Skype today announced a new Skype Unlimited Calling plan. The Skype Unlimited Calling plan is available for a flat rate of $29.95 per year. It will replace the free Skype Out promotion due to end in a few weeks. Registered users get 12 months of unlimited SkypeOut calls to any phone within the U.S. and Canada.
Consumers can also choose to pay for SkypeOut calls at low per-minute rates (2.1 cents per minute within the U.S. and Canada). This is the first time that Skype is making an annual subscription calling plan available.
Customers who purchase the new Skype Unlimited Calling plan at Skype’s website before January 31, 2007 will get discounted pricing of $14.95, a bonus offer of 100 minutes of SkypeOut credit for making international calls and over $50 in discount coupons for purchasing Skype-certified hardware products.
Skype Wi-Fi phones, like Belkin’s $190 WiFi phone (SmallNetBuilder Review), will work with Boingo’s hotspot network. Belkin teamed with Skype and Boingo hotspots for an $8 per month unlimited use plan in the US and Canada.
According to the NY Times, despite the relatively low cost of the service, industry analysts said Skype was not considered to be serious competition in the telecommunications business. Skype, unlike Vonage, the cable companies and other competitors, generally requires users to download software and to make calls from the device on which it is installed.
But WiFi phones with Skype embedded, like the Belkin unit, could change all that.