Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Skype's Free Phone Call Plan Will Soon Have Annual Fee 171

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the all-good-things-must-end dept.
The New York Times is reporting that Skype has said it would begin charging $30 a year for unlimited calls to landline and mobile phones within the United States and Canada. From the article: "As a promotion, Skype began allowing its users to place free domestic 'SkypeOut' calls from their computers to traditional and mobile phones last May. At the time, the company said the promotion would extend only through year's end. The company is offering a half-price subscription to those who sign up before Jan. 31. Calls from one computer to another have been and will continue to be free."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Skype's Free Phone Call Plan Will Soon Have Annual Fee

Comments Filter:
  • Classic Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _merlin (160982) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:32PM (#17229864) Homepage Journal
    This is straight from the textbook: give them a free taste of something for long enough to realise they like it, then introduce a "reasonable" fee. Most of them will feel like they can't live without it and accept the fee rather than go without.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lintux (125434)
      True, or maybe people just like it so much that it became too expensive to run the service for free. They probably do have to pay themselves to connect those calls. If people use it a lot it's probably worth the 2.5 dollars a month. For people who don't use it that much, it's too bad.
      • Gak! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msimm (580077) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:08PM (#17230332) Homepage
        I thought *I* had the bad memory problems!

        It was never intended to be a free service [slashdot.org], just a splashy promotion. I don't think VOIP to POTS is going to be free (they do have to have call centers somewhere to connect those calls, right).

        Anyway, no free rides. :) @ $30 its a good deal for people who would use it, those that don't can either use something like SIP (although a SIP to POTS service is going to....cost!) or stick with their free cell minutes.
        • It's kind of hard to use my free minutes when I can't find my phone. Hmmm, I wonder if $30 a year is worth it to help me find my phone once a month (that's about all I used Skype for anyway.)
          • by msimm (580077)
            Friends are probably cheaper (you use a string-can system like the rest of us, right?). ;)
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:00PM (#17230210)
      Once they start charging they come under a new set of laws that makes them a regulated telecom. when they were not charging it was arguable they were not under the regulation jurisdiction of the US justice dept or FCC. Thus by giving it away for free they built up a lot of anti-establishement street cred. That's a nice bit of viral marketing buzz.

      Now they will have to include backdoors for phone line tapping under US laws if they operate inside the USA. Sure they may be based outside the US and have global customers. Think that makes a whoot of difference to the Justice department? Might as well say the same for cocaine dealers: they may operate in the US but their corporate headquarters is in Medelin Columbia.

      Any how, welcome to the Machine, skype.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:21PM (#17230442)
        Once they start charging they come under a new set of laws that makes them a regulated telecom. when they were not charging it was arguable they were not under the regulation jurisdiction of the US justice dept or FCC.

        Umm, did you know that Skype was always charging for incoming calls from the phone system? They were always regulated.

        Thus by giving it away for free they built up a lot of anti-establishement street cred.

        Maybe, but I think it had a lot to do with raising the profile of voip as a viable alternative to landline & cell phones, and causing a lot of damage to their biggest competitor, Vonage.

        Now they will have to include backdoors for phone line tapping under US laws if they operate inside the USA. Sure they may be based outside the US and have global customers. Think that makes a whoot of difference to the Justice department?

        The US gov't doesn't care where your head office is, you're doing business in the US, you fall under US law, the same as any other country.

        Might as well say the same for cocaine dealers: they may operate in the US but their corporate headquarters is in Medelin Columbia.

        WTF? Possession, importation & sale of ocaine is illegal in just about every country in the world. That has no relevance to telecom.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Harin_Teb (1005123)
        Thank God for jurisdictional issues.

        If they opperate out of the US then the US won't have jurisdiction over them, so even if they do find them liable for violating fcc rules or soemthing along those lines, they can just thumb their noses at it.

        Radio station near me does that. FCC wouldn't grant them enough boradcasting power to cover the area they wanted to cover, so they said screw it relocate across the river to windsor and broadcast at it anyway. Damned good station too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eil (82413)

          Damned good station too.

