Skype's free ride is over

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Tom Keating
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Skype's free ride is over

According to Skype today announced that it is offering U.S. and Canadian consumers the new Skype Unlimited Calling plan, a paid annual subscription service that allows registered users to make 12 months of unlimited SkypeOut calls to any phone within the U.S. and Canada. This is the first time that Skype is making an annual subscription calling plan available.

The Skype Unlimited Calling plan is available for a flat rate of $29.95 per year. People who sign up for the new plan before January 31, 2007 will receive a special discounted introductory rate of $14.95 per year - 50 percent off the regular price. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Wrong!

The new pricing plan follows Skype's free SkypeOut promotion in which calls within the US and Canada are free until December 31, 2006. Thus, Skype users that got used to free SkypeOut calls to U.S. and Canadian numbers will be in for a bit of a surprise come January 1st. Ok, maybe not "surprised" since this was a limited promotion, but still perhaps a bit disappointed.

Also, customers who purchase the new Skype Unlimited Calling plan before January 31, 2007 will get a discounted pricing of $14.95, as well as a bonus offer of 100 minutes of SkypeOut credit for making international calls and over $50 in discount coupons for purchasing Skype-certified hardware products.

Does Skype's move from "free" U.S./Canada calling open the door for a competitor to offer free calling and take some of Skype's market share? Certainly companies like Jajah, Raketu, and others already offer free calling. What do you think?

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