For those of us who have been writing about VoIP, Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs) are not such a big deal. ATA is doohickey that connects to your broadband connection on one end and an old-fashioned phone handset on the other. In its heyday, Vonage was using low-cost ATAs to lure customers. Now Skype finally has joined the party. In a blog post, the company outlined the pricing:
Just connect your home phone, broadband and landline to the phone adapter and enjoy the freedom of making Skype calls anywhere around the house from your home phone. You can also receive Skype to Skype calls from other Skype users on your landline phone using the Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter.
• FREETALK Connect•Me + more than 60 minutes** of complimentary calls to landlines and mobiles via Skype ($39.99)
• FREETALK Connect•Me + 12 months of calls to landlines and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada and 200 minutes**of calls to international landlines and mobiles ($59.99)
• FREETALK Connect•Me + a 3-month Unlimited*World subscription to the US and Canada plus landlines in 40 other countries ($59.99)
These new ATAs, similar to the popular MagicJack adapters, are made by
SpanishHong Kong-based Freetalk and are embedded with SkypeKit; the services and APIs that consumer electronic devices use to plug-in to Skype.
I think the ability to receive Skype-to-Skype calls on the landline helps Skype toward its ambition of becoming the new phone network. That’s why I feel Skype should be giving these ATAs away, just as it gives away its mobile apps. The easier it is for people to use the Skype network, the more likely they are to spend money buying minutes for calling people on non-Skype phones. And that can’t be a bad thing for Skype.