Last week Peer to Peer VoIP provider Skype announced it would be charging an annual fee for its “SkypeOut” program, allowing unlimited calls to any phone in the United States and Canada for a flat rate of $29.95. On network calls between Skype members will remain free, and users also have the option of paying by the minute for off network calls.
Owned by eBay, their original plan was to monetize the company through advertising revenue, but apparently with close to 12 million registered users they came up with a better idea. Not that the annual fee is going to break anyone, considering your total monthly telephone bill would be about $2.50. As an incentive for people to sign up, Skype is discounting the offer by half, $15.95 a year, if you sign up by January 31st.
Skype offers a VoIP soft phone, or software solution, that with a pair of earphones and a microphone can turn your computer into a telecommunications center. Throw in a web cam and you can make video calls in network all over the world for free.
It’s a good thing that these pure play VoIP providers should make some money. Although Skype says it’s not intended to replace your land line, for many, a computer and a cell phone are all they need to avoid the inflated costs of the traditional telecomm companies.
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