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Yahoo Launches VoIP Service Linked To Web Features

The crowded VoIP sector is getting another major player. Yahoo Inc., which is entering the field with a service that in many ways is cheaper than Web phoning pacesetter Skype, and putting another nail in the coffin of traditional landline telephoning.

The Yahoo offering, to be available in 180 countries, will link with existing Yahoo e-mail and instant messaging features, and that appears to be what will distinguish the service from many of its competitors.

Calling plans will differ from country to country, but PC-to-PC calls among Yahoo users will be free. A "Phone Out" feature will enable callers to call from their U.S. PCs to public switched telephone network subscribers for a penny a minute to U.S. destinations and about two pennies to other countries.

The service and its linkage to other Yahoo features are largely based on technology developed by a team from Dialpad, which Yahoo acquired last year.

Another feature called "Phone In" is priced about $30 a year and enables a subscriber to receive incoming calls after picking a phone number.

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