(Kyodo News International via NewsEdge) Skype Technologies, a Luxembourg-based provider of free Internet phone software, plans to introduce in Japan this year a flat charge for calls to fixed-line or mobile phones, a company official said.
This means that Skype users can converse with regular and mobile phone users for as long as they want at no additional cost, unlike the current system where they are charged by the minute, the official of the company's Tokyo office said.
The company offers free Internet phone software.The user can talk to another Skype user anywhere in the world for free via a microphone and earphone connected to the PC.
At present, when Skype users place a call to a fixed-line or mobile phone they must pay Skype Technologies, which in turn pays connection fees to telecom carriers.
In Japan the per-minute charges are about 3.059 yen ($0.03) for calls made to a fixed-line phone and 20.125 yen ($0.16) when connected to a mobile phone.
A flat annual fee of about $30 has already been introduced in such countries as the US for calls by Skype users to people using fixed-line or mobile phones.
Skype's new pricing plan is novel in Japan in that the flat rate will be introduced between Skype users and subscribers to services offered by other phone carriers.
Flat-rate systems are already available to customers of individual phone carriers, as in the case of services offered by personal handyphone system firm Willcom and providers of Internet protocol telephony services.
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