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Making Free Phone Calls With Google's GrandCentral

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-will dept.

Communications 144

andrewmin writes with an enthusiastic pitch for Google's closed-beta call-aggregation service called GrandCentral, for which we non-beta-testers can at least reserve a number. Specifically, he's using GrandCentral in combination with Gizmo5 to make free VoiP calls. Excerpted: "Most of the time, I'm at my computer. Or near it. And if I had an internet device like a Nokia N810 or an iPod Touch, I'd have it with me 24/7. And since most of the time I'm at a place where there's a WiFi network, it makes sense for me to use VoIP rather than a regular phone line. ... I'm talking about making and receiving calls that are completely free (that is, $0.00/minute) forever (that is, no 30-day demo) for as much as you want (that is, no 30-day trial or five hour/week limit)."

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knowing google... (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286584)

half way thru your call

a soft 3rd part voice interrupts your conversation "this is Ads by Google: for free unlimited hosting please see http://..../ [....] "

Re:knowing google... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286674)

Or, in the case of Slashdotters:
"This is Ads by Google: Is your parents' basement becoming a bit to cramped for you and your Star Wars memorabilia collection? Do you long for companionship in your life? Do you wan't to experience this sex thing people keep talking about? Visit Russian Milf Dating dot com now!"

Re:knowing google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287322)

I tried going to that Russian Milf site you listed, but no web site came up. I guess it's been hit with the Slashdot effect already!

Re:knowing google... (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287612)

No you see google has text ads, which means all us phone phreaks out there are going to finally be cool for being able to actually understand the DTMF ads google plays! I fuggin love google! *puts on his phonelosers shirt*

Re:knowing google... (1)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288772)

PLA ... some phreaker you are. I'm working on restoring a #3 ESS to service.
Have any spare DC 6150 [lortondata.com] tapes lying around?

Not available outside the US ... (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286610)

So much for 95% of the world ...

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286640)

yeah sucks that I can't even reserve thanks to living in the third world

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286714)

Step 1: Start your own <FOREIGN COUNTRY>-based Google
Step 2: Offer free telephone call service not available outside <FOREIGN COUNTRY>
Step 3: ???
Step 4: PROFIT!!

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

robogobo (891804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287398)

you didn't get the notice. that's out, not funny anymore.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (2, Funny)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289226)

oh, I see what you're doing!
Step 1 - warn it's not funny
Step 2 - ???
Step 3 - PROFIT!!!1!!!

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

ArIck (203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286728)

This is not completely accurate. I am in Canada and I had gotten a Grand Central number. Maybe it is for US and Canada only but, how hrd is it to use a proxy in the US to register (or ask a friend to do it) and use that phone number if you want!

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

rsax (603351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286868)

>This is not completely accurate. I am in Canada and I had gotten a Grand Central number. Maybe it is for US and Canada only

GrandCentral Requirements [google.com] :

"At this time GrandCentral is only available in the U.S."

also you need a blasted invite (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287882)

I've still not gotten an invite ever for this, so don't forget about that aspect either.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287192)

what area code? I just checked 2 area codes in Ontario, and neither are available.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (5, Insightful)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286892)

So much for 95% of the world ...
So fucking what?!

I don't go to Japanese sites expecting freebies from Japanese companies for my American ass.

If it is in Google's interest to offer this product/service to <insert your country>, they will.

It's like the Japanese video game market. A ton of crap gets dumped in the Japanese market, because most of the companies are a) in Japan, b) it's cheaper and easier to test a new game in a local market - before potentially pissing away money on a failure.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

Telecommando (513768) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287080)

Apparently it's not available in all of the US either.

I only count 45 states and the District and Columbia on their reserve page..

Re:Not available outside the US ... (2, Informative)

IconBasedIdea (838710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287184)

The service is available in every state. However, numbers in every area code and/or state are not available at all times. Your number and your location need not match.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288484)

Area code 603 is not available- and that covers the entire state of New Hampshire.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288592)

So... pick another state? Nothing says that you have to choose the state of your residence...

