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Monday, April 21, 2008
Skype to sell unlimited international calls for $9.95/month

Skype, the Internet calling subsidiary of eBay Inc., is introducing its first plan for unlimited calls to overseas phones on Monday.

The plan will allow unlimited calls to land-line phones in 34 countries for $9.95 per month, said Don Albert, vice president and general manager for Skype North America. The countries encompassed include most of Europe, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Malaysia. Calls to domestic land lines and cell phones are included as well, as are calls to cell phones in Canada, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, but not cell phones in other countries. Skype has already been selling unlimited calls to the U.S. 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 that fall under their plan, paying only local access charges or using their cell-phone airtime. Unlimited international calling plans have been popping up in recent years from hardware-based phone services like Vonage International Holdings Corp. 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 called 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.

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