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Military can make free calls to US using Gmail


U.S. military personnel based abroad can make free phone calls home, starting immediately, using Google's calling program from Gmail.

Google announced the program on its Gmail blog.

"We understand that it’s not always easy or affordable for our troops serving overseas to call friends and family at home, so starting today we’re making it completely free for all uniformed military personnel with valid United States Military (.mil) email addresses to call the United States, right from Gmail," wrote Ilya Frank, a senior software engineer for the company:

There are two easy steps to enable free calling from Gmail (detailed instructions):

  1. Add your valid .mil email address to your Google Account
  2. Click on the Call phone link at the top of the Gmail chat roster and install the voice and video Gmail plugin if you haven’t already.

For friends and family in the U.S. who want to reach their loved ones abroad who are in the military, the cost starts at 2 cents a minute, Frank said.

Also, "similar to free calling within the U.S., free calling to the U.S. for service members will be available for at least the rest of 2011."

You can learn more about Gmail calling here. The search giant launched its phone call service a year ago, although it has had video and voice chat since 2008).

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