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Gmail voice calling offering lower international rates

Accessible through Gmail, Google's phone call feature is being rolled out in 38 new languages with cheaper rates across more than 150 countries.

Lance Whitney/CNET

Now expanding to 38 new languages, Gmail's phone call feature has kicked in a slew of cheaper rates to more than 150 countries.

An alternative to Skype, Google's calling feature enables you to make free domestic and inexpensive international calls to any mobile phone or landline via Gmail Chat.

Launched almost a year ago, the feature racked up more than 1 million calls its first day and has continued to expand, most recently offering the ability to make multiple calls at the same time.

Now, Gmail calling has expanded again in a move designed to save its users some money.

The company began rolling out the feature yesterday in 38 new languages for those who use Gmail outside the United States. As part of the global push, people making international calls will now be able to buy phone credits in U.S. dollars, euros, British pounds, and Canadian dollars, and will only pay for the time they talk.

Even further, Google is trimming its calling rates to a host of countries around the world.

As examples cited in a Google blog yesterday, people will now have to shell out only 10 cents a minute to call mobile phones in the U.K., France, or Germany (calls to landlines will still be 2 cents a minute); 15 cents a minute to call mobile phones in Mexico; and 2 cents a minute to call any number in China or India.

In comparison, calls to mobile phones previously cost 18 cents a minute in the U.K., 15 cents in France, and 17 cents in Germany. Calls to mobile phones in Mexico were 19 cents, while all calls to India were 10 cents a minute.

Calls to the U.S. or Canada from the countries cited above will be free for the rest of the year. Calls to the U.S. or Canada from outside those countries will cost 1 cent per minute.

The new languages and rates are launching over the next few days, so some countries may not yet have it. To confirm if it's available in your country, Google says you should see a small green phone icon appear at the top of your chat list when you open your Gmail account.

Those of you who've never used Gmail voice calling before can learn more about it from CNET's hands-on review.

Updated 11:15 a.m. PT with examples of previous calling rates.