May 15, 2006 10:55 AM PDT

Skype offers free calling to phones in U.S., Canada

Skype users can now make free SkypeOut calls to traditional landline and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada until the end of the year, the company announced Monday.

Skype, which offers software that allows people to talk over an Internet connection using their PCs, is trying to get more people in North America to use its SkypeOut service, which typically charges people to make calls to a traditional or mobile phone. Skype calls made between PCs are free.

Skype, owned by online auctioneer eBay, doesn't break out the number of people using its premium services such as SkypeOut. But as of the end of April, it claimed to have more than 100 million registered users, nearly double the number of registered users it had in September 2005. About 6 million of those consumers are in the U.S., said a company spokeswoman. By comparison, China has 13 million registered users and Germany has 5 million.

"Millions of consumers around the world are flocking to Skype every month," Henry Gomez, general manager for Skype in North America, said in a statement. "And we believe free SkypeOut calling will rapidly accelerate Skype adoption in the U.S. and Canada."

While Skype executives are hoping to drum up more business with this promotion, SkypeOut calling is free only until the end of 2006. What's more, calls made to and within all countries other than the U.S. and Canada will continue to incur charges at current rates.

The free SkypeOut promotion comes at a time when competitors such as Yahoo and AOL are integrating more call features into their instant-messaging clients. Starting Tuesday, AOL instant-messaging users will be able to use AIM Phoneline, a new service that allows people to make calls from their IM client to regular phones. AOL's service lets subscribers get free incoming calls from regular phones. But it charges a monthly fee to make calls to regular phones or cell phones.

While the SkypeOut service will allow free calling to regular phones, the company will continue to charge people to get calls using a service it calls SkypeIn, which costs about $38 for an unlimited 12-month subscription. Consumers can get the service for three months for about $12.80.

Skype is also trying to attract new users by enhancing its services. Last week, it released a new test version of its software that adds more features and functionality to the service.

For example, it's adding a feature called Skypecasts, which are live, moderated discussions that allow groups of Skype users to discuss shared interests. The company also added SMS (Short Message Service), integration with Outlook e-mail contact lists, and shared contact lists.

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12 comments

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Great Idea!
Wow, I've just tried it out. I've made a long distance call for free! This is amazing. I'm going to use this at every opportunity, hah, they got me.

One thing that sort of worries me... Most great free things get abused, I just hope it doesn't happen with this...

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Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pre-Emptive Strike On Yahoo, MSN, Google
The Big Three are all tinkering with paid VOIP offerings so this will cause them a major headache. How will Yahoo be able to charge $0.02 a minute domestic when Skype is free and their call quality is better to boot? I just used Skype today to talk to a relative out-of-state for 90 minutes for free. I already have a paid Skype account, and my account balance remained unchanged after I hung up the call.

Skype's new free plan gets really interesting when hardware and software vendors begin to leverage the Skype API to create new vertical apps. They will be able to offer value-add computer-phone services with $0 communications cost for the next 6 months.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Just Yahoo or Google - Tmobile, Sprint, ETC
This is fantastic - I already spend most of my waking hours within arms reach of some computer, either my personal laptop or desktop at work (in front of which sits my laptop anyway). I make most of my cell phone calls within that reach of my computers. It would be a grand experiment to see what the cost savings are to switch to a pay as you go plan and use Skype as my main phone. I'm lucky to have broadband access just about everywhere I go. .
Posted by zboot (168 comments )
Link Flag
Not really free!
In order to actually use the free offer, you have to first spend 10
Euros, it seems from their website to first enable SkypeOut... :(
Posted by libertyforall1776 (650 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not True
It is free. Just sign-up for a free Skype account and install the software. Log in to the Skype client and go to the Dial tab and punch in your phone number: +1 area code phone num. Yes, you will see a "Skypeout is not active" message in the Dial tab, just ignore it.
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
Link Flag
it's free.. for the us and canada
It's free only in the US and Canada until the end of the year. I don't think it's free in the UK. Sorry :(

off the website
[quote]
Free calling within the US and Canada.
But remember, you can make free calls within the US and Canada to both landlines and mobile phones until the end of the year. Its really easy; there are no contract fees, no line rentals. All you need is Skype and a phone number you want to call.
[/quote]
Posted by sirkism (4 comments )
Link Flag
it's free.. for the us and canada
It's free only in the US and Canada until the end of the year. I don't think it's free in the UK. Sorry :(

off the website
[quote]
Free calling within the US and Canada.
But remember, you can make free calls within the US and Canada to both landlines and mobile phones until the end of the year. Its really easy; there are no contract fees, no line rentals. All you need is Skype and a phone number you want to call.
[/quote]
Posted by sirkism (4 comments )
Link Flag
it's free.. for the us and canada
It's free only in the US and Canada until the end of the year. I don't think it's free in the UK. Sorry :(

off the website
[quote]
Free calling within the US and Canada.
But remember, you can make free calls within the US and Canada to both landlines and mobile phones until the end of the year. Its really easy; there are no contract fees, no line rentals. All you need is Skype and a phone number you want to call.
[/quote]
Posted by sirkism (4 comments )
Link Flag
Poor sound quality forced Skype to offer the service for free
As a regular user of Skype, I found that the sound quality in Canada and the US is mediocre at times, with 50% chance of getting a 'good connection' to a regular phone line. This is limited to North America, as all my calls to Europe and Asia have exemplary sound. This probably forced skype to offer the service for free at least for a while while the negociate with the Phone Companies for better service.
Posted by mfrimu (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dialing number
I have problem dialing. Can someone help me out dialing a US number?
Thanks.
Posted by htawhtoo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Does anyone know how to delete all the call charging history from the Account section inside your Skype account. I do not want to know the number called and how much it cost but it stares me down when I open up the Account and simply do not want to see it.
Posted by Arty1894 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
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Visit the site http://www.flexyphone.com to order your Free Accessory, along with a virtual number from any country and replace your home phone with a FREE Voip service today.

Flexyphone.com is the SkypeIn numbers provider in Canada, France, UK, USA, Mexico, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy Germany, Australia, Russia, and many more countries...
Posted by TreSte01 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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