Skype tries to go up-market

Ebay (EBAY) has not had much luck making money on Skype since it bought the VoIP company that has tens of millions of customers around the world. Too many of the users take advantage of the free features of Skype and don't upgrade to premium services. That may be because the free version of the online phone company works so well.

So Skype will take a run at the corporate market where customers are used to paying money for telecom services. According to The Wall Street Journal, Skype will launch a system that will connect company phone systems. The paper reports "that initially, the company will charge about 2.1 cents per minute for calls to cellphones and fixed lines, but calls from computers to phone systems using the Skype software will be free."

The success of the new enterprise may depend on what the large telecom companies actually charge business customers. Their published rates are much more that 2 cents a minute, but, like most things in business, phone rates are negotiable. The actual price phone companies charge business customers may be only a few pennies a call. Adding new customers does not cost a telephone firm any substantial money since it already has all if its infrastructure in place and paid for.

Skype's deal for corporations may not be as financially attractive as it sounds.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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