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Web Browsers Earn Free Long Distance Calls

Techstination feature for Wednesday, July 5, 2000

It has a crude and sure to be controversial ad campaign planned, but a company called bigredwire is sure to win a lot of customers. It is offering free long distance calling, as much as 150 dollars worth a month, domestic and international, if you agree to view banner ads through their Web site at General manager Frank Jiang... ..

"Every time you go back to our site, you're basically going to be seeing ads, but then again, you're not going to be inundated with ads because you are only going to see three or four or five different ads when you go through. What we're hoping is that customers are going to come through, they're going to see the value of our product and they're really going to use our site to go through to other sites."

What you are doing is accumulating points, or what bigredwire calls Volts, you can use to pay off your long distance charges. If you don't...

"Our rate is basically five cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere from state to state in the United States."

The calls use regular phone lines... not the Internet... so the quality is what you're accustomed to...

"You just pick up your normal telephone, you make a telephone call and you hang up. The voice quality is excellent and you don't have to dial any extra numbers like a phone card.

Is it worth the bother? Is there a catch? The service has just launched in the U.S., so I'll hold off on my opinion for now. But it sounds good. You can find a link from our home on the Web at Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin for CBS News.