As voice over internet communications continues expand at a rapid pace, more and more technology vendors are developing both hardware and software based solutions to meet the growing demand. One software solution which I believe is particularly noteworthy among the herd is a program called Skype. Skype is a richly featured IP based communications client which allows you to call, chat, exchange files, and video conference with other Skype users anywhere on the internet for free.
If you want the ability to call regular phones, you can add a service called Skype-Out and pay only 2.1Â¢ per minute to over 30 global destinations. Or, you can purchase the Skype Unlimited package, where you receive 12 months of unlimited calls to any phone within the US and Canada for only $29.95 per year! Skype also sells a feature called Skype-In, where you get a real phone number in any area code of your choice that will allow people to call you from a regular telephone anywhere you are connected to the internet. For example, I recently purchased a Skype-In number with area code 831 (Santa Cruz, CA), where many of my family and friends reside. Now all they have to do to call me is pick up the phone, dial as if they are dialing a local phone number, and voila, my Skype phone rings here in Milwaukee, WI as if I was just down the street! The secret is that once their local phone call is routed to the internet, I could be anywhere in world and as long as I have internet access I can take the call and my friends and family will pay absolutely no long distance charges!
Another really nifty feature with the new Skype 3.0 release is called Skype extension, a browser plugin that will automatically create call links on phone numbers displayed in web pages. If say, you are browsing for a store online and find a directory listing with a phone number, you can just click on it and Skype will automatically begin dialing out to the store, (assuming you have purchased Skype-Out minutes). Skype also boasts tons of collaborative features where you can join various discussion groups, host conference calls, and so much more. Visit www.skype.com, and check out this wonderful Internet communications program!