Beating Long Distance With Skype

Cell phone bills are easy to understand (not including all those mystery taxes) because you're 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 it's a different story. Chances are, you've 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 it's 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 with an internet connection or a 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 wouldn't be possible on a regular phone network.

Using Skype

It's incredibly easy for two people to communicate 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 doesn't matter where you are in the world. In order to initiate the conversation, all you need is the user name of the person you'd like to communicate with and agree on a time to do it. Simply click on their name in your contact list and start talking. It's as easy as that.

What do you do if the other person doesn't have Skype?

You can still make phone calls to anyone else in the world, even if they don't 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 you'd 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, won't let you pick your own phone number, and can't make emergency calls. If you're looking for an internet plan so that you can Skype your friends and family, click here to search for the internet providers that are available in your area.

SEE ALSO: All About Mobile Broadband

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