We just announced that SkypeOut is now free within the US and Canada to all landlines and mobiles, until at least the end of 2006.
How does this work?
If you’re in the US or Canada, you can use SkypeOut to call any landline or mobile number in both the USA and Canada for free.
If you’re in the US or Canada and calling any other country, OR if you’re in any other country and calling landline or mobile numbers in the US or Canada, the standard SkypeOut rates apply.
Of course, Skype-to-Skype calls continue to be globally free, so no changes there.
See also the campaign FAQ.
Is it really free? What are the strings attached?
Yes. It is really very, very free. There’s no prepayment, no minimum use, no subscription, no monthly fee, no nothing. You just download and install Skype and then you start calling. Both the caller and the number called must be in either the US or Canada. There are no strings attached.
The only condition is that we have said free SkypeOut within the US and Canada is guaranteed to last until the end of this year — that is, until December 31, 2006. We’re not quite sure yet what we will do after that. Maybe we extend the free period, maybe not. You’ll hear more about this towards the end of the year.
Until then, happy calling.
Note that if you haven’t bought any Skype Credit, your Skype client may still tell you something about needing to buy some before you can use SkypeOut. Just disregard that and place your call. It will work fine :) We already had this for toll-free 800 numbers where you could call them for free without actually buying any credit so we know this works. And it works on all platforms where SkypeOut is available, which at this time means Windows, Mac, Linux and Pocket PC.
This also works with call forwarding. If you have call forwarded to your US or Canadian phone or cell number and someone calls you from the US or Canada, it gets forwarded to your phone or cell and it costs you nothing. If you get a call from another country, the forwarding costs you the standard calling rate. Note that this is not applicable with SkypeIn — calls received with SkypeIn and then forwarded with SkypeOut cost you the standard rates.
As far as we know, this is the first time in history when unlimited calls to a standard telephone network are free without any form of payment or subscription. That’s kind of cool. (Update: ok, as the comments here and on Digg say, there were a few others years ago. Oh well.)
This is also a great example of Skype being lean and mean. We continue to innovate rapidly. From the inception of this “project” of free North American SkypeOut to you actually reading this and being able to use it, the time period was really short. Many thanks to the whole team involved in making this.