When I was a lad, international phone calls cost a small fortune and the line was often so bad you could hardly understand what the person on the other end was saying. Over the years the cost of international telephone calls slowly dropepd and quality improved, and for the past few years DW has been able to call her overseas relatives using a pre-paid 'calling card' which only cost a few cents per minute for calls from Australia to the US and Malaysia.
Now calls to the US (landline numbers) can be made at practically no cost, with the advent of free internet calls to US numbers via GMail for Australian users (if they have their GMail account setup to use US English). DW has made a couple of half-hour VOIP calls to her sister in the US using GMail, and was delighted with the quality (and no cost). Apparently the service is free until the end of 2010, so I'm not sure if there will be charges for using it in future (for example, calls to mobile phones cost a few cents). Any charge would have to be negligible or else DW will go back to using her 'calling card', especially since she can't use the GMail VOIP to make free calls to Malaysia.
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