Gmail brings Skype rival Google Voice to UK

Gmail brings Skype rival Google Voice to UK

Summary: For the first time, Gmail users outside the US can make paid-for calls from the email client to landlines and mobile phones around the world using Google Voice


Gmail users in the UK are now able to make low-cost calls from the email client to landlines and mobile phones.

Gmail calling

Google has rolled out VoIP calls from within Gmail to the UK. Screenshot: CNET News

It was already possible to make free Gmail-to-Gmail voice calls in the UK, but on Tuesday Google said in a blog post it was opening up the paid-for Google Voice functionality to users outside the US for the first time. People in US have been able to do this since last year.

"You can now buy calling credit in your choice of four currencies (Euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars or US dollars) and there are no connection fees, so you only pay for the time you talk," Gmail product manager Pierre Lebeau said in the blog post. He added that the service is now available in 38 languages.

Google Apps users will have to get their domain administrators to enable Google Voice and Google Checkout in order to use the service, Lebeau noted.

The move will make Google a stronger competitor to Skype, currently the world's leading voice-over-IP (VoIP) provider. For example, calls made from Gmail to mobile phones in the UK, France or Germany cost eight euro cents (7p) per minute. Calls made from Skype to the same numbers cost around 15p per minute.

Skype and Google also recently became competitors in the market for video calling inside social networks. Skype's service is now integrated with Facebook, and group video-chat is a prominent feature of the Google+ social network.

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Topic: Apps

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Gmail calling is not the same as Google Voice and if Google wants to rival Skype they need to integrate Google Talk and Google Voice as one unified communications suite. Gmail calling is nothing but Gtalk with the added functionality of calling mobile and landlines - there is no competitive advantage here. I already use cheaper and more functional services. Where Google can thrive is in the added functionality and inter-operability provided by the combined force of all its platforms (Google (Search, Mail and Plus), Android, Chrome, Contact and perhaps Calendar. Just think of the endless possibilities here.
    I'm sure they are working on it, therefore we celebrate these baby steps but considered as an end in itself, it is no news.
  • So why isn't this available in my Google Apps Administrator control panel?
  • You can use the Google VoIP calling service from your home phone with an OBi110 telephone adapter from Obihai Technology. Amazon uk has it for sale for £49.00 (free shipping). No need to use a computer or even have the computer turned on.
  • This isn't Google Voice. Granted, Google has bungled their product naming, differentiation, and implementation with regard to telephony - but I'd expect ZDNet to realize this isn't Google Voice.
  • As you say, there has been a product-naming issue here. "Google Voice" is used to refer to the technology, but an extra-large set of Google Voice features has been available in the US for some time - the ability to have a 'real' number for incoming calls, that makes real phones ring, is chief among those features.

    So, when some people see "Google Voice" they tend to think of all those features. However, the calling-from-Gmail thing is also Google Voice - it says so in Google's blog post, and it says so when you turn the functionality on, when it tells you to accept the T&C that "Google Voice is an enhanced call management application and that Google Voice is not capable of placing and receiving emergency service calls".

    What UK users are getting is Google Voice, just not as much Google Voice as their US cousins get.

    As to why it was not available in your admin control panel, @robeandrews, well Google had said it would take a few days to roll out so I hope it's there now.
    David Meyer