SkypeOut for FREE

Skype is a little program for making free calls within the US and Canada to all phones until the end of the year. Skype to Skype calls anywhere in the world are also free. It’s easy to download and use, and works with most computers. (from MsticAzn)

That’s right, till 12/31/2006, you can make any calls from your PC through Skype to any phone number in the U.S. and Canada for FREE.

There’s really nothing more to say about that, well besides some idiot was trying to convince me that Windows Live Messenger was better because it made FREE calls to any other Windows Live Messenger user and it ONLY costs 2¢ a minute for any outgoing call within the USA (maybe Canada too) through a contract with Verizon. Then when they realized their mistake, they tried to convince me Skype was out to get me and trick me because they’re taking a hit for every outgoing call. He even pointed out the following clause from Skype’s TOS:

Free Calls in the US and Canada: Until December 31st 2006, Skype is offering free SkypeOut calls from the US and Canada to US and Canadian mobile and landline telephone numbers. In return for offering this, Skype asks that You use the product sensibly and don’t abuse the free offer. Skype reminds You that it does not allow You to resell SkypeOut and that if Skype does see systematic or intentional misuse, it reserves the right to terminate your access to your Account immediately in accordance with clause 12.3 below.

He also brought up the fact they’re trying to tie me in and it’d be difficult to import and export contacts, etc. I don’t know what type of weed this guy was smoking, but I want some of it (maybe not). I was going to respond to his email, but others came and pointed out flaws in his logic.

Also to note, SkypeIn only costs €30 for 12 months. That’s about US$39 or $3.25/mo. What SkypeIn is that you can purchase a local (or even a non-local number) and anyone calls that number would reach you through Skype. Someone in the MS thread noted they purchased a number in Hong Kong so his friends and relative in Hong Kong could make local calls to him, which was interesting. If you want to try out the service first before locking in on a 1yr contract, they have a 3 month plan for €10 (~US$13 or $4.33/mo) which isn’t bad considering I was paying Verizon $25/mo when I had it.

The only bad part about Skype is that it doesn’t use the normal SIP protocols, so phone adapters like the Linksys PAP2 don’t work with it and you’ll need to purchase Skype-Ready products.

Someone on /. also pointed out SIPphone which is actually a bit cheaper than Skype ($12.00 for 3 months, or $35.00 for 12 months), but their area codes are a lot more limited. Then again, I don’t really know what area codes Skype is offering, but I would’ve expected more than this.

The last service I’d like to introduce is IPKall, the one I’ve been using and awesome for any folks living around the Seattle area. This service is provided for free and anyone (even those not living in or around Seattle or even in the USA) can use it. The area codes they provide are 206, 253, 360, and 425 and when you combine this with FWD or MutualPhone, you basically get completely free incoming calls. I’m not too sure about MutualPhone since I personally haven’t used it, but it actually looks like you can make outgoing calls for a small fee. FWD only allows incoming calls and outgoing calls to other SIP users. What IPKall does is connect a real phone number to a SIP number and FWD provides that SIP number that IPKall can forward to. It’s pretty neat and you get free voice mail too where if you don’t pick up the phone after 60 seconds (configurable), it’ll forward the caller to a answering machine and they’ll automatically email you the message he/she left to your email box. If you check out their forums, there’s also a bunch of other SIP providers you can use and other neat tricks you can do.

So I only make outgoing calls with my cellphone and have a real phone for people to reach me. This saves me $25 x 12 = $300 a year.

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