skypeIn a Wall Street Journal article this morning (sub. required), it was reported that Skype, the privately owned international long distance company plans to trial multi-point video conferencing. Trials are free, but the company plans to charge for the service later in the summer.

Typically, the Skype business model is to have free PC-to-PC calls, but charge for SkypeOut calls (calls that terminate on the Public Telephone Network) in flat-fee in North America and per-minute in Rest of World where local measured service dominates, SkypeIn calls. Most other enhancements are free Рcall forward, voicemail and Skype-to-Go (mobile phone calls a Skype-to-Go telephone number, where the service executes a SkypeOut call to another number, probably international. This is cheaper than dialing the international call directly from the mobile.)

Three-way (and up to five-way) video calling is a high-value high priority feature for consumers and frequent Skype video users. Point-to-point is one thing, but in business, multi-point is far more valuable and important.

This model – free for PC-to-PC and small extra $ for value-add – is the key to Skype’s steady growth over the past few years.

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