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Amazingly, a company called Futurephone is offering free international calls. In David Pogue's words:

There’s no contract, fees, taxes, signup, registration or calling cards; you don’t even give them your name or e-mail address. You just pick up the phone—home phone, office phone, cellphone—and make a free call to Argentina, Australia, China, England, France, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Venezuela or any of 40 other countries.

The possible catch: you reach Futurephone’s international dial tone by calling a number in Iowa, which is a domestic call that you have to pay for.

Of course, for a lot of people, that’s still free. Use your cellphone on a night or weekend, for example. Or sign up for a flat-rate unlimited calling plan at home. Or see if your office has an unlimited long-distance plan.

So here’s how it works: Call 712-858-8883.

At the prompt, press 1 for English. Then punch in 011, the country code and the phone number. That’s it. The call rings through immediately.

Truth is, I don’t know what Futurephone’s game is here. They say they’re giving away the calls in order to “build up the company’s brand-name recognition. Our plan is to offer additional services in the future.” And they promise that this freebie will be in place for at least three years, through 2010.

I tested out this service, and it’s exactly what it promises to be: free overseas phone calls. I chatted casually with my friend Guillaume in France and Albert in Spain (whom longtime Pogue’s Posts readers will remember as my Barcelona tour guide this summer).

The one disappointment: I couldn’t seem to reach cellphone numbers. The company says that it’s still working out agreements with the cell carriers in some countries.

Otherwise, the sound quality was about the same as any overseas call. The only difference: it was all free.

More bad news for the US telcos (BLS, T) and Vonage (NYSE:VG). And eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) acquisition of Skype now looks even more expensive...

Full disclosure: I own LEAP puts in BLS and T at the time of writing.

Source: Free International Calls Are Latest Threat to the Telcos