Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Skype Experiment

A while back, I wrote about that I was playing with Skype . For me, this isn't going to be one of those check it out and drop it things - Skype is pretty cool.

Skype is cheap
With the Skype Unlimited Plan for less than $30 a year, you can make calls to Canada and the US. I pay that much for my local (long distance not included) phone each month!

Skype to Skype calls are free
My Dad was in Finland and I wanted to talk to him about some Excel functionality. He doesn't have Skype (yet), but the people he was staying with were Skype users. So, we arranged a time that we would both be around (the 11 hour time difference can be a stumbling block) and we got connected and had a 30 minute phone call for free!

Skype calls that you have to pay for are pretty cheap
Skype's rates are very good. You can check out their own rate pages, but the rates are measured in pennies, not dimes, almost no matter where you call to.

Skype calls have pretty good quality
On the call to my Dad in Finland, we had a great connection. On many calls, when both parties are silent, the line is so free of static that I actually wonder if I was disconnected. I've even made calls with a friend over the satellite connection at remote scientific monitoring stations. After I called my Dad in Finland, I called my Mom on her cell phone (mobile to mobile calling is free with Cingular). The international, Voice Over IP call had a better connection that the domestic cell phone call.

Skype can do conference calls
As one of the included features, you can use Skype to make conference calls. And there is no complicated flashing of the phone (who hasn't held it down too long and hung up on the other people). And as an added benefit, the specific person talking is highlighted in the conference call list on the Skype application.

Skype is portable
Where ever I have a wi-fi connection, I have Skype. It will also run off a USB drive, either one that is U3 or PortableApps enabled. I had a conference call scheduled right after my flight arrived in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I know that wi-fi is free there, so I made the call from the Las Vegas airport. Sure, I could have used my cell phone, but that would have used 60 minutes. This call used no minutes that I had to pay anthing for.

Learnings from my first few weeks with Skype
1. Not many of my friends use Skype.
2. The headset makes a world of difference
3. Skype is a good IM client

Check out Skype. Try it out (they even give you about 5 minutes of free calls). I'm still trying to figure out how it fits in from a business standpoint. If you are a web-worker, it is most definitely applicable!

I'm beau.raines on Skype so, if you are one of my faithful readers, drop me a line!


Mark said...

I've been thinking of trying out VOIP, especially when we were still planning on moving to Sweden. (I'm happy to hear that calls to Scandinavia are such good quality.) I think you've convinced me to give Skype a whirl. How much do the headsets cost?

Beau said...

I spent $25 on a headset at Radio Shack, you can find them cheaper (and probably just as good) and you can spend $50-80 for a fancy schmancy USB headset.

I just found mine on Amazon for 14 bucks, though.