With the first public beta release in 2003, 8-year old Skype is a Godsend for anyone who is looking for a low-cost alternative to their home phone. Dubbed as the original mainstream voice-over-ip service, this eBay owned company does more than act as phone. Skype is a window to a suite of tools that we can all use to stay connected through small business.
If you don’t have a Skype account, go ahead and create one. It is free. You’ll need a mic and set of speakers to do the basics of making calls.
The casual observer will note that sitting in front of a computer (or having the computer on all the time) can be a big transition from a regular line, but you can easily take it to the next level with a dedicated VOIP Skype phone. I currently have a Linksys CIT400 (Arstechnica review) and it works well. For $30 a year, you can make unlimited calls to U.S. numbers just like a regular phone…and without the need for your computer to stay on.
A few upgrades I have opted for are Skype voicemail, a SkypeIn number (so clients can call a local number), SkypeForwarding to my cell phone if I’m not available (which requires your computer to be on, unfortunately), and conference calling. In one fail swoop, I have a full-featured suite of phone options for less than $50 bucks a year.
The biggest downside is that if you’re pushing everything through your internet connection. If your power ever goes out or if you want local 911 coverage, you won’t be able to use the Skype service. With the ubiquity, however, of mobile phones, this seems like a moot point, but it is something to consider.
Bonus Tip: If you have a built-in webcam, Skype video conferencing works flawlessly! If you want to talk to someone with a Skype account, it’s completely free!Category: Jargon, web 2.0 | Tags: linksys CIT400, Skype