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Silent Circle Makes Encrypted Calls to Landlines

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Credit: Silent CircleCredit: Silent Circle

You'll soon be able to make encrypted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls to landlines and mobile-phone numbers, thanks to a new feature from secure communications provider Silent Circle. Called "Out Circle Calling," the feature expands on the Silent Phone app and service that previously only allowed calls between Silent Phone subscribers.

Out Circle Calling starts at $12.95 USD for 100 minutes, and will be available in 79 countries, including the United States. The Silent Phone app itself is free to download on the iTunes and Google Play store.

MORE: 12 Mobile Privacy and Security Apps

In a call between a Silent Phone subscriber and a non-subscriber on a landline or mobile phone, the call is encrypted from the Silent Phone app through Silent Circle's servers. Once it reaches the mobile phone or landline, however, Silent Circle's encryption ends. 

This setup is still beneficial for people who only have to worry about snoops on one side of a conversation, Silent Circle explains. For example, a traveler in a foreign country could call home without worrying about their host country monitoring their calls, because the conversation would be encrypted on their end of the line, even if it's not encrypted at the home end of the conversation.

If, however, you want the home end of the conversation encrypted too, both parties would need to use Silent Phone instead of the landline or mobile service.

"With Out-Circle Calling, Silent Circle is directly challenging the legacy model of mobile carriers by offering an alternative to costly mobile roaming fees. This is an especially important issue for our enterprise and government customers around the world," Silent Circle's chief of revenue Vic Hyder said in a statement. "International fees and roaming charges account for a significant portion of European and Latin American business overhead. Our encrypted international calling service completely eliminates roaming charges while protecting members' privacy with the use of Silent Phone."

The ability to call non-Silent Phone subscribers puts Silent Circle in direct competition with VoIP services such as Skype and Viber, which already allow users to make calls from the service to landline and mobile numbers.

It also expands the functionality of the upcoming Blackphone, a privacy-oriented mobile phone co-created by Silent Circle and Spanish hardware makers Geeksphone. Blackphone, which is currently shipping pre-orders to its first customers, comes with subscriptions to Silent Circle's encrypted messaging and calling services.

Email jscharr@tomsguide.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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