Re:Not available outside the US ... (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288700)

I guess the point of wanting a local area code is so that it isn't long distance for everyone that you are likely to give the number out too.

Could you imagine, Hey this is my new number that will be able to contact me anywhere I am at, you just have to call california at 10-15 cents a minute or more. but you can reach me at that number.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289034)

I think we're rapidly approaching the point where no one cares what area code you're in, or even country code soon. I'm already at that point. Just about everyone I know has a cell phone that can call nationwide (and Canada) at no additional cost for at least part of the day if not all the time. Plenty of people also have VoIP like Vonage or Lingo (which I have) where you can call anywhere in the US or western Europe for free any time.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289458)

What is this "long distance" that you speak of?

Re:Not available outside the US ... (2, Informative)

adlucem (1158083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287972)

Some of the rest of the world already has free VoIP, though. For instance, ~50% of French households have broaband, and the typical monthly fee of 30 bucks includes free VoIP (and numeric TV). The big difference of GrandCentral seems to be that it centralizes all of your phoning devices, around a unique phone number.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (2, Insightful)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288844)

Some of the rest of the world already has free VoIP, though. For instance, ~50% of French households have broaband, and the typical monthly fee of 30 bucks includes free VoIP (and numeric TV).
Not only that, but the calls are free when calling no less than about 50 countries, US included. With some providers, you can can connect to your number through SIP from basically anywhere and place calls for free. Wish I had that here in Canada, where I get charged long distance whenever I call out of city limits.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289580)

Just put a small PBX at home. I have an asterisk doing the same job for me. It aggregates my landline, 3 VOIP numbers (from 2 countries), 2 cell phones when I am in the home (via chan_bluetooth), etc and forwards to the correct number depending on the circumstances. There are plenty of live CDs floating around and all you need is a retired small PC to run it.

As far as non-US the Grandcentral business model will _NOT_ work outside US. It works due to the vagaries of the US mobile market. In the US called person pays for receiving calls. So if GrandCentral has a telco registration it can by collecting the termination fee pay the forwarding fee and break even (I still do not see where the profit is). In the rest of the world the calling person pays for the whole call. So Google/GrandCentral will not be able to offer this service using the same terms and conditions.

Re:Not available outside the US ... (1)

Nemo's Night Sky (1051346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290468)

Exactly! I have been trying to tell people about asterisk for ages!

Innovation (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286620)

If only Google would innovate a bit ;)

Re:Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287158)

I hope you're joking. Or do we only remember that technology is purchased when Microsoft buys it?

Re:Innovation (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287752)

I hope you had a sense of humor when you were born, because it's sure been ground out of you now, along with the pattern recognition wetware to recognize those funny symbols at the end of his post.

Damn it! (2, Funny)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286660)

Someone already reserved (314)159-2653.

Re:Damn it! (1, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286722)

Yeah, but how about 876-5309 ?

Re:Damn it! (2, Funny)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286838)

maybe you should try 867-5309? (I believe 876-5309's owned by a typo squatter?)

Re:Damn it! (1)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287076)

Or maybe 853-5937 for us who prefer Squeeze to Tommy Tutone?

Re:Damn it! (4, Funny)

Jardine (398197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287156)

Yeah, but how about 876-5309 ?

PEnnsylvania 6-5000. And get off my lawn.

+1 funny (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287212)

but alas, I've already posted. damn.

Re:Damn it! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288784)

Well I'm an old Rush fan so I would rather have 100-1001. Of course I wouldn't mind THX-1138 either. And I'm not on your lawn. I'm posting this FROM INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!!! :-o

Re:Damn it! (1)

siwelwerd (869956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286740)

Then go for a better approximation, rather than just a truncation: (314)159-2654.

