I thought I was kind of late to the Skype bandwagon, but apparently, not as late as I thought. Skype is a VoIP service provider. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and basically, refers to any service that routes phone calls over the internet instead of over traditional phone lines. If you have a high speed internet connection, VoIP allows you to use that connection to make phone calls. At first, VoIP allowed computer users to talk to each other through headsets. But equipment is now available that allows you to "distribute" your VoIP "dialtone" throughout your house. I’ll be writing about VoIP equipment every day this week. But first, you’ll need a service provider.
That’s where Skype comes in. There are other VoIP providers. You’ve probably been solicited by Vonage. Your cable company may be offering you phone service. Skype offers pretty much the same service, at a much lower cost. It’s virtually free. Calls from one skype member to another are completely free. For $29.99 you can get unlimited outbound calls to any phone number in the US or Canada (including landlines, cell phones — any and all numbers) for a WHOLE YEAR! For $60, you can get an inbound phone number — that anyone can call you on from a regular phone for a WHOLE YEAR! That’s $90 for a year of incoming calls, voice mail and all your calls to anyone in the US or Canada. International calls are 2-4¢/minute!
Skype does not currently allow you to transfer your existing phone number, as Vonage and other VoIP providers do, nor do they offer a complete selection of inbound area codes, but you choose any available area code, regardless of where you live. Dump your Joisey 201 for the O.C.’s 714!
Now, the call quality isn’t crystal clear like POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), but with cell phone clarity setting the bar so low these days, that’s not such a big deal. VoIP does not offer emergency 911 calling services, nor will it work if your internet connection goes down. These are all significant considerations. But combine VoIP with your cell phone service, and you have an extremely cost efficient communications package. Sign up for SKYPE today, and check back this week for equipment recommendations.