In case you haven’t heard by now, Skype is a service that, like MSN Messenger and others, lets you make free voice and video calls over the Internet, provided people on both ends of the conversation have installed Skype and a microphone with speakers and/or headset. To make video calls you need some sort of web cam.
What sets Skype apart from the other Internet telephony services is the clarity of the signal and the additional services it provides. For 2 cents per minute you can call any telephone in the US. For about 6 cents per minute you can all land and mobile phones all over the world. This service is called â€œSkype-Outâ€ and is so inexpensive that I use it to make local telephone calls within the city of KoÅ¡ice, Slovakia, where I live. It ends up costing about a third as much as a traditional phone call here. (Unlike America, local calls are not free – they cost on average of 20 cents per minute.)
Skype is just about the only way to call a toll-free number in America from abroad. I’ve already used it several times to call 800 and 888 numbers in the States. This would simply not be possible without using a service like Skype.
Skype also offers another service, called â€œSkype-In,â€ which allows others to call a local phone number and have it ring through to Skype running on your computer. That’s what my Mom does when she wants to call me. I have a local Thousand Oaks (Calif) number that she can call free of charge (because it’s a local call). The clarity is so good with Skype-In that you’d swear I was sitting in the next room and not half way around the globe. For those interested, my Skype-In number is +1 (805) 322-7459.
If I happen to step away from my computer, or leave the house to go run an errand, I’ve set up Skype to forward incoming phone calls (both from computers and telephones) to ring on my Slovak cell phone.
When (not if) you sign up with Skype, be sure to add me as a contact. My Skype Id is: tonysneed. Or you can add me using my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there soon!