Re:Damn it! (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286742)

The last 3 should be a 4 anyway.
or reseserve (589)793-2385

Re:Damn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23289672)

dont forget 5318008

oh wait this is slashdot... they might not know anything about these

Only 45 states can reserve numbers. (1)

doctorsmoothy (987100) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286662)

Maine just got indoor plumbing, you'd think we would be candidates for VOIP.

Re:Only 45 states can reserve numbers. (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287522)

Maine just got indoor plumbing
They only want you to have to learn one technological advance at a time. Don't want y'all to get confused, then angry, then defect to Canada. That would be awful.

VoIP+WiFi=mobile phone? (3, Interesting)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286680)

And since most of the time I'm at a place where there's a WiFi network, it makes sense for me to use VoIP rather than a regular phone line.
As someone who hates cell phones, I used a softphone (reaching back to an Asterisk server) on my laptop for a few months. Anytime I used WiFi outside my house (campus network or coffee-shop style coverage) I had nothing but problems: garbled communication, one side of the conversation not hearing anything, etc. Almost completely unusable--you know service is bad when it makes cell phone quality look fantastic in comparison.

Anyway, Grand Central may be a replacement for a land-line phone, but I think Andrew is being a bit optimistic about the adequacy of using it as a "mobile" phone.

Exactly (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288022)

Most public wi-fi spots are so saturated with traffic that IP telphony is next to useless. When you have 50 people all swilling nasty over roasted Starbucks coffee while watching Youtube videos you are not going to get a very good IP-phone connection.

Re:Exactly (1)

Nemo's Night Sky (1051346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290528)

Yes, that is why we tell hot spots to go f themselves once handset battery technology has improved to a point where running SiP over a fully switched mobile mesh network is possible. Gotta have some kind of incentive though for running exit nodes. Like for every guy sharing his FiOS for calls that MUST go to the PSTN, his mobile device is allowed to have a higher bandwidth exchange on the mesh. Obviously a difficult idea to implement until there are enough companion handsets out there to mesh with. Did i say difficult? Probably closer to impossible. The Telcos arent going anywhere soon.

Re:VoIP+WiFi=mobile phone? (4, Informative)

seidojohn (870852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288922)

This apparently isn't designed to replace cell phones or land lines. From what I understand from TFA:

1. Give GrandCentral all your phone numbers (Home, Cell, Work, etc.)
2. Tell GrandCentral when you will be around each phone
3. Tell all your contacts you have a new phone number, and give them your GrandCentral one
4a. Someone calls at a time which you told GrandCentral you would be at work, so your work phone rings.
4b. Someone calls when you're on your lunch break, out of the office, and your cell phone rings.
4c. Someone calls when you're at home, and both your cell phone and land-line ring.
4... Repeat for whatever configuration you have set up.

From TFA:

With GrandCentral, you get:
All your calls through a single number. Add your other numbers to your GrandCentral account and then make your own rules for how and when your phones ring.
All your voicemails in one place, saved for as long as you want. If you don't answer a GrandCentral call, your callers will be sent to your GrandCentral voicemail. You can then check messages by calling your GrandCentral number, by logging into your account, or by checking the GrandCentral notification email.
Handy features that work the same way across all your phones:
*ListenIn as callers leave you a message
* Record calls on the fly so you never have to fumble for a pen again
* Switch phones mid-call without your caller knowing
* Block annoying callers at will
* Record custom greetings for different caller or groups of callers

Later in TFA:

To use GrandCentral, you just need a touch-tone phone and a Flash-enabled browser. Visit the About Adobe Flash Player page to find your version of Flash or confirm that your already downloaded it.

Also this:

Note: GrandCentral won't charge you for these calls; however, if you use a cell phone, regular cell phone airtime charges may apply

Sorry for so many quotes, but if people won't look at the website they're commenting on, perhaps they'll read this... ;)

Re:VoIP+WiFi=mobile phone? (1)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289680)

You are correct; to be clear as to what I was referring to, I should have said Grand Central+Gizmo5 (what the author was describing in the summary).

