A complete guide to the most useful — and free — online phone services
Remember when everything on the Internet was free? When the idea of making money from an online service would cause the inventor of Napster to shudder in disgust? Those days aren’t necessarily over. There are still plenty of free online services out there, especially those powered by VoIP or P2P (peer-to-peer) technology, including free phone calls, free faxes, free conference calls, free phone cards, free lookup services and free webcasting.
Here’s our list of the 102 best free phone services on the Web, grouped by category with a brief description of each. Know of one we missed? Leave it in the comments section below.
Free VoIP on Your Cell Phone
1. GoSIP: Make free VoIP calls from your Web-enabled mobile phone through wifi with GoSIP’s free download.
4. ROK Viper: One of the first mobile VoIP applications, ROK Viper requires downloads to both your phone and PC, as well as a Bluetooth connection between your computer and phone.
5. fringland Ltd.: fring harnesses your phone’s SMS technology to deliver free VoIP calls wherever you are. It also lets you chat with friends on most major chat clients, including Google, AIM, Yahoo! and MSN.
6. Gizmo5: From the Gizmo Project, Gizmo 5 offers fring-like services, with the added feature of file sharing from your mobile phone.
7. Barablu: With Barablu, you can use your mobile phone to make free local or international calls from any location.
8. Nimbuzz: Nimbuzz allows users to call, IM (instant message), text and share files like music, photos and videos for free.
9. Blyk: Available only to a limited number of users in the U.K., Blyk offers 43 free minutes per month, which are paid for by advertisers.
10. Yeigo Communications Ltd.: Yeigo's services are similar to Nimbuzz or fring, but only truly free when you use it to call other Yeigo users.
11. Tpad.com: Create a Tpad account with your wifi-enabled mobile phone and make free calls to any location. Small fees apply when calling international mobile numbers.
12. iSkoot: iSkoot is the first mobile company to attain Skype certification for its free calling platform.
13. MOBIVOX: Formerly known as Voxlib, Mobivox offers a free download that allows individuals to call anyone in the world, regardless of the phone they use.
14. Powwownow: Use Powownow to make free conference calls without even registering. Just click and call.
15. Basement Ventures LLC: BV FreeConferencing allows free calling for as many as 250 attendees for up to six hours. BV also allows you to record your conference calls for free in MP3 format to save or post online.
16. FreeConference: With free basic service, free recording and no credit card required, FreeConference is currently being used by 60 of the Fortune 100 companies.
17. FreeConferenceCall: FreeConferenceCall offers accounts that can accommodate up to 96 users, as well as 24/7 customer service.
18. Totally Free Conference Calls: Totally Free Conference Calls offers the same types of free features as its competition, with up to 99 participants per call.
19. Foonz: This service allows you to make unscheduled conference calls from any phone and location for free – ideal for PR professionals or party organizers. Foonz also allows users to blast voice-mail messages to multiple recipients.
20. No Cost Conference: Another free service powered by ad revenue. For users who want the service but not the ads, plans start at $4.99 per month.
21. Free Audio Conferencing: This service provides free conference calls and offers toll-free conferencing for participants at 7.9 cents per minute.
22. EasyConference: Free with no ads? That’s what they say.
23. Vapps Inc.: Vapps is the only conference service to offer HD audio quality, and is free for 10 days.
24. eFax: Free for 30 days, eFax is the “editors’ choice” of PC Magazine. After the trial period, plans start at $16.95 per month.
25. RingCentral: Offering a “complete internet fax service,” RingCentral’s free trial allows you to receive faxes as emails, to fax any MS Office file and to sign faxes electronically. Plans start at $7.99 per month after the free trial period.
26. Fax.com: After the free trial, users pay a $9.99 flat rate for 300 faxed pages per month.
27. faxZERO.com: This is a truly free online faxing service that makes its money by placing ads on fax cover pages. Pay $1.99 per fax to remove the ad.
28. freeFAX.com: freeFAX.com has been funded by ad revenue, not user fees, since August 2000.
