I had a great weekend. At a banquet/awards ceremony in Washington,D.C., my blogs and videos won the Online Commentary (Large Institution)award from the Online News Association. Thanks, dudes!So I’m feelinggenerous. How would you like to make all the overseas phone calls youwant for free?And not using Skype or some other sit-at-your-computergeekiness,either. I’m talking about picking up your phone and dialinganinternational phone number for free.Incredibly, that’s exactly what acompany called Futurephoneis offering. There’s no contract, fees,taxes, signup, registration orcalling cards; you don’t even give themyour name or e-mail address.You just pick up the phone—home phone,office phone, cellphone—and makea free call to Argentina, Australia,China, England, France, Iceland,Israel, Mexico, Venezuela or any of 40other countries.The possible catch: you reach Futurephone’sinternational dial toneby calling a number in Iowa, which is a domesticcall that you have topay for.Of course, for a lot of people, that’sstill free. Use yourcellphone on a night or weekend, for example. Orsign up for aflat-rate unlimited calling plan at home. Or see if youroffice has anunlimited long-distance plan.So here’s how it works: Call712-858-8883.
At the prompt, press 1 for English. Then punch in 011,the countrycode and the phone number. That’s it. The call ringsthroughimmediately. Truth is, I don’t know what Futurephone’s game ishere. They saythey’re giving away the calls in order to “build up thecompany’sbrand-name recognition. Our plan is to offer additionalservices in thefuture.” And they promise that this freebie will be inplace for atleast three years, through 2010.I tested out this service,and it’s exactly what it promises to be:free overseas phone calls. Ichatted casually with my friend Guillaumein France and Albert in Spain(whom longtime Pogue’s Posts readers willremember as my Barcelona tourguide this summer). The one disappointment: I couldn’t seem to reachcellphone numbers.The company says that it’s still working outagreements with the cellcarriers in some countries.Otherwise, the soundquality was about the same as any overseas call. The only difference:it was all free.