01.Cut phone costs with skype
Long-distance phone calls can keep you in touch with far flung friends and loved ones, but you don’t want to have to mortgage your house to pay for them. Enter Skype, a cost-cutting way to make phone calls over the internet.
Skype software uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to help you make free calls to another Skype user, almost anywhere in the world, using your internet connection.
As well as talking directly PC-to-PC, you can also call non-Skype users on their landline or mobile phone at cheap, per minute rates. Skype is free to download and there’s no setup or subscription fee. It’s also free from annoying advertising banners and pop-ups.
Although just one of many VoIP providers, Skype has more than 100 million accounts worldwide and was named Best Buy in tests by our sister publication in the UK, Computing Which?
You can use Skype to chat with a person or group of people in a similar way to using an instant messaging program. The software lets you add people to your personal contact list and you can see when they’re online, offline or busy. You can organise your contacts in groups, such as friends, family or work. If you share a group, everybody in the group can see when a new person joins.
Security is a big concern for many internet users so Skype encrypts all calls, chats and file transfers to keep them private.
Please note: this information was current as of April 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
What you can do
Once you have an internet connection and the Skype software, here’s what you can do for free with other Skype users:
- Voice calls
- Video calls
- One-to-one and group chats
- Conference calls
- Send files and photos
- Forward calls to other users.
Skype isn't a replacement for your ordinary telephone and can't be used for emergency calls or in a power outage.
Some other Skype features come with a price, but it can still be cheap compared to landline and mobile costs.
- SkypeIn gives you a number that your friends can call from any phone. You answer the call on your Skype system, see What you need.
- SkypeOut lets you call from Skype to landlines and mobile phones.
- Skype Voicemail takes messages for you when you’re offline or busy.
- Skype SMS lets you send SMS messages to mobile phones.