In case you haven’t been roped into creating and signing up for a Google Hangout account, the service from the search and tech giant was created to give Google users an easy instant messaging platform, similar to Skype.

The service makes text messages and video conferencing available, but today the company announced that you will be able to make free calls through the Hangout application as well. Well, the calls are only free if you live in the US or Canada, but it has also posted rather competitive international calling rates.

“From Hangouts on your computer, just type in a phone number or pick one of your contacts. Once you’re talking, it’s easy to add more people and start a conference call, turn your conversation into a video call, or add fun sound effects. Best of all, calls placed to the US and Canada are free, and calls to other countries have super low rates,” Google posted in the updated product description.

But here is the thing: it turns out that it is in fact a couple of cents cheaper to call your fellow Google Hangout mates in South Africa from abroad than what it is to call them on MTN locally. Calling isn’t available in all countries though, like Mexico for example, but according to its site it is available in South Africa. (Out of the African countries, it’s not available in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.)

MTN “slashed” its voice dialling rates in April to R0.79c a minute, but according to the Google Hangouts price list, it cost 7 US cents to call South Africa – which translates to R 0.76c a minute. To call South African landlines, the price has been listed as 3 US cents, while ‘special’ numbers are listed as 15 US cents.

And there is another catch: in order to receive calls, text messages, and voicemails in Hangouts, which most people would want of course, is that that you need a Google Voice account, which is currently only available in the U.S.

Now, if there was only a way to spoof your locations to the US…

[Source – Google, Image – Shutterstock]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.