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Yahoo! gives US free phone calls via Web

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Search engine Goliath Yahoo! has launched a service with Net2Phone offering free phone calls via the Web.

Registered users in the US are being tempted by a range of other cybergoodies in today's announcement - these include being able to listen to emails or Yahoo-tailored information such as stock quotes, news, sport and weather by phone, and free voicemail.

The move is part of Yahoo!'s bid for world domination in the area of making Web site content available to users even when they are nowhere near a computer - be it through mobile or land line phones, pagers or general wireless devices. It hopes to accompany the information spouted down the phone with brief ads - around three to eight seconds long, and also hopes that the services will be a carrot for new users.

Of course, the services will not be totally free to mobile users, who will see them eat into their precious minutes on their call plans to access the information.

These "Yahoo! by Phone" services provide free access to the personalised My Yahoo content over the phone via a freephone 1-800-MY-YAHOO number.

Meanwhile, the California-based company has added a "call" button to its instant messenger service that lets users make free long distance or local calls via their computer to any phone in the US. All users need is a computer hooked up to the Net, microphone, speakers and sound card.

"Yahoo! By Phone allows consumers to access the same personalized Yahoo! content and services they already enjoy on their PC, through the ubiquitous convenience of a phone," said Anurag Mendhekar, Yahoo Everywhere director. "This new service extends our Yahoo Everywhere strategy, by empowering consumers to access Yahoo from any phone, anywhere and anytime."

Yahoo! is due to release its results for the third quarter after end of trading today. ®

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