          If you're talking about CIMX (A.K.A. 89X), um no. Kudos to them for sticking it to the FCC, but the content is just more Clear Channel garbage crapping up the airwaves. Also, they're taking advantage of broadcasting out of a part of the spectrum that's normally reserved for non-profit and public stations in the US. Their obligation to the Canadian government? A couple hours of Canadian talk radio on weekend mornings long before anyone's out of bed. Once 6:50AM hits, 100% of their con
      • by schwaang (667808) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @07:33PM (#17231108)
        Now they will have to include backdoors for phone line tapping under US laws if they operate inside the USA. Sure they may be based outside the US and have global customers. Think that makes a whoot of difference to the Justice department?

        One way or another they will end up complying with CALEA, that is, if they aren't already [arstechnica.com].

        After all, why should Skype stand up for your privacy when you won't?
      • Once they start charging they come under a new set of laws that makes them a regulated telecom.

        They charged for quite a while before running the temporary free promo.

      • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @10:30PM (#17232464) Homepage
        It's not just the Justice Department. I'd like to introduce you to something called Article III [wikipedia.org] of the US Constitution. And Long Arm [wikipedia.org] Statutes. They give the US and state governments personal jurisdiction over foreign entities who conduct business within the many states, among other things. If you avail yourself of the privileges and protections of American courts (which Skype is doing by practicing continuous and systematic business here), then they have an obligation to obey our laws in this country.

        Of course it is right that they have jurisdiction over Skype within the US. After all, how do you think US citizens are protected from foreign corporations' illegal activities within the nation?

        Don't be fooled for one minute, either, that this is just some American abomination. Other countries have these kinds of laws, too. I don't know the relevant laws in other countries, but personal jurisdiction like this definitely exists in the UK, Australia and Canada, because personal jurisdiction is at a minimum a common law concept.

        Of course, I do not like VoIP being meddled with by government, either. Just please don't try to make the Justice Department a bad guy here.
      • by roman_mir (125474)
        Thus by giving it away for free they built up a lot of anti-establishement street cred. - the only problem with this kind of credit is that you can't use it to pay the rent and buy food.
    • Erm...I guess (Score:3, Interesting)

      by msimm (580077)
      Skype out started as a pay service the (with much aplomb) they announced they'd make it free for calls through the end of the year. Honestly, I'd consider this pretty generous. Kind of a win-win for people who were interested in using it (or computer people who were savvy and interested in free calls).

      I used the service prior to their promotion. It was cheap and worked as advertised (you might remember, since they had/have a Linux client they made ./). I'm not 100% sure, but as I recall their price was ch
      • by epiphani (254981)
        I was using it before the promotion as well, and have 10 Euros of credit sitting on my account because I thought I had ran out. I didn't realize there even was a promotion until I went to find out why all my calls weren't being charged.

        Their rate prior to the promotion was $0.02 a minute. I used it to talk to anyone outside my local cell phone coverage, and continue to do so. I currently spend probably 6-8 hours a week using Skype to talk to my girlfriend, and have saved probably hundreds of dollars on l
        • by nachoboy (107025) *
          it will be cheaper than the prepay at $0.02 cents a minute I was paying previously

          I take it you work for Verizon?
    • by syousef (465911)
      This is straight from the textbook: give them a free taste of something for long enough to realise they like it, then introduce a "reasonable" fee. Most of them will feel like they can't live without it and accept the fee rather than go without.

      Who's textbook would that be? The Mafia drug dealer's text book?

      Companies do this all the time but the price isn't always so reasonable. Look at GMax being pulled....it was free. The replacement? 3dsMax at about USD4500 thank you very much. At least Skype hasn't as y
      • by devilspgd (652955) *
        Unethical to advertise up front that you're giving a limited time free promotion before launching a paid service? Wow...
        • by syousef (465911)
          The only saving grace is that they said so upfront. However yes running a long standing "promotion" with the sole purpose of getting people hooked on something and planning to hit them up big time when they are hooked and can't live without it is very much unethical and is how drug dealers operate.
          • by devilspgd (652955) *
            Were it chemically addictive, I might agree. Since all it's doing is saving a little long distance charges, I'm not quite seeing the analogy.
      • by drsquare (530038)
        You're saying that if you offer anything for free, you should be legally obligated to provide it for free perpetually?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yeah, making money is so wrong.
    • by jez9999 (618189)
      What about calls to 1-800 numbers? This has been most useful to me (my hosting provider doesn't offer live web chat but does have a 1-800 number). I can call this for free from Skype, but on my phone it costs me because it's an international call.
  • FTFA:

    But potentially more significant innovations are planned for next year, when Skype will introduce services with Yahoo and Google that will allow Web surfers to click a button and call a business they have found during a search.

