Yahoo IM Adds VoIP

Yahoo has added a computer-based calling feature to its instant messaging tool. For no more than 2 cents a minute, Yahoo Messenger with Voice users can now reach the 30 top national phone markets. Additionally, with the "Phone In" feature, U.S. consumers can receive calls on their computers from traditional and mobile phones for $2.99 a month--or $29.90 a year.

The move attempts to best rates offered by eBay's Skype. Yahoo Messenger with Voice rates average between 20 and 30 percent lower than Skype's for many major markets outside the United States, according to Yahoo estimates. Yahoo and other companies with instant messaging services view VoIP as a necessary add-on to retain users--and serve them ads.

Yahoo is working with Global IP Sound--the same software provider used by Yahoo rivals, including AOL, Google, and Skype. Google launched its service last April.

The new PC-based calling features were initially introduced to international users in Dec. 2005, and will continue to be rolled out in additional localized versions.

The new Yahoo Messenger with Voice features will also be introduced into Yahoo's co-branded Internet access services, including AT&T Yahoo high-speed Internet, in the coming months.

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