Re:VoIP+WiFi=mobile phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23289940)

If you have any Sprint plan, you can get cheap unlimited calling by registering your Grandcentral number as a 'Sprint to Home' number. It's $5 a month for unlimited calling to and from your 'home' number, and GC does count!

Re:VoIP+WiFi=mobile phone? (4, Informative)

a.ameri (665846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290624)

As part time Asterisk developer let me second the parent.

Not only VoIP, but any real-time application is useless on nearly all current implementations of 802.x due to two major reseason:

* Response time is too high irrespective of bandwidth. Lag is not acceptable in situations where you can't buffer. Your YouTube playback will not suffer because even a tiny buffer can eliminate the problem, but you can't buffer RT applications.

* Most importantly, the concept of QoS, while theoretically feasible on 802.x, is completely absent from the current implementation. I have heard but I'm yet to see a real Wifi device with QoS. Without QoS, VoIP sucks.

And then, there is also the issue of enhanced emergency services compliance, or what's in US called E911. In Australia where I live, most VoIP providers either completely block calling '000' (our emergency service number) or require you to submit a physical address for your static IP and REMAIN in that location.

To sum it all up, if you're holding your breath for VoIP on Wifi, dream on. I've tested various VoIP clients (from the top of the market Siemens and Snom IP phones with Wifi to softphones like Counter path, etc) using various VoIP servers (Asterisk, Cisco, Nortel, etc.) using various UDP protocols (SIP, AIX2, H.323, Skinny etc.) and it DOESN'T WORK(TM).

Until we have full end-to-end QoS support on wireless networks, or something like WiMAX which promises to drastically lower response time and lag, VoIP on wireless will remain a toy for geeks to play with and nothing more.

FreeWorldDialup, Asterisk and IPKall (2, Informative)

viking80 (697716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286688)

http://www.freeworlddialup.com/ [freeworlddialup.com] Gives anyone a free phone number forever, globally, and you can dial to and from most VOIP services.

It works great with any VOIP SW or HW or Asterisk for a fancy home answering machine.

If you need the POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) world to call you, http://www.ipkall.com/ [ipkall.com] will give you a free Washington phone nuumber.

Re:FreeWorldDialup, Asterisk and IPKall (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286894)

http://www.freeworlddialup.com/ [freeworlddialup.com] Gives anyone a free phone number forever, globally, and you can dial to and from most VOIP services.

That just doesn't have the same feeling of excitement as getting up at 2am in the pouring rain, going to a telephone booth with a 555 timer chip and piezo, making freaking calls with your computer next to you plugged into the 12V socket of your car, then posting abusive messages anonymously on your favourite BBS. And all for free, man!

Nokia n810 grandcentral and gizmo5 (1)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286710)

This is not entirely accurate. I have been doing this on my nokia n810 for some time. It has worked, and worked nicely and freely to boot. However a friend of mine using this set up was told he'd need to purchase minutes in that he was over using the free service. He went back to using vonage. I have used the two in tandem and not had any problems with it whatsoever or had a limitation on phone minutes.

Re:Nokia n810 grandcentral and gizmo5 (1)

mscdex (774392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286792)

It sounds like your friend was calling through gizmo and not grandcentral. I did this on accident initially when I set up gizmo and grandcentral. In order to call out through grandcentral instead, you need to log into your account at the grandcentral webpage, or the mobile version of their webpage and dial from your address book. There is currently a maemo application in the works here [internettablettalk.com] that will allow you to dial your grandcentral contacts without opening your browser.

Reserve a number? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286732)

Hmm. My UID is 7 digits long...

Only Free?!? PAY US for info harvested from calls! (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286736)

Just as Google "earns" (however indirectly) from what we search for (eg, enabling it to increase its ad revenues, by positioning "relavent" ad's beside our search results)...

so can it (very likely) continue to earn even more, eg, automatically listening-in on our future phone conversations - using well-developed voice-to-text technologies - to gather valuable information from them.

