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Skype slaps charge on non-'Pro' customers

But hasn't actually launched Pro service

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Skype, the rather popular VoIP service, has introduced a connection charge of 3.9 euro cents for all calls outside the Skype network - those using the SkypeOut service - from midday today.

The change comes with several alterations to its international tariffs, and the announcement of a Skype Pro service which will cost €2 a month and remove any per-minute charges for national calls to landlines.

Problem is, Skype Pro won't be available for a while, so for the moment there is just the additional connection charge to worry about, though subscribers to Talk For Britain or Skype Unlimited (in the US) won't have to pay that.

International calls are now being charged at €0.017 per minute - for the Czech Republic (including Prague), Guam, Hungary (including Budapest), Israel (including Jerusalem), Luxembourg, Malaysia (including Kuala Lumpur), Puerto Rico, and both Alaska and Hawaii in the United States - representing cuts of up to 65 per cent.

The VoIP market is hugely price-sensitive, and with such healthy competition no one can be seen to be charging more than anyone else. Mobile phone companies have long specialised in creating tariffs which are too complex to compare, and it's unsurprising to see Skype mucking about with its charges.

The Skype Pro service will also bundle some premium services, including free avatars for CrazyTalk and ringtones from Emotive, and this is indicative of the necessity to get out of the overly price-competitive market of connecting voice calls and into the business of supplying value-added services which offer a better margin as well as improved customer loyalty. ®

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