or fax us your bill for free analysis. You will almost
definitely get diverted to a voice-mail system during business hours as we REFUSE to
make people wait on hold for more than a minute. We will call you back at your
convenience at any time you specify if we can't take your call immediately.
Henton Communication Enterprises
24 Hour Bill Faxing Line
Toll-Free US Voice Calls Only