Google Voice Extends Free Calling Through 2011

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google will continue to offer free telephone calls in Gmail through all of 2011.

Google on Tuesday said calls made within the United States and to Canada would remain free “in the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year.” The company first introduced free calling in Gmail in August, saying the service would be available at no charge only for the rest of the year.

While Google has framed the giveaway in the context of the holiday spirit, it’s more likely the latest move is primarily to boost usage of its Google Voice Internet telephony service, which has been integrated into Gmail. Google is building Gmail into a communication hub encompassing phone calls, e-mail, and instant messaging. Gmail has hundreds of millions of active users, so providing free calling through the service is expected to encourage wider use of Google Voice in time. Google Voice was made available to the public in June after a lengthy period of closed testing.

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