Perhaps we should be -paid- for each use of Google's "free" VoIP service, ie, if/when it is unfolded before us... more as harvested info is sold at higher prices, less before it is sold.

A similar rewards model should also apply to Google Mail messages sent & received.

Re:Only Free?!? PAY US for info harvested from cal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286748)

Ok, while you hold out for that, the rest of us will just enjoy free service.

Let us know how it works.

Re:Only Free?!? PAY US for info harvested from cal (2, Informative)

zeroduck (691015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287092)

I've been using the beta for a few months now, and its pretty slick. I think the intention is to charge for the service at some point. On the settings tab, they list what "plan" you have.

Right now there is no advertising on the website or inserted into your calls.

Re:Only Free?!? PAY US for info harvested from cal (3, Insightful)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287660)

Gmail *does* pay you - with a free email account.

Re:Only Free?!? PAY US for info harvested from cal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287804)

The payment you are receiving is the service itself. You are under no obligation whatsoever to use it, and if the benefit of the service does not outweigh the privacy issues in your opinion, that's fine. For others, the service may be good enough to warrant the problems you spoke of.

Please qualify the statement... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286762)

Specifically, he's using GrandCentral in combination with Gizmo5 to make free VoiP calls

He's making free phone calls to the USA. I am pretty sure he cannot call Benin or Nepal free of charge. That is the nature of the industry. Once this Google product is out, free calls will not be to every device that can receive them all over the world. Free calls will be to USA and Canada.

By the way, can anyone tell me what determines the cost of an international call? My provider (Sprint Canada) charges an average of 49 cents/min for a call to Asia though you can use some of the many pre-paid phone cards and make a call at about 7 cents/min to the same destination.

Re:Please qualify the statement... (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286836)

Mostly it is the company you are buying the service from, and the contracts it has with terminating companies in the destination country.

One thing to be aware of is the prepaid cards are generally given the lowest quality of service routes. The phone company already has your money, so it doesn't really care whether the call goes through or not. If you are placing the call on a billable basis then the phone company doesn't get any money if the call doesn't go through.

Re:Please qualify the statement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286846)

can anyone tell me what determines the cost of an international call?
Switching costs, termination costs, and operator profits, for the most part.

Re:Please qualify the statement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287332)

By the way, can anyone tell me what determines the cost of an international call? My provider (Sprint Canada) charges an average of 49 cents/min for a call to Asia though you can use some of the many pre-paid phone cards and make a call at about 7 cents/min to the same destination.

It's called supply & demand. Like most businesses, they charge what they can get away with.

There is long-distance competition in Canada, so SHOP AROUND! Personally, I love Yak Commnications [www.yak.ca] . Despite the silly name, they are a legit phone company and have been around for years. Great prices.

Re:Please qualify the statement... (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288460)

By the way, can anyone tell me what determines the cost of an international call? My provider (Sprint Canada) charges an average of 49 cents/min for a call to Asia though you can use some of the many pre-paid phone cards and make a call at about 7 cents/min to the same destination.
It's pretty messed up. My wife calls back home to Spain all the time on her ATT cell phone (from the US). If she calls a land line it's like 2 cents a minute. If she calls a cell phone it's nearly 50 cents a minute. WTF??? I get pissed when she calls someone's cell for obvious reasons!

Re:Please qualify the statement... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289812)

7 cents/minHere in the UK they do that by having 270 minutes per hour.

The voice says "you have 110 mintes" and 8 minutes later, it says "you do not have enough credit for this call".

I am not sure why the telephone regulator has not done something about this, but I suspect corruption might have a bearing on it.