29. FaxDigits: FaxDigits offers most of its services – a dedicated fax line, incoming faxes as PDFs, unlimited inbound faxes – for free. A premium services suite runs users $7.95 per month.
30. TPC (The Phone Company): Since 1993, TPC has been sending faxes for free over email and more recently by remote printing.
31. MyFax: With no software to download, MyFax can cost as little as $9.16 per month after the free trial.
32. K7.net: Free faxes and free voicemails are delivered directly to your email inbox with K7’s unified messaging service. K7 does not offer an out-going fax service.
33. PamFax via Skype: Although not quite free, some Skype plug-in developers have harnessed the power of Skype to send faxes to any fax machine in the world. Users pay in Skype credits per page with no monthly fees.
34. Asterisk: Asterisk is an open-source VoIP client with a free download, so users can build the ideal softphone for their needs.
35. Jabber: This open-source IM client lets you chat with Jabber users worldwide for free.
36. Skype: Though not open-source, Skype offers free support to its community of developers.
37. Facebook: WalkieTalkie, Conference Calls and Chatterbox are just a few of the new applications Facebook offers. Facebook has also become a proving ground for VoIP-freeware development.
38. Gizmo: Built on open-source Asterisk, Gizmo’s code is no longer as open, but is still free.
39. OpenWengo: French-based OpenWengo is an open-source alternative to Skype, and is Mac and Linux compatible.
40. Brosix: Within Brosix’s corporate-messaging suite, you can make VoIP calls as easily as you can IM your co-worker. Brosix offers a free trial.
41. Ekiga: Ekiga provides free VoIP for Linux enthusiasts.
42. Express Talk: Express Talk is a softphone download with free VoIP-to-VoIP connections.
43. Globe7: Globe7 offers free PC-to-PC calls with a galaxy of gadgets and information including horoscopes and recipes.
44. Google Talk: With no download required, Google Talk is one of the easiest PC-to-PC VoIP applications to use.
45. GrandCentral: With GrandCentral, one phone number makes all your phones ring. It’s such a good idea that Google has acquired the service.
46. iCall: iCall offers free local and long-distance calls with a free download and free voice mail. iCall makes its money by charging businesses to be listed in its directory.
47. Intellivic: Intellivic is a Belgian-based softphone developer with a free trial download.
48. Internetcalls.com: This service offers free calls for the first 300 minutes per week.
49. JAHJAH: This service links two traditional phone lines together without downloads – just plug two phone numbers into the Web site, and your phone rings with the other party waiting on the line.
50. Jangl: With Jangl, you can send free voice mails via email without revealing your actual phone number.
51. Jaxtr: By linking your phone to the Web, Jaxtr’s free service can eliminate pricey international mobile-phone call charges.
52. KCall: KCall is a German-based VoIP offering with a free download.
53. KPhone: KPhone is a buggy Linux-based softphone project based on volunteer efforts.
54. Linphone: Based in France, Linphone offers an open-source SIP (session initiation protocol) video phone for Linux and Windows – and a free download.
55. LinuxMCE A Linux-based “complete whole-house media solution” with a communications system that integrates VoIP with POTS (plain old telephone service) lines, LinuxMCE offers a free beta download.
56. LynxPhone: This softphone download lets you make free calls to VoIP users on open (non-Skype) networks.
57. MindSpring (formerly Vling): This is Earthlink’s free SIP phone download.
58. MiniSIP: MiniSIP offers free SIP download for Linux, Windows and Pocket PC.
59. Minipax: Minipax is an easy-to-use SIP phone freeware download.
60. NeuStar Inc.: Neustar has been helping companies allow the government to listen to your VoIP calls since 2002 – and the spying is free.
61. NadizPhone: NadizPhone is a VoIP-enabled social networking site that allows free calls between members.
62. Ooma: Buy the snazzy Ooma box for $399 and get free voice calling for life.
63. PeerMe: PeerMe is a free peer-to-peer VoIP client.
64. Raketu: This VoIP social-networking mashup offers free calls, SMS, IM and international calling.
65. SightSpeed: SighSpeed is an award-winning video phone system that is free for personal use. Business plans start at $19.95 per month.
