Quick & Easy Free Internet Calls

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Adios, Skype. I'm using Jajah to make free long-distance calls over the Internet using my old-fashioned landline and trusty old phone. That's right: no headset or mike, no software, and definitely no hassle. And I'm loving it.

A Quick How-To

Here's the quick and dirty:

1. Register with Jajah. It's free and all you do is give them the number for any of your landlines and, if you want, your cell phone.

2. Set up your call. Any time you want to make a call, open your browser, go to Jajah's home page, and log in. Fill out the "My Friend's Phone Number" section and click the aptly named Call button.

3. Your landline phone rings. Pick it up and you'll hear Jajah announce that it's calling your buddy's number, then you're connected.

4. Talk. If your buddy is registered with Jajah, it's a free call; otherwise, it's 2.5 cents per minute in U.S. and Canada. International calls are slightly more expensive. Jajah lists all the details online.

5. Try it. Before you register, the first 5 minutes are free. Even after registering, you can use Jajah without paying: You start off with a credit of $3.

There's no contract or fee; you just pay for the calls you make. There's no muss, fuss, or hassle, either, because there's nothing to download or install. You don't need a headset, a microphone, or any extra equipment.

And more good news: You can use smart Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Firefox plug-ins to call right from those apps.

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Why I Love Jajah

I think this is just the coolest way there is to make long-distance calls. About the only disadvantage is that you need access to a PC and Web browser to make the call. When I'm traveling, I use my cell phone and notebook from, say, the hotel room or a wireless connection at the airport. (I know what you're thinking: What about an unlimited calling plan for my cell phone? Jajah is perfect for me because I'm so cheap, I still pay by the minute.) If you want to get fancy (and I know you do), you can schedule calls in advance.

I recently mentioned Jajah to Gavin B., a reader from Toronto. Here's what he said: "I'm in Canada (not a complaint, just a fact) and my daughter lives in Australia. I can talk to her for 2 1/2 cents US per minute--over four hours for $7 US! Astounding! Just last week I was paying roughly 10 cents per minute; thirty years ago I paid $7 US per minute to call Australia."

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More About VoIP

I'm probably the last person at PC World to have discovered how to make free calls using Jajah. Here are two articles to read for more details about Jajah: "Jajah Announces Free Telephone Service," "Jajah Enables Instant VoIP."

There are other VoIP options, though. I know you've heard about Skype. I've been using it about a year now; read "Tips for Gabbing on the Net." For even more on Skype, read Jim Martin's "VoIP Alternatives."

But did you know that AOL's also got a VoIP service? It does, and Net phone maven Aoife McEvoy reviewed it, along with Skype's recent update.

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Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
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