By: Jim Edwards
Everywhere you turn phone companies offer 3 or 5-cent long distance phone calls, or even unlimited long distance for a flat fee monthly.
Now you can make reliable calls using the Internet for anywhere from 0 to 2.3-cents per minute.
Welcome to Skype, the Internet telephony company that has set the traditional telephone world on its ear.
Recently purchased by Ebay for 2.6 billion dollars, Skype stands ready to revolutionize worldwide voice communication simply because they enable you to carry on crystal clear voice communication with anyone else in the world with a either a phone or Internet connection.
What's the catch you ask?
Well, to make phone calls, you need a computer, a microphone, speakers, a modem, an Internet connection and the free Skype software you can download from www.skype.com
To make a free phone call, you need someone on the receiving end with a computer, Internet connection, and the Skype software installed.
To make a call from your computer to a land-based phone virtually anywhere in the world, you must pre-pay for calling minutes in blocks of 10 Euros (approximately $12 U.S.).
One block of calling minutes gets you about 500 minutes of calling time, or a little over 8 hours of talking time.
Skype uses a technology called IP telephony.
IP telephony first appeared commercially back in the lat 1990's with services like Dialpad.com, which initially offered phone calls from computers to land-based phones in exchange for watching online advertising.
This model soon failed, but the thought of making ultra-cheap phone calls through a computer did not.
And, as the recent mega sale of Skype reveals, a market now exists that can put Internet telephony to work on a grand scale, or at least large enough to make eBay pony up with a lot of cash and stock to give it a try.
Once you install the software, you log onto the service and can make phone calls to other Skype users through their computers at no charge.
You can set up a call list, much like an instant messaging "buddy list" so with a couple clicks of the mouse you can ring your friends up for a chat.
Or, if you pre-pay for calling minutes, you can enter in the country code and phone number of your pals, click a button, and their phone or cell phone will ring.
Skype also allows you to hold conference calls with up to 4 other people at the same time, making it easy to hold group meetings.
Skype includes a group chat feature which allows you to hold a group chat session with up to 48 other people at the same time... excellent for "webinars" or even planning that next family reunion.
Skype also allows you to transfer files to and from other users, perfect for sharing photos, music and short video clips with your pals.
Tip: Get a good headset microphone.
It makes using the service more enjoyable and also eliminates the echo created by your own speakers feeding back into your PC's microphone.
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and co-author of an amazing program that teaches you how to use free articles to quickly drive thousands of targeted visitors to your website, affiliate links, or blogs... without spending a dime on advertising! www.turnwordsintotraffic.com
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