    Mr. Albert said the concept, known as "click to call," was an important example of combining eBay's expertise in online sales with Skype's capacity to allow people to make inexpensive calls.

    Industry analysts have mixed opinions about how successful such a program can be and wheth
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:48PM (#17230070) Homepage
      Mr. Albert said the concept, known as "click to call," was an important example of combining eBay's expertise in online sales with Skype's capacity to allow people to make inexpensive calls.

      Wow. It takes a real goddamn genius to come up with an idea like that. They're lucky they have eBay's expertise to draw on, because I just can't imagine a mere mortal coming up with an idea like that.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Here are a few more that I have been working on:

        Click-to-change-channels
        Click-to-order-sofas
        Click-to-hangup
        Click-to-start-microwave

        patents pending of course
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by nine-times (778537)
          I had some great ideas too, including "Click-to-select-link" and "Click-to-make-clicky-sound" technology.
    • by spisska (796395)
      "Click to call" is no innovation -- all it does is move the call from a telephone to a PC, which is not much of a step forward as far as most people are concerned. It will still mean dealing with telephone menus and sitting around on hold until someone gets around to picking up on the other end.

      What I'd rather see is something like "Click to get a call back" after putting all the appropriate data into a web form (i.e. English language, existing customer, reason for call e.g. service change etc). Basically i
  • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:34PM (#17229880)
    You've got a deal. Free would be nice, but not bad considering I can call anywhere anytime for that much...
  • Why Skype ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by D3m0n0fTh3Fall (1022795) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:35PM (#17229900)
    Could anyone explain to me why Skype is so popular ? Is it simply a case of they marketed the best and had the easiest to use software ? They certainly aren't any good when it comes to following standards (SIP). Their voice quality is certainly much worse than a good SIP connection, or MSN, or Ventrilo and it's probably even worse than Teamspeak. There's amazingly high latency in most Skype calls I've ever tried. So tell me, why is it so damn popular ?
    • by lintux (125434)
      One nice thing in Skype is that it even works on Windows 98. You don't want to know how many people still use that piece of history. Do you know of any other VoIP program that is still Win98-compatible?
    • by giorgiofr (887762)
      For the same reason people started to love web forums when usenet had existed for years and was better - they don't buy what's best, but what is marketed.
      • by McFadden (809368)

        For the same reason people started to love web forums when usenet had existed for years and was better - they don't buy what's best, but what is marketed.

        Sorry, but I think you're way off the mark on that one. People started to prefer web forums for any number of reasons - you're not comparing like for like. The fact that usenet was better is your subjective opinion (and you're probably someone who had already been using it for years when the web first came on the scene) and has no reflection on what th

      • It runs on almost all OS's, the encryption is good, it supports a good chat client, it doesn't clutter your disk or your desktop or your toolbar with "features" that no one wants, it's easy to install, it's easy to uninstall, and in my expereince the voice client is quite acceptable in its quality, even for international calls. It's certaiinly safer to use than jabber, zephyr, and many other pitifully insecure open source tools, and much friendlier and more available than MSN's or AOL's tools.

        It didn't take
    • Because it more or less "just works"? Especially in the presence of firewalls and NAT configurations? And it works well on Mac OS X, Windows and Linux (as opposed to other VoIP software). I've used Skype in the past and the quality isn't that great (although most of the time it's better than POTS). But it's good enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Morgon (27979)
      I think part of it is the marketing aspect. People started hyping it to others, who hyped it to others, etc.
      But also, it's an ease-of-use aspect, too.

      Its most popular aspect (or at least, what made it the most generally popular over the course of this year) is the no-BS landline (and cellphone, which will be grouped with 'landline' for this post) calling.
      There was this other service hyped either here or Engadget (or both?) that was supposed to be some Skype-killer, but it wasn't as free as they said it was
      • Re:Why Skype ? (Score:4, Informative)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:00PM (#17230220) Homepage

        There was this other service hyped either here or Engadget (or both?) that was supposed to be some Skype-killer, but it wasn't as free as they said it was (I don't think it was money, but you had to do *something* to get the free calling).

        Maybe you're thinking of Gizmo [gizmoproject.com]? It advertises itself as free, but it's only free between Gizmo users. So, you can call a landline for free if another Gizmo user has that number listed as his landline in his profile, or something to that effect. And they also say that if you use to too much, they'll start charging you for it, but they never say what "too much" use would be.