In other cases, notice that an unactivated phone card is worth about $0.005, while an activated one is worth $5. If you wanted a convenient waay to launder money, perhaps you should consider carrying a suitcase filled with unactivated phone cards over the boarder, and then activating them? More profitable than smuggling drugs, and you are less likely to go to jail.

calls not free to landlines (1)

cain (14472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286782)

VoIP to landland or cell phones are not free, at least if your time and friendships are worth something:

"Users NEW to the All Calls Free plan get 20 minutes of free calling simply by getting ONE friend to sign up for a new Gizmo account. There are no commitments and no hidden fees."

http://gizmo5.com/pc/network/mobile-or-landline-calls/ [gizmo5.com]

Re:calls not free to landlines (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287574)

Only if you make the call through Gizmo itself, and not GrandCentral. Through GrandCentral, it is free.

Re:calls not free to landlines (1)

cain (14472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289024)

How do you make calls through grand central? All I see is people call your grand central number and it gets routed where you want it. I don't see how you can call out using the grand central number. If you see that, please let me know. I know of no way to make VoIP calls to land lines or cell phones without paying.

Re:calls not free to landlines (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290692)

That is it, basically. You go to the Grand Central site, put your Gizmo SIP number in as one of your phone numbers, and then when you are in your addressbook, click the call them button for one of your contacts and make sure that Grand Central routes to your Gizmo number. They don't charge you a dime for this.

Re:calls not free to landlines (1)

cain (14472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290744)

Yes, but try calling a non-SIP number - a cell phone or a land land. Then they charge you or you have to use this "free" account, which, as I pointed out in the original post, is only free if your time or friends aren't worth anything to you.

Re:calls not free to landlines (1)

cain (14472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290790)

To be more clear: Grandcentral routes the call to your Gizmo account for free, but then Gizmo will charge you for PC-to-phone calls. From the Gizmo site:

Any call to a Gizmo5 user is free. No matter when, no matter where, no matter how long. Free. There's no monthly service charge. Nor is there a set up cost. Gizmo5 is free.

But,

The only calls you could ever have to pay for are calls to offline phones, i.e. mobile phones and landlines. But with Gizmo Call Out credits these calls are cheap and easy to administer.

Therefore calls from GrandCentral to cell and land lines (via Gizmo or anything I've ever found) are not free.

For reference: http://gizmo5.com/pc/network/free-computer-to-computer-calls [gizmo5.com]

skype (1)

urban_warrior (1001615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286822)

for the extra $3 a month i'd rather purchase the skype unlimited north america plan, the service and call quality are good and i dont't have to garble together a bunch of different services, for my $3 its just not worth the extra hassles to use gizmo or grand central.

just my $3

EPIC is coming... (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286842)

...sooner than you think. 2015 [makingithappen.co.uk] is way off. 2009? Maybe...

Re:EPIC is coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23288366)

Jesus, quit wasting our collective time with this trash.

Anyone read "The Religion War?" (2, Interesting)

cwolfsheep (685385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286878)

The idea of universal and free phone access was raised in Scott Adams' "The Religion War," as a hacker's dying act to make all telephone calls in the world free. The war ends almost as quick as it began, and society rededicates itself to sustaining this new and free communication network.

Another one?!? (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286898)

How many of these services are there now, hundreds at least. Maybe Google should make a search engine for VoIP services, so we can compare all the freeness.

IPKall (1)

glomph (2644) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287352)

IPKall [ipkall.com] has offered a free inbound number (which you can use with ANY publicly-reachable SIP service worldwide, including Gizmo/sipphone) for years. The numbers are in Washington State, but will work anywhere. Super-simple to set up. And it does not do the silly ringback method (hit 1 to receive the call, etc.) that GrandCentral does.

To -make- calls, if you have no other option, the GrandCentral web system (http://m.grandcentral.com/) is a bit clunky, but OK for residents of FreedomLand.

