Skype: Online Phone Calls

by JL Beeken on 2-13-2008

While February whiles itself away, and we wait and wait and wait and wait for Legacy 7.0, I’m scouring the web for other useful tools and oops, forgot this one. Skype.

Skype is a service for making phone calls through your computer. You’d be talking on the phone, as usual, except it’s happening through your computer instead of your land-line.

Skype

I signed up a couple of years ago and still have 67 cents on my SkypeOut account that I paid $10 into. That’s what a combination of free and 2 cents-a-minute long-distance calls can do for you.

If you haven’t been here yet, some simple explanation:

All you need is a headset, or even just a microphone. Plug it into your computer, turn up your speakers, make your call and you’re there. Well, first you have to download and install the software. You get a nifty little screen for adding your contacts, and dialing. Click the desired person on your list and then the green dialing button at the bottom. To hang up click the red button. It makes a ka-ching sound like the old pay-phones. Nice touch.

If you and any of your friends are both signed up to Skype, your calls are free. You’re automatically hooked-up through your Skype IDs. The next state or the other side of the world – free. I remember when I was a kid, the panic of the adults in the house, jumping up and down, yelling “Talk faster, talk faster…” whenever we were on the phone long-distance. And this would be a rare occasion. Like Grandma at Christmas. Boy, was that a long time ago.

If some of your friends do not have Skype, you need to purchase some long-distance time. The minimum is $10 and your phone time is subtracted automatically and shown right on your screen where you can see it. In 30 countries it’s at the unified global rate of .017EUR a minute. In Canada and the U.S. that’s about 2.1 cents. All SkypeOut calls are subject to a connection fee. In Canada and Australia the connection fee is about 8 cents. In the U.S. it’s 5 cents. Hardly worth mentioning. In Denmark it’ll cost you .33 EURO’s. (About 48 cents.)

Or you can do it this way:
Skype ($3 a month)
* Nothing per minute nationwide calls
For calls to any phone within the US and Canada* (with no connection fee).
* Save up to 60% on a personal online number
A SkypeIn number that lets people call you at local rates.
* Call transfer
Transfer calls to Skype contacts, phones or cell phones.
* Save on the move with Skype To Go
International calls from your cell phone at local rates.
* Voicemail – never miss a call
Pick up messages when you’re busy or offline.

There’s more: conference calls, chats, free video calling, online games, text messaging, voice-mail and call-forwarding.

There are also Skype-compatible cordless, (with a PC or without) wifi and mobile phones. Check it all out at the Skype Store.

The basics are: Download and install the software, get a computer headset if you don’t have one, add some contacts, (you can import them from other programs) pre-pay the equivalent of about $10 U.S. for SkypeOut, and start calling. The sound quality is phenomenal. Much better than my regular phone. I talk to cousins on the other side of the country and it sounds like we’re in the same room.

And talk your friends into signing up so you can talk for free. This is no-brainer long-distance.

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