Cell phones bills are easy to understand (not including all those mystery taxes) because youre charged one rate to call anywhere in the United States. But if you don't have a cell phone, and are using a home landline to make a lot of long distance calls its a different story. Chances are, youve been surprised by the amount the phone company charges to make a call between your home and another one on the other side of the country. Fortunately, these days its a lot easier to make long distance calls without breaking the bank. Skype has made international and long distance calling a lot cheaper and easier.
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What Is Skype?
Skype is a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) program that can be used on your computer or smartphone. VoIP looks and acts like a regular phone but sends the voice (and video) signals over the Internet instead of using a traditional copper phone lines. For that reason, VoIP has become a common replacement for traditional phone service. Since Skype uses the latest digital technology instead of phone lines, it opens up possibilities for communications that wouldnt be possible on a regular phone network.
Its incredibly easy to communicate between two people both using Skype. First, you need a Skype account, which is free. Next, you need an Internet connection. How you communicate depends a little bit on the hardware you have. Users need a computer with a microphone for a voice conversation and a webcam to get video. The Skype program also has a simple text chat capability. Most laptops sold these days come with a built-in microphone and webcam, which makes using Skype more attractive.
The Price To Talk
One of the reasons Skype is so popular is that Skype users can communicate between each other for free. It doesnt matter where you are in the world. In order to initiate the conversation, all you need is the user name of the person youd like to communicate with and agree on a time to do it. Simply click on their name in your contact list and start talking. Its as easy as that.
What do you do if the other person doesnt have Skype?
You can still make phone calls to anyone else in the world, even if they dont have Skype. The program has the ability to use your computer to call any kind of phone, anywhere in the world, for rates lower than a traditional phone line.
For example, if you have a relative in China that youd like to talk to regularly, using a long-distance plan from a major company like AT&T will cost 11 cents per minute on a landline. With Skype it would only cost 2.3 cents per minute almost five times cheaper than a landline.
Not only do they have much cheaper per minute rates, but Skype also offers unlimited U.S. calling plans for $2.99 a month and worldwide plans for $13.99. You can even download the Skype app and use it to make calls from your smartphone.
The company does point out, however, that the program does not replace your phone, requires an Internet connection, wont let you pick your own phone number, and cant make emergency calls.
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