Did you know that it's possible to make free international calls from your computer?

That's right - as long as you have an internet connection and the right hardware on your computer, it is really easy to make totally free international long distance calls.

You can now talk to your friends and relatives overseas for free using some simple software available on the internet. You should have a broadband internet connection for the best call quality, but it is possible to make calls over a dial up connection.

Here's how to make free international calls over the internet:

First of all, make sure your computer has a sound card with a speaker and microphone jack.

Look at the back of your PC and see where your speakers are connected; this is your sound card. A sound card usually has three small "holes" that are usually color coded light blue, light green and/or light pink. If you look carefully you might see symbols next to each hole indicating a microphone and speakers. Most computers that are under 5 years old will have a sound card.

If you have speakers connected, purchase a computer microphone and connect it to the microphone jack on your sound card.

If you don't have speakers, or want to have better sound quality, purchase a computer headset with microphone and connect it to the appropriate jacks on your sound card.

Download free internet phone software from the VoIP provider of your choice. (VoIP stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol", which is the method for making phone calls over the internet).

Popular VoIP internet phone service providers are Skype, Gizmo, Net2Phone and WebPhone. It doesn't matter which one you use - the important thing is that everyone you talk with uses the same VoIP provider.

Install the software and register for a free account. Remember the user name you choose, as this is how the people you call will know you.

Start the software and follow the instructions to configure your equipment and make a free test call to make sure everything is set up correctly.

When your equipment and software is set up and the test call is fine, email your friends and family and ask them to do the same thing you did - get a headset or microphone and speakers, go to the VoIP provider's website to download and install the software, set up a free account and make a test call.

Share your VoIP internet phone service user name with everyone you want to make calls with. Everyone should enter each other's user names into the VoIP software's "contacts" list. This is how you will "dial" and connect with your international friends and family.

Email your friends and/or family and decide on a time to talk. Make sure both parties are online, and that everyone has their internet phone service software running.

Make your international call by clicking on the person's user name within your contact list and then clicking the "dial" icon within the program. You will hear a ringing sound on your side, and the other party will hear the ringing also. They may also see a message on their computer screen telling them that you are trying to call.

When the person you are calling clicks on the "answer" icon on his/her internet phone service software, you will be connected. You can then talk to each other over the internet for free.

When done talking, simply click the "hang up" icon on the VoIP software.

This type of VoIP internet phone service is called "softphone" because it requires a computer and software to make phone calls over the internet. Calls between users of the same VoIP service provider (i.e. Skype, Net2Phone, Gizmo, etc...) are always free, so it's easy to keep in touch with international friends and relatives. If desired, you can hook up an inexpensive webcam and make free international video phone calls too!