Monday, May 15, 2006

Skype Makes Outbound Calling Free

Skype today turned the Internet telephony industry on its head by introducing free calling to traditional landline and mobile phones in the United States and Canada through its SkypeOut feature. The move comes just days after Microsoft introduced Windows Live Messenger beta with its calling service.

SkypeOut previously charged users per-minute fees for making calls to non-PC users -- a business model being adopted by a number of rivals, including Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft. Now, Skype users can call both fellow Skype users and standard phone numbers without being charged until at least December 31, 2006.

"Yes. It is really very, very free. There’s no prepayment, no minimum use, no subscription, no monthly fee, no nothing," Skype wrote on its Web site. "That is, until December 31, 2006. We’re not quite sure yet what we will do after that. Maybe we extend the free period, maybe not."

International calls will still be charged the standard SkypeOut rates, the company said, which it claims are the lowest in the industry. Skype is hoping the free service will help solidify its position its the market amidst growing competition from the major instant messaging providers and VOIP companies like Vonage.

“Millions of consumers around the world are flocking to Skype every month, and we believe free SkypeOut calling will rapidly accelerate Skype adoption in the US and Canada,” said Henry Gomez, General Manager of Skype North America.

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