Calling land lines and cell phones from Skype normally requires users to purchase Skype Credits and pay a per-minute rate that varies according to the destination. However, Skype has now launched a version of its SkypeOut service that offers unlimited calls for a yearly fee of $29.95. The service is restricted to users in the U.S. and Canada, but it allows calls to be made to both traditional land lines and cell phones in those two countries. To promote the new service, Skype will charge half the price ($14.95) for a one-year subscription from today until the end of January. Without the subscription, SkypeOut calls to and from the U.S. and Canada cost 2.1 cents a minute.
In related news, Skype has also released a new version of its flagship software. Skype 3.0 brings “Extras,” which allow users to play online board games or show off what songs they’re currently listening to, as well as “Public Chats,” which are voice chatrooms open to all Skype users. Skype 3.0 is available here.