Saturday, February 17, 2007

Gizmo Project: Call Pope Benedict for Free

I think Gizmo is just using the Pope as an example of what their software can do. Yet is it really possible to call the pope long distance, and not even pay anything? That's the claim in this article by Michael Robertson, creator of the Gizmo Project:

Call The Pope For Free

It's now free to call the Pope or anyone else in Vatican City using Gizmo Project. In fact, you can now call telephones in 60 countries for free thanks to a new friends and family type calling program offered by SIPphone. (Read this page for specific instructions for how to get going with it.) Various press accounts have said its either crazy or clever. My inbox is full of lots of questions about this program so I thought I'd address them all at once publicly:

Q: You keep saying, "calls are going to be free", but that's just a marketing ploy right? You don't really mean it, do you?

A: I really mean it - calls will be free. Just look at the calling promotions being offered by some of the leading VOIP companies. They are continually lowering calling costs, which will eventually end at absolutely free calling: [...]

Robertson has some interesting comments about the price of phone calls. He maintains changes are happening, phone prices are dropping and pretty soon, phone calls will be just another digital transmission, FREE of charge like sending an email (for those who have an ISP account, of course). A few more excerpts:

Q: Moving phone calls around the planet costs money - someone has to pay. Nothing is free.

A: A telephone call is simply data representing audio signals moving along copper wires. Sending an email is also data moving along copper wires and so is zapping an instant message around the world. In each of these examples, there are costs involved but the costs are so small that it costs more to try to measure than the actual cost! So basic services can be offered which are free to the user and make money in other ways through premium services, advertising or other cross-sells. Just as you have free email and instant messaging services, a completely free voice service is also nearly practical.

Q: Phone calls require an enormous amount of equipment and cabling so your comparison to email is inaccurate.

A: Many decades ago there was enormous amounts of equipment built to handle phone calls, but that equipment has been paid for many times over. The phone companies own it free and clear and maintenance is minimal. Today, money is being spent on equipment to bring internet connectivity to users either via wireless, DSL or cable lines, which allows for all types of services including TV, video on demand, net access, and calls. The cost of this equipment is covered with a monthly subscription for internet access, making the voice component a tiny slice.

Q: Local calls might be cheap, but long distance calls can be expensive.

A: It doesn't cost more to send an email message to someone far away - it shouldn't cost more to make a call to someone far away - it's just data on a copper wire. Long distance may still be expensive but only because of the exorbitant costs imposed by governments or grandfatherly telephone companies seeking to generate revenue off their citizens who are forced to use their service. Eventually this goes to zero because users are revolting and using net-calling to avoid these fees. [...]

I can't print the whole thing here, but it's worth following the link and reading it all, it's not very long.

Can you REALLY call the pope?

Q: Can I really call the Pope on Gizmo Project?
A: Yes. His username is Pope_Benedict. Double click to call him. If he's not online, right click and dial his home line (remember this is a free call). [...]

I find that hard to believe, the pope taking phone calls, at HOME no less, from all over the world, from just ANYONE, anytime.

Although the Gizmo software sounds interesting, I've already got a good calling plan; I don't use the phone a lot, and I'm not really motivated to install the sofware and try it out, at least not right now. But if I was, I'd be curious to try phoning the pope and see what happens. What would I say?

"Hi. I'm not even Catholic or anything, I just wanted to see if you would answer the phone."


I suspect getting through to the pope may be more theoretical than literal. For the call to be free, it has to be from one Gizmo phone computer to another (which the Vatican does have, apparently), but there are other conditions as well. You have to have shared "profiles" with the party you are calling, whatever that means.

You can use Gizmo software to call non-Gizmo people who have regular phones, but the call won't be free. However, it will be very inexpensive, the rates are cheap, just pennies. Even for international calls!

You can read more about the Gizmo project, and even download the software and try it out, at this link:

Gizmo Project

If anyone try's calling the pope, I'd love to hear about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its sounds interesting, but i'm quite depressed when these free call facilities are only for selected Countries only.