Skype, the Internet calling subsidiary of eBay, is offering its first plan for unlimited international calls starting today. For $9.95 per month, the plan allows unlimited calls to landline phones in 34 countries, including include most of Europe, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.
Calls to US landline and cellphones are included as well, as are calls to cellphones in Canada, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, but not cellphones in other countries.
Skype has already been selling unlimited calls to the US and Canada for $3 a month. It is expanding that offering with another plan, for $5.95 per month, that gives free calls to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, and a discount on calls to other places in Mexico.
Skype is generally used as a software application running on a computer equipped with a microphone and speakers, or a headset. But subscribers will also have the option to call a local number from their phones and be connected to international numbers with their plan, paying a local access charge or using their cellphone airtime.
Unlimited international calling plans have appeared in recent years from hardware-based phone services like Vonage and cable companies, but the prices are generally higher, and the plans are add-ons to basic calling plans that cost even more.
Skype said its subscribers used phones for 1.7 billion minutes in the first three months of the year, compared with 14.2 billion minutes used in computer-to-computer sessions, which are free. (info from the Associated Press)