SkypeOut has launched, allowing subscribers to make cheap calls to phones around the world. Customers sign up for an account and pre-pay for voice minutes. Accounts can be topped up with between US$12 (€9.85) and US$62 (€51).
The cost of calls depends on where the subscriber is and where the call ends, but are generally considerably cheaper. Calls between Skype clients are still free, of course.
The Skype client runs on the subscriber’s computer (and a Linux version is avaialble) and for best results needs a broadband internet connection.
Skype’s 17 million downloads make it quite a force in the communications world, yet it doesn’t need massive amounts of infrastructure to be able to offer a service to its customers as the customer provides uses their own hardware and internet connection.
As Michael Powell, chairman, Federal Communications Commission, said to Fortune Magazine this year: “I knew it was over when I downloaded Skype,” “When the inventors of KaZaA are distributing for free a little program that you can use to talk to anybody else, and the quality is fantastic, and it’s free – it’s over. The world will change now inevitably.”