        I tried it out a while back, when it was being hyped. It was fine, but wasn't terribly useful for me (personally) for the same reason other VOIP stuff isn't that helpful for me: I have a cell phone, and I'm pretty much never in a situation when I have internet access but no cell-phone reception. If I wanted useful wireless internet access, I'd have to go through a cell phone company anyway.

    • I could be wrong, but I think Skype does a much better job than most SIP software at getting around firewall and NAT issues. It is really plug and play. No download this software, sign up for a SIP number with this service, and configure your software. Just download a client which works just like the IM client you are used to and go.

    • Re:Why Skype ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigor (540274) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:02PM (#17230266)
      1. Dead easy setup.

      2. No NAT issues (SIP is retarded with NAT - check out how SDP works).

      3. Encryption is built-in and automatic.

      4. Same client, multiple platforms thanks to Qt.

      5. Voice quality is related to codec, not call setup protocol, which is what SIP is, so your voice quality comment is senseless.

      6. Seamless integration with landlines.

      7. Lots of features (video, chat, etc., all encrypted).

      8. SIP is not consistent across vendors, with many proprietary extensions. ...the list goes on. They just did it right, and it works for everyone. SIP is mostly a joke.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        4. Same client, multiple platforms thanks to Qt.

        They use different clients on different platforms. The Windows version is written in Delphi.
        Linux and Mac version are way behind on version numbers.
        • by abigor (540274)
          Yeah, I use the Linux one a lot, and I know it's way behind. I still thought the basic gui was Qt on all platforms, and the problems were all on the back end. Thanks for the info.
      • Re:Why Skype ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spooon69 (758526) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @07:00PM (#17230830)
        I'm certainly not a SIP guru, but going to try and respond some of your points that have me honestly confused.

        2. No NAT issues (SIP is retarded with NAT - check out how SDP works).
        SIP works with STUN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STUN [wikipedia.org]) servers, so you shouldn't really be getting NAT issues. Of course, I'd say that Skype has more NAT issues since it's P2P and would probably work better with an open incoming port. SIP just connects to a server and doesn't require open incoming ports (unless you have your own PBX server at home, which is pretty advanced for the regular SIP user).

        What's SDP?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockets_Direct_Protoc ol [wikipedia.org] or
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_Description_P rotocol [wikipedia.org] or
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_discovery [wikipedia.org]

        4. Same client, multiple platforms thanks to Qt.
        Isn't it better to have many many more clients across every platform than to be stuck with only 1 on every platform? Plus have many more hardware choices as well (if you want to connect your home phone to VoIP)?

        5. Voice quality is related to codec, not call setup protocol, which is what SIP is, so your voice quality comment is senseless.
        How is SIP's voice quality not related to the chosen codec? And why would a setup protocol dictate voice quality in SIP? I honestly don't understand. Kind of like saying that since I'm driving on the right side of the road my car is faster, when it's engine (codec) that really matters most.

        6. Seamless integration with landlines.
        How is SIP's integration not "seamless"? Open up your client, dial a phone number and voila, their landline rings. I would say it's better than Skype's actually. You can actually get a real phone number in Japan (for example) that will ring your SIP phone/PC in the US. Skype has this for around 15 countries, but SIP has DID (real landline numbers) numbers for many more countries (if not all). Plus SIP vendors have number portability as well.

        8. SIP is not consistent across vendors, with many proprietary extensions. ...the list goes on. They just did it right, and it works for everyone. SIP is mostly a joke.
        Most vendors that use SIP can communicate with each other. Some vendors block outside SIP calls (e.g. Vonage) while others use their own proprietary SIP (e.g. Comcast Digital Voice), but they block outside connections too. So it doesn't really matter if they're proprietary or not, a SIP client can't access their network anyway unless they go the landline route.

        I've got nothing against Skype (I've used it tons), I just like SIP better because of its better call rates (you can always get a vendor cheaper than Skype), number of choices available (SIP hardware, software, vendors), plus the fact that if you want, you can get down to the nitty gritty and do some amazing stuff with it (want to get sms notifications of voicemail? access 10 different vendors with different rates with just a press of a button on your phone? setup smart call forwarding, if you're not at office, try home, then cell? Check voicemail on the web/email?).

