The latest twist on internet disruption of telephony is a free online conference calling service called Foonz.com. Create an account and then you can organize a conference (group) call by having Foonz alert the participants (invitees) by e-mail, IM, or text message to a cellphone.
Once you create an account, you’ll get a phone number to call to set up your group call. Each person on the call phones in to a central number, just like a regular telephone conference call. Foonz links the calls.
To add a contact, you must enter a cellphone number or IM screen name. It’s not clear if one person can be a member of multiple
The website conspicuously lacks info on the nature of the call-in
number. For example, traditional conference calls have a toll-free
call-in number. These aren’t: mine has a 712 area code, geographically
the Western fifth of Iowa. This means long
distance charges for most land-lines and some cellphone plans. However,
the rise in cellphone use (and plans with "free" long distance) coupled
with VoIP services like Skype make it clear that the concept of a
"long-distance call" — at least within the geographic boundaries of
the US — is quickly coming to an end.
Hard to gauge the demand for a service like this. I don’t know how many people need to arrange a conference call with more than three people (a fairly easy-to-create call on most POTS phones).