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Call The Pope For Free

It's now free to call the Pope or anyone else in Vatican City using Gizmo Project. In fact, you can now call telephones in 60 countries for free thanks to a new friends and family type calling program offered by SIPphone. (Read this page for specific instructions for how to get going with it.) Various press accounts have said its either crazy or clever. My inbox is full of lots of questions about this program so I thought I'd address them all at once publicly:

Q: You keep saying, "calls are going to be free", but that's just a marketing ploy right? You don't really mean it, do you?
A: I really mean it - calls will be free. Just look at the calling promotions being offered by some of the leading VOIP companies. They are continually lowering calling costs, which will eventually end at absolutely free calling:

Company

Promotion

Requirements/Limitations

Gizmo Project

Free calling to 2 billion phones in 60 countries.

Open to users worldwide, but both parties must be active Gizmo Project users. Calls can go to mobile or land lines.

Skype

Free calling to US and Canada.

Program ends at end of 2006 and is only available to U.S. and Canada users.

AIM

Free US phone number

Microsoft Windows only.

Q: Is the Gizmo Project free calling to 60 countries program sustainable? If all calls are free how will you make money?
A: While basic calling may be free, we sell other services such as a Call-In numbers so you can have a local number for multiple countries ring your computer or an advanced telephone number which will simultaneously ring your computer and your telephone so you can answer it at the most convenient location. Others charge for different services such as Skype, who charges for voice-mail (this is free for Gizmo Project users). Eventually advertising will also be used in and around phone calls - think Google's AdSense but for phone calls, which is being referred to as pay per call.

Q: Moving phone calls around the planet costs money - someone has to pay. Nothing is free.
A: A telephone call is simply data representing audio signals moving along copper wires. Sending an email is also data moving along copper wires and so is zapping an instant message around the world. In each of these examples, there are costs involved but the costs are so small that it costs more to try to measure than the actual cost! So basic services can be offered which are free to the user and make money in other ways through premium services, advertising or other cross-sells. Just as you have free email and instant messaging services, a completely free voice service is also nearly practical.





Learn more about the Gizmo Project

Q: Phone calls require an enormous amount of equipment and cabling so your comparison to email is inaccurate.
A: Many decades ago there was enormous amounts of equipment built to handle phone calls, but that equipment has been paid for many times over. The phone companies own it free and clear and maintenance is minimal. Today, money is being spent on equipment to bring internet connectivity to users either via wireless, DSL or cable lines, which allows for all types of services including TV, video on demand, net access, and calls. The cost of this equipment is covered with a monthly subscription for internet access, making the voice component a tiny slice.

Q: Local calls might be cheap, but long distance calls can be expensive.
A: It doesn't cost more to send an email message to someone far away - it shouldn't cost more to make a call to someone far away - it's just data on a copper wire. Long distance may still be expensive but only because of the exorbitant costs imposed by governments or grandfatherly telephone companies seeking to generate revenue off their citizens who are forced to use their service. Eventually this goes to zero because users are revolting and using net-calling to avoid these fees.

Q: The big telephone companies make billions of dollars. Are you suggesting they will go away?
A: No. Their revenues will transition from phone calls to internet access. Instead of providing a wired or wireless connection over which you can make solely voice calls, they will provide a connection where you can move any type of data you wish. It might be email, web, video, or calls. Those companies which only offer voice and are slow to add other services will go away.

Q: Can I really call the Pope on Gizmo Project?
A: Yes. His username is Pope_Benedict. Double click to call him. If he's not online, right click and dial his home line (remember this is a free call).

Q: Are people taking advantage of the free calls?
A: Yes and where they're calling offers some surprises. Here's a list of the top 15 countries:

1.- Brazil 6.- Russia 11.- Argentina
2.- US 7.- Hungary 12.- Australia
3.- China 8.- Spain 13.- UK
4.- Bulgaria 9.- Singapore 14.- Germany
5.- Malaysia 10.- Japan 15.- Peru

Whether you're on Linux, Mac or Microsoft Windows, I hope you'll try the Gizmo Project's free calling program.

-- MR

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