        Plus Skype is P2P, which is good for some things, but can use a lot of bandwidth when not in use, that's why some college campuses and businesses don't allow Skype.

        • by gordyf (23004)
          5. Voice quality is related to codec, not call setup protocol, which is what SIP is, so your voice quality comment is senseless.

          How is SIP's voice quality not related to the chosen codec? And why would a setup protocol dictate voice quality in SIP? I honestly don't understand.


          I think you're both saying the same thing here -- since SIP is a call setup protocol and not a codec, it doesn't make sense to talk about SIP's voice quality.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by raju1kabir (251972)

            I think you're both saying the same thing here -- since SIP is a call setup protocol and not a codec, it doesn't make sense to talk about SIP's voice quality.

            I'll put it this way, then: With Skype, you are stuck using their codec, which pretty much always produces horrible results on calls to anywhere but the richest and most developed countries - particularly to cell phones. With SIP, at least you have the option to shop around and find someone who is capable of landing calls at your destination with dece

        • by sholden (12227)
          What's SDP

          Ya think it might the only one of the options you listed which actually mentions SIP. You know the one that is is mentioned about 17 million times in the SIP RFC.
        • by pimpimpim (811140)
          4. Same client, multiple platforms thanks to Qt. Isn't it better to have many many more clients across every platform than to be stuck with only 1 on every platform? Plus have many more hardware choices as well (if you want to connect your home phone to VoIP)?

          Actually, no. I'm as anti-monopolist as all of you here, but for your sister and your grandparents, it just works like this: You go to skype.com and install the program. You don't have to ask first what kind of computer they have, if they have a cert

      • 9. They combat credit card fraud by making it impossible [skype.com] to actually purchase minutes. Once you sign up for Skype and put a credit card on it - THAT credit card is the ONLY one you can use - EVER. First rule of business: repeat business.
      • Wouldn't all those problems be resolved by a linux commitee meeting? VOIP seems like something the IEEE should have handled a LONG LONG time ago.

        Another point, I'd love to hate Skype (They are the Kazaa Guys right? We've seen this shit before...) however I think most of it comes from getting pressure inside the U.S. first from the telecoms who've had massive profit margins for the last few decades (as they promised us better and cheaper service infrastructure the government allowed this) and second from t
        • by Burz (138833)
          There is already a superior VOIP standard in wide use: IAX2. This is the protocol used between Asterisk routers, and is also supported directly by a growing number of phones (and providers like VOIPJet). It does NAT traversal and generally just works.
          • by abigor (540274)
            Bingo! Too bad uptake hasn't been more widespread. But you are correct. Freshtel's softphone uses it, and it works well (they are a Skype competitor).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gad_zuki! (70830)
        >No NAT issues (SIP is retarded with NAT - check out how SDP works).

        The real way to solve NAT issues is through centralization or upnp. If your computer pokes a hole through the firewall for skype theres a chance your computer will now be skypes 'super-node.' Phone calls for other people will be routed through you, using up your bandwidth. Instead of skype centralizing the process and routing them through some central authority or implementing unpnp, they are simply using users as phone p2p. Which is
        • The real way to solve NAT issues is through centralization or upnp.

          I'd counter that the real way to solve NAT issues is to throw NAT away and use IPv6. NAT is a horrible kludge that's increasingly causing more and more problems as p2p apps become more popular - the sooner people realise this the better.
      • by Pastis (145655)
        1- I use a Sipura adapter with SIP and am pretty happy.
        2- Skype cleans out your balance if you don't touch it in a few months. I call that stealing.
        • by abigor (540274)
          My mom doesn't know what a Sipura adapter is. She downloaded Skype, clicked a few times, and can now call me for free on my cell or my softphone.

          I've never had problems with Skype cleaning out my balance. Surely they would go out of business if this was a real problem. I've had an account with them for years.
      • 1. Dead easy setup.

        Not sure what's hard about SIP - put in your authentication details and registration server address and that's about it - not really any harder than configuring an email client. The only real comment I've heard is that people have to make a choice about what PSTN breakout provider to use (oh, the hardship of shopping around for a good deal instead of just being forced to use a single service provider).

        2. No NAT issues (SIP is retarded with NAT - check out how SDP works).

        I don't think SDP
        • by abigor (540274)
          Trust me, I am with you when it comes to the open stuff. I worked with SIP for years, and have written lots of voip code. I've contributed to the SIP stack in Asterisk, etc. etc. But there are real problems with it.

