Skype – Free Long-Distance Phone Calls Anywhere on the Planet

:: While browsing through Time Out New York #437, I read an article called Talk is Cheap – No-hype Skype lets you make long distance calls for free, by Lisa Sweetingham.

    Skype is a Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, program that transforms your voice into data and then transmits it over the Net. The London-based Skype company joins a string of other VoIP players: Net2Phone and Vonage (see TONY 400) already offer VoIP plans, and Time Warner Cable and Verizon are gearing up to enter the game. But only Skype lets you make calls to anywhere for free—all you have to do is download the beta program.

    Developed by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the two Swedes who created the peer-to-peer file-sharing program KaZaA, Skype is like Friendster for your phone—but no invitations are needed. And while commercial VoIP providers use a centralized system of computers to route calls, Skype cuts out the middle man; your computer calls your contact’s computer directly.

    Skype works on PCs running Windows 2000 or XP operating systems (Apple users are out of luck for now, but Zennström says they may introduce Apple platforms in the future), and the download takes about 30 seconds. Just plug a mike/speaker headset into your computer (about $30 at any electronics store) or go speakerphone-style with a mike and your computer’s internal sound card, and you’re ready to chat it up with your long-distance Skype friends.

Naturally, I am curious to see how good it is. If you download the program, let me know. The latest version allows for conference calls for up to five people at once. The one weakness, as mentioned in the article, is that you can only call other Skype users for now – to me, not a huge issue. If you have friends or family that you call regularly, and you want to save $$$, this might be the solution. I’m looking forward to trying it as soon as one of you loads it on your machine.

4 Responses to “Skype – Free Long-Distance Phone Calls Anywhere on the Planet”

  1. kelly Says:

    Have you ever heard of iChat, Randy? We use it at my studio job to telecommute with co workers in Toronto and it’s amazing. Webcam + audio, or just one at a time if you prefer. You just have to pay for the iChat webcam and have an Apple, of course, but I’m so far quite impressed with it.

    Also, why are you going to wait for one of us to download it? You don’t want it THAT bad?

  2. randy Says:

    Haven’t heard of iChat, but I don’t have an Apple, and don’t want to pay for this type of service. I’m waiting for someone I know to download Skype so that we can both try it. – Randy

  3. Jena Says:

    Heh. I’d love to try it, but I’m guessing that it wouldn’t work to well at 28.8… Probably wouldn’t download in 30 sedonds, either. 🙂 I’ll download it when I get home and dig out my headset/mike.

  4. thiphakone Says:

    great

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