Calls to other Skype users are free, but if your contact doesn’t have Skype you can use SkypeOut to ring their landline or mobile phone. The service costs money, however, and you’ll first need to buy Skype Credit.
- Go to the Help menu and select Skype Help, then Buy Skype Credit.
- This presents you with another Wizard that steps you through buying Skype Credit online (minimum $16). The credit expires after 180 days of inactivity — which means 180 days after your last successfully connected PSTN (see Dictionary) call.
As with Skype-to-Skype calls, you can set up a list of contacts for SkypeOut. It will show up as a separate list.
You can use Skype Credit to call a contact or, in the case of a mobile number, send an SMS text message of up to 160 characters directly from the Skype window.
To check out the list of SkypeOut rates to destinations all over the world go to www.skype.com/products/skypeout and select Rates from the left-hand panel.
If you want others to be able to call you from normal landline and mobile phones, you need a SkypeIn number. SkypeIn costs $16 for three months and $50 for 12 months and includes voicemail.
You need to install Skype before you can buy a SkypeIn number, then in Skype go to the Tools menu and select SkypeIn. This will take you to a web page where you log in with your Skype name and password and can purchase a SkypeIn number online.
New services coming
If you’re on a Skype user on the move, the new Skype Zones service will let you access Skype and make calls for a fee from around 20,000 Skype-friendly wireless hotspots around the world, including around 400 in Australia.
The software is still in its trial stage, so it’s not quite finished and isn’t yet available to everyone. A list of Australian Skype Zones is available at www.skype.com/products/skypezones. Click on Find Skype Zones and select Australia from the list of countries.
Skype has also announced that Australia will be one of 24 countries to get Skype Pro, an all-in-one, low cost domestic call plan from Skype to regular landline and mobile phones.
The service will include a connection fee of a few cents per call, but no per-minute charges. It’s also expected to include free voicemail and a discounted SkypeIn number. Exact pricing wasn’t available at the time of writing, but monthly fees are expected to be less than $10. Skype Pro, is expected to be launched in Australia around mid-year.
Meanwhile, in version 3.1 for Windows, Skype has three major new features. Send Money lets users transfer funds to each other, while Skype Prime Beta lets you earn money by charging other Skype users for advice. Both features work by linking your Skype account to an account with PayPal, an online money transfer service.
Skype Find lets you search for local businesses and recommend your favourites to the Skype community.