Updated April 21, 5:36 AM PDT to reflect the actual announcement by Skype.
Skype on Monday said it is now offering unlimited calls from the U.S. to phones in a wide range of international locations.
For $9.95 per month, callers will be able to ring folks abroad in 34 countries, including many in Europe, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Malaysia. (The details of the new flat-rate subscriptions were first published in an Associated Press story Sunday evening.) There is one limit--in most of those countries, the calls must be to a landline.
Calls to cell phones abroad are allowed under the $9.95 price only to Canada, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The plan also allows unlimited domestic calls in the U.S., via Skype's Internet-based phone service, to both landline phones and mobile phones.
In December 2006, Skype began offering unlimited calls to cell phones and landlines in the U.S. and Canada at $29.95 per year.
Skype, a unit of e-commerce giant eBay, expects to hit $500 million in revenue this year, and profits have been strong. Still, eBay is giving the service a hard look and may consider selling it, if the "synergies" don't work out favorably.
More details on the calling plans
The company's Monday morning announcement laid out three new subscription plans for consumers in the U.S. and Canada, as follows:
Unlimited U.S. and Canada: Unlimited calls to landline and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada. ($2.95 per month)
Unlimited Mexico: Unlimited calls to landline and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada, and to landlines in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey; up to 80 percent off normal SkypeOut rates to landlines in the rest of Mexico and up to 40 percent off normal SkypeOut rates to all Mexico cell phones. ($5.95 per month)
Unlimited World: Unlimited calls to landline and cell phones in 34 countries (see the cell-phone exception noted earlier in the story), including the U.S. and Canada, as well as to Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey; up to 80 percent off normal SkypeOut rates to the rest of Mexico landlines and up to 40 percent off normal SkypeOut rates to all Mexico cell phones. ($9.95 per month)
Skype notes that calls to premium, nongeographic, and other special numbers are excluded. The company continues to offer Skype-to-Skype calls free of charge.