          Aside from all that, Skype has solved the business problem. This was the hard part. Technology is easy.

          Skype's uptake proves they are not a joke. You would be amazed at its penetration into the world of small business. People say "Skype me tomorrow at 11:00 am" in the same way they say "I'll Goog
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by helioquake (841463)
      Here is my reasoning: my parents love it.

      I have no landline at home (been that way for more than 3 years now) and was using my cell phone with international calling cards to make phone calls oversea. But the connection generally was terrible in sound quality and there were intermittent signaling problems, too. On top of that, my mom has some hearing problem so that the sound quality was very important to us.

      Now with skype, it's fairly easy for me to boost the signal from my laptop while making a phone call.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Their voice quality is certainly much worse than a good SIP connection, or MSN, or Ventrilo and it's probably even worse than Teamspeak.

      Ok, I can't speak to SIP, but Spyke's voice quality worse then Ventrilo or MSN? Have you actually *used* Skype? It has much better voice quality, and lower latency, then Ventrilo by far. Plus it's cross-platform, it's easy-to-use, it includes landline calls, it includes instant messenging, it doesn't freak out if I keep it running longer than a few hours (like Ventrilo clie
    • None of those services you mewntioned allow me to call any PTSN phone, routed over the internet, FOR FREE.

      You're basically getting for free (plus the small initial cost of a USB PTSN adapter for your PC ) a service that Vonage charges $20 a month for. Sure, Vonage also gives you an inbound number - but guess what - you can get that from SkypeIn fro $30 mor per year.

      So for $60 / year you have unlimited phone service. How much is your local telco charging you PER MONTH now?

      Sotarting next year the service won
    • by alienw (585907)
      I don't know what you're smoking, but SIP is a shitty abortion of a protocol. It is overly complex, has crappy firewall/NAT support, is extremely unreliable, and is complicated to use (yeah, try telling someone your phone number is sip://203.48.24.50/284). I have not seen a single decent softphone or an adapter box that wasn't a piece of shit. Just look at all the problems people have with Vonage, and keep in mind that all of the hardware/software is under their control.

      Skype, has much better sound qual
  • by GweeDo (127172) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:52PM (#17230118) Homepage
    The SkypeOut page [skype.com] says it will only be $14.99. I always recommend taking the word from the good old horses mouth.
  • by tulsaoc3guy (755854) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:54PM (#17230150)
    Early on, it was a hallmark of Google to hold off on charging for their web services. When others were prominently charging and hawking, they resisted... the philosophy paid off for Google, looks like. The situation for voice calls, however, may be totally different.
  • Then it jumps to $30.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone who has ever used Ekiga will never use Skype again. Ekiga is a VoIP client with video and IM capability, phone book, etc. and it has excellent sound quality. You can get the software here: http://ekiga.org/ [ekiga.org] and if you don't have a VoIP address yet you can get one here: http://ekiga.net/ [ekiga.net] or here: http://www.freeworlddialup.com/ [freeworlddialup.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by abigor (540274)
      Uses SIP, so it's not workable for many people.

      Can't call landlines, or have landlines call you. Personally, I use Skype to call landlines more than I call other Skype clients.

      For the professional user, Ekiga is a non-starter.
  • by cos(x) (677938) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:37PM (#17230626)
    Betamax have been offering free VoIP calls to something like 30 countries for years now and do not appear to be stopping any time soon. The also give you a free inbound POTS number (with Skype, you'd have to pay a yearly fee for SkypeIn) and since they use SIP technology, you can connect from a free software phone or even a hardware SIP device. I replaced my landline phone with a SIP phone 3 months ago and have never looked back.

    There are some quirks with Betamax though:
    • They operate VoIP services under a dozen or so brand names and each brand has different rates. For an up-to-date comparison, see: http://backsla.sh/betamax [backsla.sh]
    • They keep changing rates and the list of free countries, but the core countries tend to remain the same.
    • To get free VoIP calls, you must top up 10 euros (+GST) every three or four months (depending on which of their brands you are using). Free calls are free calls - those 10 euros you can use for calling other, non-free, destinations. Also, credit does not expire so you can keep topping up until you finally have a use for all that credit (or the company folds ;).
    • There is a limit on the amount of free calls - 300 minutes in a floating 7 day window, though they do not seem to be very exact about this. Sometimes, they screw up and charge for a supposedly free call (at a still impressive 1 cent a minute). But far more often than that, I end up calling for way over 300 minutes per week and still get charged nothing.
    • They also offer a call-back service where you type in your phone number and the one you want to call. Both phones then ring and a connection is established between them. If both phones would have normally been free to call, this type of call is free as well. There is only a 5 cent or so set-up charge. A minor annoyance is that this gets charged even if the line on the other side is busy or nobody picks up.

