Two interesting things were announced in the past two days from two different VoIP companies: SIPPhone and Skype. SIPPhone yesterday announced you can now make free calls to mobile and landline numbers in 60 countries. Or more precisely, you can make free calls to mobiles and landlines in Canada, China, Cyprus, Guam, Hong Kong, Malawi, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saipan, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United States, US Vigin Islands and Vatican City. You can make free calls to landlines in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Antilles, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zambia. Cool!
Except there is one restriction: both you and the person you're calling must be active users of Gizmo, SIPPhone's Skype competitor (which, actually, is quite a bit nicer than Skype in some ways, plus it uses an open protocol -- SIP) and the number you want to call must be listed in the target user's Gizmo profile. What this means in practice is that the person you're calling also uses Gizmo regularly, which means they probably have broadband and there's really not that much point in calling their mobile or landline number. There may be, sometimes, but you're much more likely to want to call a number of somebody that doesn't use Gizmo at all.
But still it's a nice marketing stunt. Hopefull it will get some people to try Gizmo. It seems quite nice. I myself have some trouble getting it to work, for some reason when I make a phonecall I don't hear the other person, I submitted a support ticket to their system, we'll see what causes it.
The other announcement, from Skype is maybe more significant. At least I've been waiting for it. Skype is going to introduce Wifi Phones with the Skype software built-in. This means that you have a handset (wireless of course) that has Skype built-in and thus can use to make calls to any skype user for free or for low cost to any other number. If you consider that more and more areas are widely covered with wifi access points that are open to anybody to use, that means that you can start making free (and very cheap) calls in more and more places. A very interesting development. It may one day become a bit of a cellphone replacement (although there are major issues when moving from one access point to the other).