Skype's Prices Are Creeping Up

Skype just announced a slew of paid calling plans, becoming the latest VoIP company to hike up its rates. These rate increases spell trouble for the fledging Web-calling industry.

I've written about the creep up of VoIP calling rates before. But here's another piece of evidence that this is happening: On Jan. 18, Skype unveiled a slew of new calling plans. Called Skype Pro, these plans, which have just debuted in Europe and will be rolled out worldwide this year, allow users to make unlimited calls to domestic phones for a fixed monthly charge. People who sign up won't have to pay per-minute fees for SkypeOut, and will also enjoy lower international calling fees (yup, Skype Pro users will still have to pay international calling rates, in addition to purchasing the plan).

What I find difficult to believe is that a lot of people will want to take advantage of this. Today, an average Skype user only spends a few bucks a month on SkypeOut, if that. Would users want to pay the expected $6-7 monthly charge? And, on top of that, pay for international calling and for connection fees? Honestly, I think it would be cheaper for people to just buy traditional calling cards.

By the by, Skype is not alone in revving up its charges. A few days ago, Verizon increased rates it charges users of MSN Live Messenger in Mexico, for instance. What's happening is, many VoIP service providers are raising their prices, big time. Sure, they need to find a way to make money. But I think raising prices is a big mistake. In the past, users switched to VoIP because it was the cheapest calling option around. When it's no longer that, customers might no longer hurry to abandon their traditional telecom services providers for upstarts.

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