(I signed up long before the Google acquisition; my number still works after a LONG period of inactivity)

IPKall takes away your number if you don't use it for a few weeks.

bollocksware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286904)

I'm trying to think of a name for this technology. It's not vapourware, because it actually exists. It's not malware, but the amount of trouble it causes is comparable. It's like Linux was in 1990, fine if you have time to burn and want something that works 5% of the time to get a warm, smug geeky sense of satisfaction. I've tried Skype. It was bollocks. Worked about 10% of the time at most. Asterix systems too. All bollocks. Dropped calls, unintelligable connections, configuration nightmares, lots of "enterprise" companies offering things but no service or readable documentation from anyone. Like a secret club of people who don't really want you to know how to do it. Lot's of partial truths about the resquirements, hyperbole, talking it up as new panacea when in reality its unusable. That's the reality of VOIP. Sure it will "get there". In about 5 years when the ISPs carve up the land. Then it will cost as much as regular telephony and nobody will notice the difference. I name VOIP "bollocksware". It will never be anything but a geek curiosity in its present form.

Re:bollocksware (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286962)

no no. it works. you just need to be connected via T1 ... and so does the party you're calling ... and they've got to be close.

Bollocks, I say. Skype works and has the same sorts of limitations as calling overseas (call quality sucks for that regularly!).

Re:bollocksware (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288154)

I've got a Linksys SPA 2102 connected to a regular/crappy DSL line -it does traffic shaping on my home network, so it's much better than a soft phone. Calls are as clear or clearer than POTS calls, and I can get cheap or free SIP termination and DIDs in virtually any country (Acanac.com in Canada; combining them with voxalot.com). While a bit difficult to parse, there is a lot of information about providers on www.voip-info.org

I also try to use a soft phone over my school's wireless occasionally -and I can see why many people think voip is poor quality.

So ummm... (1)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23286946)

Isn't it actually Gizmo that is making and receiving the free phone calls? So why not just use it? Or did I miss a big piece of the article because to me it just looks like the author is using Grand Central to push a call through Gizmo.

Re:So ummm... (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289436)

AFAICT, what he is doing is placing a call from the grand central address book. Google then calls your phone (or in this case the SIPphone (GIZMO) account). When you pick up, Google then dials the party you selected, and connects the two calls. I'm guessing there is some reason why he is using a sipphone (GIZMO) account rather than a regular phone. I'm not sure what the reason is. But the point is Google is making two phone calls, (only one routed over POTS though), and thus is the one footing the bill for the call (as the caller always pays under the US system, except for "toll-free" calls, third-party billing, or collect calls).

Re:So ummm... (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289668)

But...but...Google!! Google!!

combine this with a hosted pbx and unified system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23286998)

I use www.innoport.com which allows APIs for customizing access...

Re:combine this with a hosted pbx and unified syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287210)

Congratulations douchebag.

Fsck apple ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23287250)

The iwank touch does not have a microphone. How does one intend to speak? I know you apple fanboys ignore facts, but overcoming impossibilities will surely shatter your gay world?

why bother? (1)

bwy (726112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23287740)

I've never understood people's desire to use VOIP over WiFi on their cell phones. What is wrong with just using your phone?

My wife and I share a family plan and we get plenty of minutes, and they roll over which is a big help because we don't have to have a plan that allows for that one month when we have higher than normal usage.

I guess some people are on the phone constantly and have to buy a prohibitively expensive plan? But are we talking 5000 minutes or what? Business folk who are on the phone that much every month probably need some mobility- i.e. you'd like to be able to leave your hotspot while on an important phone call.

what I love about grand central. (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288018)

I love being able to record calls, I love the call screening, and I love being able to select which number I receive calls on.

voice mail in your email, selectable ring-ins.

I love grand central.

Google Voip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23288090)

Just another thing Google can do and MS or Apple or ? cannot do because of antitrust. How is Google able to do basically whatever it wants to and no one else can(specifically M$FT)? I smell a rat, but I sure the bulk of true /. people just love the monopoly Google is trying to develope as /. ers and others try to destroy the bad M$FT Just thoughts

Re:Google Voip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23289828)

You're an idiot. Nothing is stopping Microsoft or Apple from doing this. Microsoft was guilty of leveraging it's monopoly to kill off competitors. Microsoft can do this as long as it doesn't prevent competitors from doing it on their platform/technology. I don't see why Apple would be prevented from doing this either. What monopoly does Apple have? iTunes? No there is enough competition out there. Stop being a retarded douchebag.

