Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Free Gmail Calling Is the New Landline

One of every four American homes has only wireless telephones, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Personally, having only the very occasional need for a fax machine, I too am one of those mobile cord cutters.

But the thing is, I need to actually converse with people when I make phone calls, and that’s often impossible using AT&T in San Francisco. The majority of mobile calls made from my apartment on my cellphone are dropped or inaudible. So you might say I should regret that decision to drop the landline when I moved earlier this year.

But because of free Gmail voice calling (which launched last August), I’m doing okay. My home Internet service (also provided by AT&T, I should say) is mostly reliable, so I just dial out of my Web browser using my laptop’s built-in speakers and microphone. The calls almost always connect and sound fine.

Google announced today that this free calling from the U.S. to anywhere in the States and Canada would be extended through all of 2011 (back in August, it said it wouldn’t charge for those calls “for at least the rest of the year”).

Since I have a Google Voice account (which isn’t required to make calls), I can also receive calls in Gmail. When I dial out, my calls look like they’re coming from my Google Voice number.

I wouldn’t mind having a cellphone that actually worked for voice calls, but for now this will continue to be my backup.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work