Skype offers unlimited long-distance plan

A model demonstrates a new IPEVO Free.2 Skype internet phone during a news conference in Taipei January 17, 2007. REUTERS/Richard Chung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Internet calling company Skype said on Monday that it would offer an unlimited long-distance calling service for customers who want to reach friends and family without computers or Internet access.

Skype, owned by eBay, is one of the best-known Internet calling firms which allow free calls among Internet users. Users pay to call landlines and mobile phones, but the fee is often lower than standard long-distance services.

The company said it was offering unlimited calls to landline and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada for $2.95 a month.

It also offers unlimited calls to phones in 34 countries including Australia, China, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, for $9.95 per month, it said.

Skype users in Europe can choose from unlimited plans ranging from 2.95 euros to 8.95 euros a month depending on the destination of calls, the company said.

Skype is one of eBay’s biggest divisions. The parent firm took a $1.4 billion write-down off Skype’s $4.3 billion price tag last year due to problems in making money from largely free Internet voice communications.

Skype’s new chief executive, Josh Silverman, told Reuters in an interview on Friday that he was pleased with the support it has received from eBay, and brushed off media reports that Skype might be put up for sale.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Dave Zimmerman