      This service is actually really handy at work, where SIP may not work due to firewall restrictions. You can still call out by having your office phone be called back.
    • Finally, all calls get disconnected after one hour. My guess would be this is because with each free call you make, they are actually losing some money and they do not want to keep paying when people forget to properly hang up their phones...
    All in all, I am topping up 10 euros (+GST) every few months, am calling family all over the world for free and get much better rates for mobiles and exotic destinations than I have ever seen from any other provider. I wouldn't know why I would ever consider SkypeIn + SkypeOut.
    • To get free VoIP calls, you must top up 10 euros (+GST) every three or four months (depending on which of their brands you are using).
      Well, then I guess that makes it more expensive than the 30 dollars I'll have to pay Skype to call people in the US and Canada. Or the 15 dollars I'll have to pay if I sign up before January 31.

      Of course, for people in other countries, this may be a good deal. For those of us who use Skype to call family in the US, it is not.
  • by Micah (278) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @10:58PM (#17232626) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about everyone else, but I've found that Skype's "free" calls from the US to other US phones to be horrible.

    I've used Skype for almost two years now, and call quality to landlines has generally been good, at least acceptable. When I was in the States last June (I live in Ecuador), I made some free calls to my parents' landline and cell phone from a 3mb DSL connection. It sucked rocks! We could barely understand each other. Calling the very same number from the jungle of Ecuador over a 128kb DSL connection and paying Skype's 2.2 cents a minute, the connection was fine.

    Also calling 1-800 numbers with Skype from Ecuador, which does not cost anything, sometimes renders horrible quality (and sometimes it is OK).

    In any case, I think their "promotion" was a horrible idea. I would have gladly payed the 2.2 cents a minute from the States to get as good a connection as I do in Ecuador. I wonder how many people think badly of their service because of that.
  • "Oh, sure! First you get us hooked and then you jack up the price!"
  • One correct headline is: "Skype's free phone call plan will soon be ending".
  • by Junior Samples (550792) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:31AM (#17236002)

    I use both SIP and Skype, but overall I feel that SIP is a better solution.

    Skype to Skype calls work very well, but the quality of Skype to PTSN us less than acceptable. Even though 'Skype Out' is presently free, I've usually had to pick up a real phone to complete my call because of excessive latency, dropouts, and overall poor frequency response. It's definitely worse than a bad cell phone connection - not a service that I would ever consider paying for. The other problem with Skype is that there are no low cost stand alone network adapters as there are with SIP. A computer or an expensive Skype phone is required to complete the call. Furthermore, bandwidth on your computer and network can be used to process calls for other Skype users even though you are not making a call, as long as the application is running.

    I also use SIP with Free World Dialup service and Direct IP dialing. My Sipura SIP adapter has 2 connections. An ethernet cable to my router provides the network connection and a regular telephone plugs into the adapter. The system runs stand alone 24/7 without a computer. Everything works like a normal phone. NAT is minor an annoyance, but not a serious problem. I supply my real IP address to the SIP adapter and the problem is solved. I've never needed to use a STUN server. Overall, the quality has been as good or better than PTSN.

  • With the Internet Call Wizard, Skype is my home phone. It costs me $4/mo + $0.02/min, and I can't tell the difference between that and my old regular phone service, except with Skype I don't get surprised by random charges for calls I thought "fit the mold" of my calling plan, or crazy taxes, and I have to dial 011 + area code even for local calls, which my wife and I have both gotten used to. Of course last year I didn't even pay the $0.02/min because of the promotion, and with the amount my wife uses th
  • Good deal this will kill it off, at least on my network....could not be happier unless of course they raised
    it to say $100 for all calls.
  • Is it just me, or am I the only person who has trouble with touchtones on SkypeOut? I've called my cellphone, hit a number on my computer, and not heard anything go through to the cell phone.

Hackers of the world, unite!

Working...