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MagicJack Company To Offer Free Calls

August 15, 2010

The company behind the magicJack, the Internet phone gadget advertised on television, will soon be offering free phone calls from devices such as computers, smartphones and tablet PCs, such as the iPad.

According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, there are already a number of programs that allow free calling between computers, and also some that allow free, but short, calls to regular phone numbers. And Google Voice, provides free calls to the US and Canada, but you need a phone to use it, and it you are using a mobile phone, it uses up minutes.

MagicTalk, the new service from VocalTec Communications Ltd., will actually do one better by eliminating fees for calling landline and cell phones in the US and Canada, with no time limits on the calls.

The software will be available this week for Windows and Mac computers. In September and October versions will be available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android phones, Dan Borislow, CEO of VocalTec, told AP reporter Peter Svensso.

Each magicTalk customer will get a phone number that’s associated with the software. Users will be able to move their existing phone numbers to the service, for a fee, a feature that will be extended to magicJack users as well.

The reason VocalTec can offer the calls for free, is that the firm operates as a phone company, so it can charge other phone companies for calls placed to magicTalk and magicJack numbers. It also charges for calls made abroad.

MagicTalk will likely have slimmer profit margins than magicJack, which comes with a year of free calling for $40 (an extra year costs $20). Although calls through magicTalk will not be limited in duration, Borislow said it is not intended for nonstop calls around the clock.

VocalTec has not decided if the smartphone version will run on 3G broadband or if it will be restricted to Wi-Fi for better sound quality. The magicJack’s sound quality can be shaky, and not all users are happy with it. But, in a few tests with magicTalk, the sound quality was excellent, even on international calls.

MagicJack was launched by Borislow, who was the founder of YMax Corp., based in Palm Beach, Florida. It was a privately held company until July, when it merged with Israeli company VocalTec.

VocalTec was the first company to release commercial PC-to-PC calling software, which it called Internet Phone, in 1995. However, many competitors soon followed, and the company wasn’t able to develop its technology into a success of the kind enjoyed by Skype SA.

Borislow said magicTalk will not be advertised on TV as the magicJack has been.

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