By Max Clarke

Google has extended free voice calling to the United States to all members of the military, the tech giant has today announced.

And for those outside the forces, international voice calls via Google’s Gmail service cost from $0.02/ minute.

“We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices U.S. troops make when they serve abroad, and we’re proud to help make it a little bit easier for them to stay connected and hear a familiar voice,” wrote Ilya Frank, Senior Software Engineer in the Mountainview web giant’s latest blog.

Gmail originated as a side project by one engineer under the company’s 20 percent rule, in which staff are free to spend 20% of their time on their own side projects. recently the service has introduced a host of new features, and the free calling may be extended beyond its initial focus on aiding US troops.

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