The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business

VOIP Provider Overview—Skype

Skype, acquired by eBay in October 2005 for $2.6 billion, can certainly be called the little company that could.

Founded by 2002 by Kazaa creators Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, Skype is a free VOIP software application currently being used by 150,000 NEW users a day!


Skype is a peer-to-peer program, meaning the people you call must have Skype installed too. Using the software is like using an instant messenger, such as MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger. Calls are easy to set up and free to any Skype user in the world.

You can also use the SkypeOut service make calls to regular phones for about 3 cents/minute to most places. To do this, you buy Skype credits—sort of like buying minutes on prepaid phone cards. As of May 15th, SkypeOut is now FREE to landlines and mobile phones anywhere in the US and Canada. Read more...

One of the advantages Skype has over other free VOIP software from a user point of view is the ease of installation and setup.

So What Does it Look Like?

Making a call is as easy as selecting someone from a list of contacts and then clicking the green phone button at the bottom of the screen. Skype's website is designed with non-techies in mind and has as an easy tutorial on their website that shows you all the features of the software.

New—May, 2006 Skype 2.5

The latest software release is Skype 2.5 which in introduces the Skypecasting and SMS support.

Skypecasting is  a live, moderated conversations between groups of up to 100 people.

SMS is sending text message to Skype contacts who have added their mobile numbers to their profile, or to any mobile phone that has SMS enabled. More on Skype 2.5...

Skype Products

Besides the FREE stuff, Skype has a few other products. Here's a quick summary:

  • SkypeOut—a low cost service for calling folks on traditional landline phones using Skype. You pay for SkypeOut by buying Skype credits. Rates are low: cost per minute to most worldwide locations is €0.017 Euro Cent or approximately $0.023 or £0.012.

    Attention: SkypeOut is Now (omgosh) Free in USA and Canada! Read more...
  • SkypeIn Beta—allows you to have a real phone number so that people can call you from a landline phone. A 12-month subscription to a SkypeIn telephone number is around £30.
  • Skype Voicemail—Lets you send voicemail messages to your Skype friends and contacts. Cost is £15 for the year, or free if you subscribe to SkypeIn

Skype also offers tempts you with other add ons, such as:

  • Skype phones and other gadgets
  • Ringtones, graphics, sounds
  • SkypeZones Beta - access to WiFi hotspots all over the world

Skype Reviews

For consumer reviews of Skype, check out the following sources:

Got Questions? Ask Skype Yourself

  •—Has email technical support, web-based technical support and online manuals.

Want to know More?

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