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VOIP services

Skype in the Spotlight

8:50 AM -- Skype Ltd. is in the news even more than usual at the moment, following its quarterly earnings report, the launch of a new tariff scheme, and the reemergence of M&A rumors. (See Skype Goes Flat Rate.)

Speculation that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) might offer to take the VOIP services specialist off eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY)'s hands has reappeared, though you could say it's been ever-present since it first emerged late last year. (See Does Google Heart Skype?)

Search "google skype ebay sell" on Google and you'll get a flavor of the level of scuttlebutt.

Such talk has intensified since eBay announced its first-quarter earnings last week. The online firm's accounts show that Skype generated revenues of $123.3 million in the first three months of this year, up 61 percent year-on-year and 9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007. (See eBay Reports Q1.)

And today, Skype announced a "single, monthly flat rate [$9.95]subscription for unlimited international calling to 34 countries worldwide" for its customers in the U.S. and Canada."

In case you're wondering (as I did) which countries those are, here's the list: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (landlines & mobiles), China (landlines & mobiles), Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Hong Kong (landlines & mobiles), Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Klopstockia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore (landlines & mobiles), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States (landlines & mobiles).

That's the kind of offer that will bump up Skype's subscriber base even further -- it currently claims to have 309 million registered users.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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