A little program called 'Skype' is revolutionising the way we communicate, offering the promise that "you can talk to anyone, anywhere for free. Forever." The basic premise of Skype is enabling people to have a conversation via the internet, rather than across traditional phone lines. Once you have downloaded Skype free from the internet, you can ‘call’ other computers that also have Skype installed and, because it’s across the internet between computers, it doesn’t cost a cent.
Call quality can depend on your internet connection and computer, and it does seem to work better if you have a designated headset, but these can be purchased from somewhere like Harvey Norman or Harris Technology (or through us) from about $20.
One of the slightly more advanced features of the program allows you to call a normal phone number from your computer at a significantly reduced rate than calling from your phone (we called Annie’s sister in the States last week and it cost $1.00 for a 36 minute call to her
mobile phone). To do this, you need to use a credit card to purchase call credit on your account. Skype also has more free features such as instant messaging (like MSN Messenger) so you can ‘chat’ via typing, rather than speaking.
For those with friends and family across the other side of the world, Skype is making keeping in touch easier and cheaper. It can also be a great way to communicate if your business operates internationally, to keep those call costs down. Skype is definitely worth investigating further at www.skype.com, or let us know if you need any further tips.