For $39.95, you buy a matchbox sized device that plugs in to a computer USB port, then connect any phone to the jack. The first year is free; then there is a $19.95 per year charge. And all you need is a broadband connection.
magicJack is from YMax Corporation, from the mind of Dr. Jack Borislow. How did Dr. Jack do this? See the shots of the internals. He developed a system on a chip, and magicJack uses over a million lines of code. Jack spent three years developing magicJack. Borislow is the founder of talk.com, and a veteran of the post Bell break up. YMax has 42 of its own gateways in major US cities, along with interconnection agreements.
True story: While I was talking to Jack, he looked at my name tag. "You’re the people who take stuff apart!" (He’s a big fan of Tom’s Hardware) "I will save you the trouble." He was really proud of the circuit engineering. He took apart one of the units, for the back and front pictures you see here.
Wait - it gets better! You may make calls to the US and Canada from anywhere in the world. magicJack is shipping now and can be ordered online at www.magicjack.com.
Of course, I do wonder if Dr. Jack’s business model can stand the test of time and the rigors of the phone service market.