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Got Skype? Call any land line within US and Canada for free

Skype, famous for launching the first popular Internet VoIP communications software, previously had a subscription or pay mode called SkypeOut. The feature enabled Skype users within the US and Canada to make calls to landlines for small fees. After paying or adding pre-paid credit, users would then be able to use Skype on their computers to make calls to anywhere within the US -- to other Skype users (for free) and to regular land lines.

Today, Skype announces a major milestone in VoIP communication: free calls to any land line in the US and Canada, free of charge. No strings attached, at all. Simply use your existing Skype software and SkypeOut login, and begin making those calls. Call lengths are unlimited and can be made at any time during the day or night. From the press release:

Yes. It is really very, very free. There’s no prepayment, no minimum use, no subscription, no monthly fee, no nothing. You just download and install Skype and then you start calling. Both the caller and the number called must be in either the US or Canada. There are no strings attached.

The only condition is that we have said free SkypeOut within the US and Canada is guaranteed to last until the end of this year — that is, until December 31, 2006. We’re not quite sure yet what we will do after that. Maybe we extend the free period, maybe not. You’ll hear more about this towards the end of the year.

This marks a major milestone not only for Skype, but for making calls within the US and Canada in all of history. Never has a company offered free calling to land lines in the US and Canada, and while the hurrah of VoIP promised to remove customers from the grasps of large telcos, Skype has truly made VoIP what it was intended to be. Although Skype is still unsure of what it will do with this free SkypeOut feature once 2007 hits, everyone is hoping that Skype will continue its breakthrough for the long haul. 

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illegal (sortof) in the US, I believe
By ninjit on 5/15/2006 1:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
And Skype was not the first with this.

Both net2phone and dialpad started out with free calls to US numbers, which is why they took off in the first place.
But then the oldschool Telecoms cried foul, and the FTC intervened (I'm trying to find old news bits about this, anyone got any linkies?).

I think Skype can get away with this because they are based in Europe, not the US.

I wonder how telecom regulation is going to apply to this?

RE: illegal (sortof) in the US, I believe
By TomZ on 5/15/2006 2:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think your assertion about this being illegal in the US is true. I'm not aware of any rule or regulation is violated. I also think that Skype, which is obviously operating in the US to make this happen, would have considered any legal challenges to its operation prior to launching like this.

RE: illegal (sortof) in the US, I believe
By ninjit on 5/15/2006 2:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
You might be right, I haven't been able to turn up anything in searching.
They may have just bowed to pressure from the FTC.
Net2phones business model got revenue through banner ads in their calling software, and I think they still do that but can't offer free PC-to-Phone calling anymore

However I agree with the person above, about this definitely not being the first, and I really love Tuan's little line that:
Never has a company offered free calling to land lines in the US and Canada

You might want to do a little more homework before you make such sweeping statements. I'm sure you just didn't know about Net2phone, but it doesn't look very professional.

By Lifted on 5/15/2006 8:21:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I was using net2phone way back when I was still on dial-up I think. That was at least 6 years ago. Skype is FAR from being the first to offer free calls to the US and Canada. I think he pulled that one out of his @ss.

RE: illegal (sortof) in the US, I believe
By Kamus on 5/15/2006 5:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
skype is different from all the other services, the fact is, all other VOIP services require a server, and that server is expensive to run, skype on the other hand is completley peer to peer, there is no way the service will be interrupted because "the server went down" and this keeps the prices not low, but non existant when it comes to peer to peer calls, all evryone has to pay for, is their internet service.

By ninjit on 5/15/2006 5:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
That maybe true for skype-to-skype connections, but in order to dial a landline you need a gateway server to make the connection, so skype must be running their own servers for skype-Out service in every country it allows calling to.

So they are just as prone to server interuptions as everyone else.

