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Skype Launches Service To PSTN

Skype Technologies, the peer-to-peer Internet phoning system, moved from its beta category to commercial service Tuesday. At the same time, the company made available beta versions running Microsoft Pocket PC OS and Linux.
The new paid commercial service -- called SkypeOut -- terminates calls at virtually anywhere in the world where there is a standard telephone. Previously users of Skype service had to have Skype proprietary software and gear at both caller and receiver ends of calls. That service is still free.

"We've had more than 100,000 downloads of our software in the last 12 hours," Kelly Larabee, Skype spokesperson, said Tuesday. "At this exact moment, 469,486 users are online with Skype. And we haven't been in business for a year yet."

For the commercial service, the firm said subscribers can acquire credit for global calling at rates around two cents a minute. The traditional Skype service remains free, but caller and receiver must have special software and hardware, typically headphones and a microphone.

Skype for Linux and Skype for Pocket PC were also made available Tuesday, although they are still beta versions. The commercial SkypeOut version, Skype for Windows Version 1.0, is the firm's first venture into paid markets.

In announcing the new services, Skype founder and CEO Niklas Zennstrom said the firm will continue to develop features for Skype's various plans. Currently free features include conference calling, a global directory, instant messaging, call tracking, and file transfer. Based in Luxembourg, Skype's creators also created the Kazaa peer-to-peer network.

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