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Can You Save Money with Skype?

January 29th, 2010

skype-save-money-online.jpgIn tough economic times, many of us are looking for every possible way to cut costs or, even better, find free alternatives. Skype allows free phone calls to be made via the Internet, with the possibility of substantial savings.

What is Skype?

Technically, Skype is VoIP (Voiceover Internet Protocol) software that allows users to call other phones over the Internet. That means communication not only with Skype-enabled computers or phones but also landlines and cellphones on other networks. It boasts many features associated with traditional telephony, including voicemail, call waiting, and even limited videoconferencing. You can send text messages, have 3 and 4 way calls, customize your ringtones, and do many other things that we’ve become accustomed to. You can send files by Skype – even while chatting – and with additional services, you can send faxes too.

What you need

If you plan to use your computer for Skype you will need either a microphone and speakers (built into some computers, but not necessarily adequate) or a headset, or a Skype-enabled cell phone. (You’ll also need a sound card inside your PC). Various networks offer models of Skype-enabled phones and Skype markets its own Skypephone. You can install the software on the computer or plug in a device (like a memory stick) to a USB port.

Is it really free?

Yes, but only under certain circumstances. If you download the software, calling other Skype numbers is free. International calls to selected destinations are free. Other services require a subscription (monthly or pay as you go) and prepaid credit.

What are the costs?

To call landlines or any non-Skype number you need to subscribe to SkypeOut. The rates vary. They are very competitive for most countries but remote places can be costly. Limits on talk hours and numbers of messages, as well as Skype’s fair usage policy, can also land you with some hefty charges if you overrun your allocation. Voicemail and other extras also incur additional charges.

What are the limitations?

  1. You need broadband, since it won’t work well if you connect to the Internet by dialup networking. It also doesn’t work with GPRS, which is one way of connecting to the Internet via a cellphone.
  2. You can’t use Skype to call emergency numbers, such as 911 in the US or 999 in the UK.

Is Skype worth it?

That depends on your usage. If you make lots of international calls it could be ideal, especially if the people you call are also Skype users. Long distance in the same country doesn’t count. You’ll need to check the limits and fair usage policies for local call limits, but you’d have to be quite chatty to exceed them.

If your phone usage fits the bill, then you could cut your phone charges substantially. If not, with good rates applying to non-Skype numbers in many countries, it could still be worthwhile.


This article on saving money with Skype was sent to us by “Solo” from Constant Content.


One Response to “Can You Save Money with Skype?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Ireland5

    Good article - I was wondering about this alternative and the associated costs.

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