Land Lines are Dead
By Hydrofirex on 5/15/2006 6:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
Cell phones everyone, that is the element I think a lot of the discussion about longevity is missing. I havn't had a traditional land line in years - I never will again. Think about it: Data is Data is Data is Data (And yes, the phone companies recognize data for what it is, just see the so called "Net Nuetrality" debate that is going on right now!). You get some redundancy in having a "phone" line, but that channel is NOT garunteed in a emergency. If you thinking apocolyptic disaster security I think you should move towards a radio and a a car battery.

We need two internet connections: one super-broadband home line that can accomidate MANY data streams. So that your VOIP doesn't mess with your grandma's City of Villians game, your kids research for school, and your... etrading or ebaying or what-have-you. The other connection is a generous mobile connection capable of supporting video phone functions and using all the streaming content that can be crammed into the air. Cellular packet technology is a form of networking. Cell phones are even supposed to be using VOIP so that when you're on a home LAN your minutes arent used and the phone goes VOIP. I saw this months ago, and surprisingly havn't heard a word since.


RE: Land Lines are Dead
By breethon on 5/15/2006 7:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
yep, you got it, for the most part. I haven't had a land line in over 2 years (this month to be exact). For those out in B.F.E., however, land lines are a necessary evil. Until cell phone coverage (or high speed internet for VOIP) is available everywhere, some must suffer from the ill effects of the dark side.

RE: Land Lines are Dead
By vingamm on 5/16/2006 4:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
Hydro you are dead on. I JUST ordered VoIP through my cable service. Mostly because the bundled service was cheaper than getting cable and Internet seperately. I personally have not had a landline in 3 years. I did not see the reason to have two phones when most of my friends and family call my Cell even when they know I am at home. I read that article a while back (I think it was on The Register) and have not heard word one since. I am at work now I will try this when I get home hopefully the hype (or the skype) will have died a little by then. Also Net2Phone, Dialpad, Hottelephone, and I think even Yahoo at one time offer calls to land lines. And while we are talking about this technology, I still use netmeeting to talk to my family. we all have WiFi and Laptops with cameras in them I just punch in the IP and instant video call! and it is free. Before someone knocks me for netmeeting not being routable, do some research. you just have to get the right router or software.

RE: Land Lines are Dead
By Hydrofirex on 5/16/2006 5:58:54 PM , Rating: 2
I hate to be the one who knocks you, but I still can't even get an IM client to establish a 2 way web cam stream. Yes, it's the router - Damn NAT! Which, if anything, it's a good point that these technologies are still not nessicarily ready for the mainstream.


not the first...
By abhaxus on 5/15/2006 1:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
My freshman year of college in 2000-2001 I used an internet calling program to call my parents which was free. I have no idea what the name was anymore, and the quality was terrible. But this is definitely not the first, just the first to do so with good quality.

RE: not the first...
By jmunjr on 5/15/2006 2:58:19 PM , Rating: 2
It was probably Dialpad.

"Never has a company offered free calling to land lines in the US and Canada"

I am not sure about the Canada part, but Dialpad offered free calls to anywhere in the USA for quite a while many years ago. Once again more false information, but then again real media sources give false info all the time as well.

RE: not the first...
By sxr7171 on 5/15/2006 3:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, but not as often as here.

BTW, did also.

This motivated me to download.. but not working :(
By irev210 on 5/15/2006 2:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
This sucks, it isnt letting me skype out.

Anyone else having this problem?

By InternetGeek on 5/15/2006 2:38:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's called 'overloaded servers'. The nano-second the phrase 'free calls in USA & CAN' hit the internet people were already subscribing and dialing out.

By glennpratt on 5/18/2006 5:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
I just dled to my pocket pc, registered and called a friend in about 1 minute.

SkypeOut Now Totally Free in US and Canada
By ThomM on 5/15/2006 7:07:41 PM , Rating: 2
And no one is concerned that Skype and KaZaa are the fruit of the same vine? ( ) You all remember the good folk ( ) who brought you that beneficent program KaZaa, don't you? ( ) Do the words "spyware" and "data mining" ring any bells?

By KristopherKubicki on 5/15/2006 8:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be more concerned about Ebay owning Skype than Skype and Kazaa having the same (now distant) roots.

