Monday, January 28, 2008

Going Beyond the Basics with (Not Necessarily Free) Services

Skype does many things right out of the virtual box. But you can add a full complement of features and services provided by Skype and third-party companies.

Skyping in from a phone
How can people call you from a regular telephone if Skype runs on a computer? Well, for a small fee you can get a SkypeIn phone number that anyone with a regular phone can call. There are no surcharges of any kind. The person calling you calls your SkypeIn number. As far as he or she is concerned, the call is being made to a regular phone number. The charges incurred by the call amount to whatever they would be to make a call to a phone in your area code. When you sign in to Skype, SkypeIn calls are automatically routed to you. You can be anywhere on the planet. If you are connected to Skype, the calls get to you just the same.

Skyping out to a phone
Not only can people call into Skype using an ordinary telephone, but you can call out to anyone on a landline or mobile phone using SkypeOut. Making a call from a computer to a telephone is as easy as entering the phone number and pressing Enter. The charge for the call appears on your screen (if there is a charge; some calls are free). How do you pay for this? Buy a block of minutes with SkypeOut credits. When your SkypeOut minutes are used up, you can purchase more.

Getting voicemail
What’s phone service without voicemail? You can add voicemail to Skype with Skype Voicemail (a plain-vanilla service), or with Pamela or Skylook (both are packed with features). Skype Voicemail is bundled with SkypeIn. If you want Skype Voicemail without SkypeIn, you can purchase it with Skype credit. Pamela and Skylook have “lite” versions for free, but the good stuff costs a few dollars (really, just a few).

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