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Microsoft, Telefonica dial up Live Messenger VoIP

Companies team up to take on eBay's popular Skype in Latin America and the States. And with Voype's competitive pricing, it may prove to be a viable alternative.

Telefonica, the largest telecommunications provider in Latin America, announced on Friday that it has officially been chosen by Microsoft to provide voice over Internet Protocol services to Windows Live Messenger customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, the United States, and Venezuela.

Dubbed Voype, Telefonica's VoIP service works with Live Messenger and will enable Windows Live customers to make calls directly from their PCs to any landline or mobile phone in the world.

Obviously taking aim at eBay's popular Skype Internet telephony technology, Microsoft's Live Messenger VoIP solution may not be such a bad choice. Calls to and from other Live Messenger users are free, and calls made to landlines or cell phones in the United States cost just $0.014 per minute.

Rates are slightly higher in Canada and the United Kingdom--$0.055 and $0.023 per minute, respectively--but the service's rate list reveals relatively competitive pricing. In fact, calls made in the States are cheaper on Voype than those made on Skype. Skype currently charges $0.021 for all calls sent to people in the United States.

That said, Voype is still in its infant stages. It's currently available in select countries around the world but will soon be made available to customers in Latin America, which could increase its installed base.

More importantly, current Voype users won't be able to receive calls on their PC. According to Telefonica, that functionality is scheduled for release at a "later point," as part of the "second phase."