By Hydrofirex on 5/16/2006 5:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, you are definately correct about that. Not that I would ever install software that could be used to circumvent Intellectual property rights *GASP!* and therefore know what your talking about.


Great progress, but still snags
By segagenesis on 5/15/2006 12:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
I have no doubts that this technology has potential, yet a few simple problems have some worried (at least those ive spoken to about) about longevity. The main issue is cutting your main landline in favor of VoIP. Picture it, if you will, were accustomed to picking up a handset and getting a dialtone every time even when the power is out or some other major problem. I still had phone service in a hurricane the past couple of years.

The concept of using this as your primary phone service though depends on how the internet is feeling and also possible backlash from your service provider (blocking VoIP?). Others are worried about 911 service if they get rid of thier existing line. While we may eventually see worldwide VoIP service thats ubituous (sp?) as calling someone next door... some of these problems need to be figured out first.

RE: Great progress, but still snags
By creathir on 5/15/2006 3:11:37 PM , Rating: 1
Where have you been? All of these issues were SOLVED 10 years ago (literally)
The big guys have been using VoIP to carry your signal for a LONG time now (father used to work for good 'ol WorldCom... they were doing this back in the late 90's)

Your issue with picking up a handset has been resolved as well. Go look up the word SIP or VoIP Gateway. These devices and technologies enable normal phones, soft phones, and any other phone (try a WiFi SIP Phone... those are really cool)

911 is another thing that has been resolved. e911 is a service that most VoIP providers have. You register the location of the phone, and when you dial 911, it routes to the correct dispatch. The only downside is that if you physically move the phone, it will show you as being registered in location X, while you are in location Y. They slap warnings in manuals and even on the phones sometimes about this. Eventually this problem will be solved by in phone GPS or something like that.
- Creathir

By segagenesis on 5/15/2006 3:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I do not disagree... I was attempting referring to as picking up a phone and getting a dialtone reliably. When the power goes out you still get phone service regardless. Maybe you misinterpreted my question? We have VoIP where I work and analog converters for fax lines and old phones, but the reliability is spotty. It's the company with the golden gate bridge for its logo. No, I don't manage it.

Regardless of the provider, the issues I describe must be local because those I've talked to who are trying various VoIP services have gotten very mixed reviews.

Works for calling cell phones too
By Aleman on 5/15/2006 12:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
It also works for calling cell phones. I tested it on my MacBook Pro and it works perfectly. The voice quality is seemingly identical to a regular cell phone call, even with the built-in mic in my laptop.

Awesome. This will save me some cell minutes.

There's a nice Dashboard widget that works great too btw, and they have a Universal Binary out :)

By IMPoor on 5/15/2006 5:58:21 PM , Rating: 2
I just tested it also. Work realy well and sound clear. No delays. I have a good headset (Logitech) for gaming that I use so I don't know how well it will work on a cheap microphone. Only drawback is the number that shows on the cell phone caller ID looks fake. People will think its a bill collector or telemarketer.

Skype Vs. Skype
By MobileZone on 5/17/2006 5:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
A while ago I was testing a program called "File Monitor", which tells me everything that every single process is doing on my XP: open files, closed files, read, write, everything. I was quite surprised when I catch Skype.exe process kinda "sniffing" my personal bookmarks inside the users/document And Settings/bla/bla/bla/bla/favorites folder.... far away from the Skype folder. I Think I'd better read carefully those "agreements" before software installation.

RE: Skype Vs. Skype
By ThomM on 5/20/2006 2:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Not much new under the sun, is there? Spiders will ever spin their webs (" 'Will you walk into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly..." Mary Botham Howitt, 1799-1888)

By SunAngel on 5/15/06, Rating: -1
RE: OMG!!!
By sashilover on 9/14/2006 2:00:00 AM , Rating: 2
I think it's a good news for people live in France.Skype is great VOIP,only one thing missed is call recording feature,we podcasters need third-part application such as PrettyMay to record interviews in mp3 files.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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