Does Google’s Free Phone Service Work in Other Countries?By PAUL BOUTIN
Google’s Call Phones from Gmail lets Gmail users turn their computers into telephones by talking into a built-in microphone or by attaching a headset. The service, Google said when it announced Call Phones last week, is restricted to callers in the United States. Calls within the United States and to Canada are free, and most international calls are around 2 cents a minute. If you also sign up for Google’s free Google Voice service, available only within the United States, you can also receive calls free through Google’s servers.
What if you’re not a lucky resident of the United States? Over the weekend, word spread on the Internet that at least some people outside the United States had made free calls to the United States and Canada from Gmail. According to several excited updates on Twitter, Gmail lets at least some users outside the country make calls as if they are dialing from inside the country. All they need do is make sure their Gmail account settings specify English (U.S.) rather than English (U.K.).
They can’t use Google Voice to take calls, but they can make them free, or cheaply. (To change the settings, log in to Gmail and click Settings in the upper right corner of the Gmail interface. Language is the first option at the top. Google will also prompt you to install a small voice and video chat browser add-on before you can make calls.)
A Google spokesman, Randall Sarafa, explained that for users outside the United States, or for Americans traveling abroad, Google’s free services might work, but they had not been officially introduced to other countries. To quote Google, “We launched the Call Phones from Gmail feature to U.S. users as our first step and will be rolling out additional localized versions in the future. Depending on local laws and regulations, if your account is set to U.S.-English, you might be able to access the feature in some other countries as well.”
Does it work for you, or did you get an error message? Let us know in the comments below.
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