Skype is planning to launch a service that lets users place unlimited calls to phone numbers in the US and Canada for a flat fee of $29.95 a year.
The new service is scheduled to go live on 1 January 2007. Consumers who sign up for the plan before the end of January receive a 50 per cent discount for the first year. Calls between two Skype clients will remain free.
The introduction of the plan is essentially a rate hike. Skype dropped all calling fees for phone calls within North America earlier this year.
In addition to the flat fee offering, the company also plans to reintroduce its old pay-per-minute plan that allows consumers to purchase credits.
Skype also released version 3 of its messaging client for Windows machines. The new version adds a public group chat feature and offers expanded support for third-party applications.
Such applications include games and tools that share information such as the last song that a user played.
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