Yahoo Messenger's Voice Calling Service

Woman in call center on phone
Reza Estakhrian / Getty Images

Yahoo Voice was discontinued on January 30, 2013. The service is no longer available for use. We retain the following lightly edited content, originally written while Yahoo Voice was an active product, for historical purposes only.

Yahoo Voice was part of the popular Yahoo Messenger instant-messaging application and service. It supported PC-to-PC calls or PC-to-phone calls. Yahoo Voice used Voice-over-IP technology and the outward calling part was handled by its partner Jajah. Yahoo was a serious competitor to other VoIP software-based services, especially Skype and Windows Live Messenger. Its strong points were its great popularity, openness with community chatting, and its cheap rates for PC-to-phone calling.

What We Liked

  • One of the cheapest prices for worldwide PC-to-phone calling, starting at 1 cent per minute
  • Chat communities where many people can meet and talk
  • Video conferencing with enhanced voice conferencing features
  • Simple voicemail
  • Worked on some mobile phones

What We Didn't Like

  • Call quality, while relatively fair, wasn't quite as good as e.g. Skype
  • The application was quite heavy on system resources

Expert Review

Yahoo Messenger allowed free voice and video calling, as is possible with most of the VoIP softphones around like Skype. All users needed to have good internet connections and the necessary hardware like a headset or a webcam. The service was free only for PC-to-PC calls.

The paid part of the service, Yahoo Voice, was offered in partnership with Jajah. This service was among the cheapest on the market. Calls to U.S. destinations cost 1 cent per minute and 2 cents for some common destinations, mainly in Europe. Overall, the rates were on average cheaper than those of Skype, which charged some extra fees.

However, Yahoo Voice call quality, while being fair, wasn’t as good as Skype’s, as the latter has better quality mechanisms. But if you have a good internet connection and the right hardware configuration, the Yahoo voice experience isn’t that bad.

You could also buy a phone number for call-forwarding. Such a so-called Phone-In number cost $2.49 per month. Upon receiving a call, if you were not logged in or were not willing to answer, the call went directly to voicemail. This approach was easier than with Skype, which required a subscription.

Yahoo was socially more open than Skype and many other softphones, in that it was among the very few that allowed public chatting on large scale. This openness gave Yahoo an edge that others did not have — the multi-party voice sessions, where you can talk to dozens of other people.

Finally, like Skype, Yahoo Messenger and hence the Yahoo Voice service was supported on a number of mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone and BlackBerry.