Internet telephone service Skype said on Wednesday that it would
charge customers $29.95 a year for unlimited calling in the
United States and Canada, a service it had offered free since
eBay Inc.'s Skype, which competes with traditional phone
companies and Web operators like Vonage Holdings Corp. for
customers, said subscribers who sign up for the plan before
January 31 will get the service for half price.
The service covers calls to mobile phones or traditional wire
line phones from computers or from a new category of
Internet-connected phones that run Skype software.
Skype had been offering the computer-to-phone call service free
since May as a promotion aimed at winning new customers.
Customers who do not want to pay a subscription could also opt to
pay for calls at the rate of 2.1 cents a minute which it charged
before the promotion.
Skype calls from computer to computer would still be free for its
customers. The company said it would consider extending the
service for international calls.
Skype said it had more than 136 million registered users globally
at the end of September.