Yesterday’s announcement of new international calling plans available from Skype probably set a record for generating press traffic about Skype. Certainly my “:Skype” keyword feed in FeedDemon has been gone off the end. Most of the reports were simply rehashes of the original two press releases (Global and North America). But some bloggers’ observations are worth mentioning.
Pat Phelan at Cubic Telecomm (MaxRoam) thinks these plans will seriously impact the phone card market:
This a serious blow to the phone card market and with the multicountry plans to launch prepaid Skype cards now starting to ramp up this could spell the end. ….
These packages are certainly going to make me re-examine my Skype usage, couple this with the excellent quality I have been getting on my 3Skypephone lately and its time thr a package change on my Vodafone corporate account
Mark Evans thinks the sexier story is Skype’s growth:
There’s lots of excitement today about Skype unveiling a new plan offering unlimited long-distance calls to 34 countries but the far more interesting story – at least from this corner’s perspective – is Skype’s strong growth, which has been chronically unreported.
Andy Abramson, at VoIP Watch gives his take:
1. Revenue can become more predictable as it will be charged monthly. Unlike the Skype Unlimited plan which was a one time purchase, this allows users to change plans and also drop or add it as they need it. That means students and vacationers are ideal targets.
2. The charges can be to PayPal or any credit card. This opens up the universe of potential users to non-PayPal users.
3. The plan is changeable between hemispheres so if you buy one in say the USA and end up in Europe working, in school or on vacation the Skype users can swap out as needed.
While I know road warrior and world traveler Andy immediately signed up for a World plan, PhoneBoy’s selection is more typical of North Americans with no overseas family ties:
This certainly makes it easier for people to justify giving Skype more per-month. If I made a couple of calls to Mexico or to the countries that are supported, I would certainly do it. However, I find the current Skype Pro offering–and the Skype Unlimited U.S./Canada plan–suffciient for my needs.
Dan York, who gets a bird’s eye view of the telecomm world from his work with Voxeo sees it, for the U.S. market, as a step up from “unlimited” domestic calling plans in the U.S. He also comments on telcos’ use of the term “unlimited” (to really mean “lots and lots” but “enough is enough”):
Of course, I had to laugh at Skype joining into the game played by all the major carriers here in NA known as “redefining the word ‘unlimited'”. Several of the carriers here in the USA and also in Canada have at various times trumpeted their “unlimited” data plans… which of course were “unlimited” only according to the carrier’s definition of unlimited… really something more like:
“Unlimited” = “unlimited calling up to a certain point that our finance folks have determined you start to impact our profit”
My thoughts on that issue: if you’re using that many minutes (over five hours of calling per day)
- it’s only fair, and does not hurt, to pay for excessive use if you’re running a (revenue generating) business
- figure out a way to get your contact onto Skype.
- get a life!
Certainly these plans could have a major impact in the Canadian market where we have many families with roots in the overseas countries serviced by the World plans. From my own anecdotal contacts, Skype attracts two major demographics in Canada: (i) family calling back to the “home country” overseas and (ii) small businesses wanting to grow worldwide. Unfortunately Skype’s “World” plans do not cover India, Pakistan and the Philippines where many Canadians have strong family ties. (I’m especially surprised by the lack of India since we know Skype has termination arrangements for both Canada and India through VSNL.).
The consensus in this morning’s Squawk Box call (recording link to follow when available) was that these plans are evolutionary while setting new pricing benchmarks for flat rate calling. It’s more a matter of working out the various terminating carrier agreements as opposed to any major new technology developments. And the biggest challenge is making access to Skype calling easier for the consumer through increased distribution of dedicated Skype-enabled hardware platforms with the familiar telephone touchtone interface in various markets – but especially in Canada and the U.S.
Tags: Skype, Pat Phelan, Mark Evans, MaxRoam, Andy Abramson, VoIP Watch, Dan York, PhoneBoy, VSNL, Skype Calling Plans, Squawk Box
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