Skypin' for Nothin'

Yesterday, Internet-phone powerhouse Skype made a good thing even better, announcing that calls made to any number in the U.S. or Canada are now free. The previous going rate was around two cents per minute—not too shabby, either. But still, free is free—and you no longer need a credit card to get started.

Skype HQ apparently had some trouble implementing the free service yesterday (it still asked some Skypers for credit), but they have apparently ironed out most of the bugs. I just called my own cellphone from my computer, and I must say it's pretty thrilling to get something for free that you've been paying for all your life.

Does this mean big pain for traditional telecom companies? Many of them already offer VoIP service—but of course not for free. Connecting your Skype account to an actual phone number for incoming calls is the only thing you still have to shell out for, but at around $35 for a full year's worth of service, it's the best bargain around by far. And several new Wi-Fi handsets are now hitting the market, cutting the tether to your computer and making Skype function just like a regular cordless phone [check PopSci's rundown for a few of the hottest models].

What say you, blog readers? Ready to ditch your long-distance service and become Skypers for life? Having fun chatting with Grandma in Saskatchewan for free? Let us know in the comments. —John Mahoney