BT and Yahoo launch instant message voice service

BT and Yahoo have launched a new service allowing users to make phone calls over Yahoo's instant messenger service. BT Communicator, which was due to be launched in September, but it seems has been brought forward to now adds extra features to Yahoo Messenger. The main ones the ability to phone another PC, landline or mobile phone from your computer's desktop. Users must have a BT landline and calls will be charged according to your current BT package.

Yahoo Messenger is a free download, however for £3.50 a month you can add internet call waiting for alerts to incoming calls while you are surfing and call barring to stop unwanted numbers being called from your PC.

It's an interesting approach, and one that Andrew Burke, the director of online services for BT Retail, is very keen on: "Our plan is to make it easier for people to make calls, whether from a PC or a phone." But even though BT's call revenues may be hit by customers switching from phones to PCs to make their calls, BT is still confident: "We have 8 million people using the Option 2 and Option 3 packages from BT Together, which allow unlimited calls in the UK, subject to restriction. The BT Communicator option with Yahoo is just an expansion of this service," says Burke.

According to BT and Yahoo, the Communicator takes the best technology from both companies to offer a "truly converged multimedia communications experience", which is "way ahead of anything else available".

BT and Yahoo are hoping to add a four-way video option to the service at the beginning of next year so you can chat face to face with friends.