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Ring Free (RF), in beta now, offers iPhone users the opportunity to make calls to Skype users anywhere — at the cost of a local call.

Register yourself and your iPhone at rf.com, write down a four digit code, allow your browser to kick off a local call to Ring Free, punch in the code. Your phone and your account are now tied together. Setup done.

Working through a dialer displayed in your browser, select “Skype”, enter a Skype user name and then punch the “Call” button. You’ll likely enter buddies into your favourites — an alternate page to the dialer.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Calling from RF’s “dialer” or “favorites” pages kicks off a real phone call on your iPhone to RF’s servers — a call which you’re asked to allow. When their servers answer they’re able to associate your phone number with your account. They Skype out for you, from their own Skype accounts, of which they’ll have many instances. The recipient receives an instant message giving your cell number as a sort of pre-announced caller ID on the incoming call — since the actual caller ID on the recipient’s side will be a Ring Free account.

  • You don’t need your own Skype account to use Ring Free
  • You can’t tell from you iPhone whether your Skype buddy is online before calling
  • You’ll still be out the cost of a local call if your Skype buddy doesn’t answer

 
Unfortunately Ring Free’s servers are swamped and most calls to their servers ring engaged! But if you’re lucky, you’ll get to speak to family and friends in far flung places for the cost of a local US call on your iPhone!

Suggested reading: Fring, a beta VoIP application for “jail broken” iPhones | If you’re willing to shell out some money on your international calls then you might find Packet8’s MobileTalk or Truphone interesting | Use your existing Skype account to send IMs through this SHAPE site — if you trust them to handle your Skype username/password securely |

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