66. My SIP Switch: My SIP Switch allows users to manage multiple VoIP lines through a single telephone.
67. SJphone: SJphone is the maker of the MagicJack, the USB-to-PTSN converter.
68. The switchboard: This Canadian-based VoIP source is free for the first week and costs $1 per month per user after that.
69. TelTel: TelTel has a free download, but calls cost TelTel credits, which must be paid in $10 increments.
70. TiVi: Committed to “inventing a better VoIP,” TiVi now offers “real Latvian telephone numbers” with free basic service.
71. Twinkle: Like Egika, Twinkle is a Linux-only softphone download.
72. VoIPCheap: VoIPCheap offers 300 free VoIP minutes every week.
73. VoIP Discount: VoIP Discount offers free VoIP calls, but only to trial members. After the trial period, users must buy credits, which gives them 120 “free days” of calling.
74. VOISpeed: The new VOISpeed Gateway allows you to make VoIP calls over PTSN lines without additional analog converters.
75. X-Lite: From the makers of Eyebeam and Bria, X-Lite is one of the most frequently downloaded softphones on the market.
76. Zoiper: Download Zoiper 2.0 for Mac, Linux or Windows “for the cost of a click;” Zoiper Biz starts at 36 euros per month.
77. AIM Call Out: Now that every major IM client has its own VoIM service, VoIM less about features and more about brand loyalty. For those still clinging to AOL, here’s yours.
78. Apple iChat: If you don’t want to pay for a .Mac account, you can iChat for free with an AIM login.
79. BitWise IM: Worried about someone snooping on your VoIP calls? BitWise's encrypted voice, IM, file sharing and whiteboard suite comes with a free trial.
80. Eyeball Chat: Eyeball Chat is a free video-chat client that supports Yahoo!, AIM and MSN messengers.
81. Google Talk: Of course it’s free – it’s from Google.
82. Iotum Inc.: Iotum offers free conference calls over Facebook.
83. Microsoft Corp.: MS Office Communicator Server now comes with a 180-day free trial.
84. SIPphone: A Gizmo Project partner, SIPphone offers a free softphone download.
85. SightSpeed: SightSpeed offers free voice, IM and video chat with video mail, too. The service is Mac and Windows compliant.
86. Talkster: Get free local numbers around the world with Talkster.
87. Yahoo Voice: What will happen to this Skype clone if or when the Microsoft deal goes through?
88. Speak PrePaid: Get 60 free minutes with your first purchase at Speak PrePaid.
89. PhoneHog: Phone Hog members have earned 76 million free long-distance minutes with no fees or charges of any kind.
90. Callingcards.com: Get 10 free global minutes when you register with Callingcards.com; no credit card required. Your free phone card will be emailed to you instantly.
91. PhoneShark.com: To prove its value and quality, PhoneShark.com offers free global phone cards worth 13 minutes of airtime. There are no PINs.
93. Google411: Google411 and Google will connect you to the listing or type of business you’re trying to reach, with texting and mapping options – all for free.
94. Free411: After listening to an ad, you get a similar service that Google411 offers.
95. Free Cell Phone Lookups: This service gives you basic information for free, and a subscriber’s name for a fee.
96. Addresses.com: Linked to the Intellius network, this service gives teaser information for free and offers the information you want for a fee.
97. WebEx: WebEx is webinar software with a free trial. Plans start at $375 per month.
98. GoToWebinar: From the GoToMeeting suite, GoToWebinar has a free trial with plans starting at $468 per year.
99. Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional: Adobe Acrobat Conntect Professional plans start at $39 per month or $395 per year to host meetings of 15 attendees or fewer.
100. NetBriefings: NetBriefings offers media production for your company, from embedded video in your Web page to webcasts. Plans start at $29 per month after a free trial.
101. ReadyTalk: After a 30-day free trial, ReadyTalk’s web-conferencing system is available with pricing plans based on a per-minute rate.
102. iVisit: iVisit provides conference calls and web conferencing for free; premium packages start at $49 per year.