STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ The creators of Skype, the peer-to-peer program that lets computer users make free calls to each other anywhere in the world, are going one step farther in their bid to compete with traditional telecom companies, releasing a new version that lets users dial regular phones from a computer.
Skype Technologies SA, a privately held Luxembourg-based company, said Friday that it had struck deals with providers COLT, iBasis, Level 3 and Teleglobe to launch SkypeOut, a soon-to-be-launched prepaid service.
Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom said SkypeOut would be released later this year, but didn't say when or how much it would cost users.
The basic Skype program, offered as a free download over the Internet, lets people use their computers as telephones to call others equipped with Skype software. It incorporates a technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol.
A similar version, Skype Plus, is planned for later this year, and will let people collect voice mail and receive calls from regular telephones. SkypeOut goes a step farther by letting Skype computers call regular phones.
"We will now move quickly and offer SkypeOut calls to landline and mobile phone numbers around the world,'' said Zennstrom, who also co-created the song-swapping program Kazaa.
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