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Skype readying 5-way video chats, cheap worldwide plans

updated 12:25 pm EDT, Wed May 5, 2010

Skype plans multi-user video chat beta

Skype this morning said it would launch a beta of its desktop app that opens the door to 5-user chat. The feature will be one of the few for a mainstream app outside of iChat and is being pitched as a way to simplify videoconferencing. The beta will be available sometime next week and will initially be free, though it may cost extra at a later date.

In sync with the video options, the company is also expanding its international calling plans to 170 countries as a cheaper alternative to the prepaid options they would normally have to use. The exact rates vary by country but start at the equivalent of $1.09 per month for 60 minutes of calling to real-world numbers. The deals can also work on a per-month basis or extend to every three months or whole year.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Yes, but....

    Yes, but is Skype going to offer a simple, phone-service-like plan?

    I went with MagicJack rather than Skype for my office long distance needs because it's not only cheaper, it's simpler. No klutzing with various in/out plans to various combinations of countries. Just some $2 a month for all of North America with a provision for funding calls elsewhere in the world. And I've saved quite a bit of money. Short calls come in on my T-Mobile/per minute cellular. Longer and outgoing calls are handled by MagicJack. I'd have preferred Skype's software solution to MagicJack's hardware plus software, but the other advantages were too persuasive.

    My only gripe is that MagicJack and Google Voice don't work well together. Offline, MagicJack calls instantly goes to voice mail, blocking the ringing of my T-Mobile number. If Skype can 'make friendly' with Google Voice or offer a full set of Google Voice-like features, they'll get my attention again.

  1. DCJ001

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Oct 2007


    Skype/Google Voice

    I use Skype with Google Voice and the combination works great. There's also an option to list your Google Voice number as the number shown on the caller ID that people see when you make outbound calls with Skype.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    Maybe they should ....

    focus their efforts on getting a proper iPhone app with support for 3G, and improve call quality, and application speed, instead of all these lofty goals. Most people won't care for group video chat, but they sure will appreciate reliability and call quality.

    Skype used to be really good for call quality and ease of connection, but nowadays, they've been going downhill.

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