North American users of Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG) voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service, Google Voice, will continue to get free calling in the U.S. and Canada through next year.
The service, which allows users to make phone calls over the Internet through their desktop computers, smartphones or tablets, also allows phone calls outside North America at hugely reduced rates compared to traditional services, Forbes noted. Google Voice competes with Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype VoIP service.
Google’s decision to maintain free VoIP calling in the U.S. comes as the market for Internet telephony continues to explode, with revenues hitting about $15.4 billion this year, according to industry research firms. Up to 30 million U.S. residents are currently paying for VoIP services, which can be purchased from Internet service providers and cable companies, as well as other vendors.
Google has also integrated its VoIP service into its Nexus 4 smartphone. The app, known as Google Voice or Google Chat, depending on device and operating system, is available for most mobile devices, including those running Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.
Shares of Google fell fractionally in Thursday morning trading.