Works well with "My Circle" plans as well... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288142)

GrandCentral - from whom I've had a number since before Google bought them - gives you the option of providing either (a) the caller's caller-ID, or (b) GrandCentral's caller-ID. If you use option (b), you give up knowing who's calling you before picking up the phone, but you can add GrandCentral to your "Fave-5" or whever you might have.

GrandCentral will still tell you who's calling, of ocurse...

One place for ALL msgs (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288372)

What I love about GC is checking my email ALSO gets me my voicemail. No more checking a cell's vm, home machine, email all separately.

The time savings is great. Add that I get messages sooner that way too.

Finally, unlike the article's comment, it was just a few hours from when I reserved a number (in a more useful calling area for me) to when I was included in the beta (how sweet is that?)

It will be interesting to see what their revenue model is after beta...

Re:One place for ALL msgs (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288558)

It will be interesting to see what their revenue model is after beta...
That's the great thing about it. Since Google bought it, you know it will be in beta forever!

No, thanks! I prefer to pay xebba.com for privacy (1)

AngryDad (947591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288758)

Before you sign up, read GrandCentral's terms and conditions. I'd suggest using Xebba [xebba.com] instead. They are not completely free, but they specifically mention that they do not record calls and do not harvest anything from your conversations.

Flash? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23288828)

From the Grand Central [grandcentral.com] homepage:

You need Flash to use GrandCentral. Get it here [adobe.com]
Ok, is there any chance of this working with actual, published, open protocols for making and receiving calls?

Or do I need to have Flash on my phone?

Re:Flash? (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289198)

If you read the article it says grand central gives you a sip number, you can use that with any sip device (thats what the other program is for, you could really just use any softphone.

free calls... who cares? (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289444)

Phone calls are not all that expensive anymore, and most people who really need free calls just use VoIP.

I think GrandCentral needs to do a lot more to appeal to people. Right now, its model is that you give out its number to everybody and it then connects to your devices. I think that model is too rigid. They should offer different services (voice mail, forwarding, parallel forwarding, voice response, VoIP, etc.) and let the users decide how to connect those services to each other and to phone numbers.

Also, there are some really important pieces missing, like the ability to forward SMSs.

Re:free calls... who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23289732)

Hey nguy,

          Maybe you didn't look closely at what GrandCentral is offering. They do offer voice mail, forwarding, VoIP, call transfer, call recording, call now buttons (masking your number), simultaneous ring (calls mobile, land, gizmo), call screening, call blocking by number, and several other features. They are definately in beta but I think they have plenty to "appeal to people." http://www.grandcentral.com/home/features [grandcentral.com]

The ol' Ringtone game... (1)

swokm (1140623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23289464)

I distinctly detect the reek of 'evil'...

Q: GrandCentral users have been able to upload sound files for their own ring back tones. Will this feature continue to be offered?
A. GrandCentral users will be able to choose from a selection of licensed sound files made available within the GrandCentral service, but will not be able to upload their own files.
Knee-capping an existing service in order to force people to rent crappy 1k midi files for eternity?

Yep. Evil, alright.

Any service that'll forward a landline 2 ur cell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23289652)

I'd love to get rid of my landline to save money but I've had that phone number for 10 years so I'd rather not lose it. Are there any cheap services that can forward a landline to a cell number?

My Options Are Disappearing (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23290278)

It's getting more and more difficult to be "out of touch", and I'm pretty sure I don't like it. Once upon a time, you could avoid somebody for a while without being flat-out rude to them.

Now we can't even use expense as a reason not to be at everybody's beck and call. I guess I'll just have to amend my message to say something like, "Dave only collects voice mail once a day, and it looks like you already missed today's check-in. Sorry."

More to my taste would be something like, "Fuck off, I'm busy", but for some reason it's frowned upon in a business environment.

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