Skype is set to get a very serious competitor in the realm of cheap international Voice-over-IP market as O2 has started taking orders for a new beta service that will allow unlimited international phone calls for a fixed fee.
The product, which is currently in beta, is called International Families and Friends bolt-on, and is available for Pay monthly and Pay & Go customers.
The service starts from £5 a month which will allow you to call one number - either mobile or fixed - in one selected country at anytime and get one international number. You can change these numbers twice per month.
£10 per month will get you three numbers and £15 per month five in all. To be fair, there is a fair usage policy but at 5000 minutes per month, per number, it should be more than sufficient given that O2 will automatically terminate your call after 60 minute rather than charge you at a premium.
O2 has included 60 countries at this stage where customers will be able to call but the international number will only be available in 24 of them. There are some surprising inclusions in the list; Mauritius for example is there but not Mexico.
The Telefonica-owned company has confirmed that the trial will go on until the end of July 2010 and may be extended after that and possibly longer.