Many people know that Skype is the free program that includes instant messaging, voice calling, video chat and conferencing, and that it works on most computers and many portable devices and phones. You can even use Skype to make telephone calls on an iPod. Most people really like Skype, and Skype is now a VOIP (voice over the internet) telephone company, and Microsoft bought Skype years ago.
Many people have cut back on, or given up their land-line telephone numbers for reasons that include convenience, savings, and features; and have moved to internet or wireless telephone numbers. I gave up my old telco land line long ago, however I had Comcast’s digital voice, which is usually very reliable. (Now, I use OOMA).
However, Comcast digital voice has a very limited number of calls that can be blocked, and there is no good way to manage your blocked-calls list there. For my business, I recently bought a Skype local phone number with their unlimited outgoing calling option. The reasons I moved primarily to the Skype telephone solution for my business include:
1) I get a lot of calls, and more than a few junk calls; and wanted an easy way to block junk callers, by pressing the (e.g.) control key.
2) I wanted better control and management of my voicemails, with the ability to save them to my computer.
3) It is hard to turn modern phones off. At night when all I get is crazy callers, I just quit Skype, I do not have to turn my phone off.
4) I wanted another telephone line, and I am near my computer or a mobile device most of my waking hours.
I bought a cheap telephone headset that was advertised on Skype’s website, from Amazon. For my telephone service, I bought a Skype local telephone number with unlimited calls in and out; and I really like it. Skype was purchased by Microsoft, and so far, that has not been a problem, it works better than ever. I am a judgment referral expert (a judgment broker) who writes a lot. These are the advantages of getting a Skype telephone number with unlimited outgoing calls:
1) Skype is cheap and it works well. All you need is a modern computer or device, having a wireless or wired internet connection. Some people say Skype does not work well on a wireless internet connection, however my experience is that it consistently works fine on wireless.
2) Using Skype for your telephone calls and calling, keeps your other telephone line open.
3) Skype has unlimited blocking of Skype and telephone callers that you do not want. BIG UPDATE – starting in early 2013, the Skype software changed to only let you block number in your contact list. They refuse to admit they killed this feature, it is so sad how big companies take away features because they stop caring or understanding their customer’s needs.
Woo Hoo, finally in July 2013 they put this feature back in, so now we can block junk callers and report abuse too, thanks Skype! A bug remains, when a blocked number call you, you still get an email saying you got a voice mail, then you open Skype and see it was just a blocked number.
4) Skype can be used with recording software, such as ECamm’s Call Recorder, to save calls and/or voicemails to your computer.
Saving your own incoming voicemails is probably legal everywhere. I am not a lawyer, and recording internet calls may not be legal in some jurisdictions. Legal or not, make sure to record calls only for your own purposes, and do not share private calls with anyone. Consult a lawyer if you are not sure that recording internet calls for your own reference is legal. Often, one cannot go through a day without breaking one minor law or another.
5) It is easy to use a cheap headset with Skype, for hands-free telephone calls with improved sound quality.
The disadvantages of using a Skype local telephone number with incoming and outgoing calls include:
1) Skype requires your computer and internet to be working.
2) Skype usually limits you to staying near your computer or mobile device.
3) Skype’s program does not put dashes in telephone numbers shown, so phone numbers will show up in the format of 14088404610.
4) Skype does not elegantly handle concurrent multiple incoming calls. Even if you have “send incoming calls to voicemail” selected, new calls still ring while you are on a current call.
5) It is not as easy to send faxes with a Skype number, as it is with Comcast digital voice or any land line.
6) Skype’s voicemail notifications by email often arrive several hours after the voicemails are left. Skype’s voicemails do not include audio-to-text translations, and Skype’s voicemail settings offer no control over how many second or rings go by, before incoming Skype calls go to voicemail.
Despite some annoyances, the Skype number with unlimited outgoing calls, has worked out well for me. Of course, Skype “cannot be used to call 911”. Despite that information:
1) I do not want to test whether this is true or not, and I do not recommend dialing 911 for test purposes.
2) If it does work, the 911 response team would probably not be able to easily find out where you are calling from, which is not what you want in an emergency situation.
3) Skype or not, you can look up, and in an emergency call, the regular 10-digit local emergency phone numbers of your local fire or police department.
4) You can use some other telephone line to call 911.
Another factor is when your power goes out. For most people when the power goes out they lose their internet connection, so you still need a land line or a cell phone to call your power company. I always call the power company when my power goes out, several times, and the power company usually says I am the first person to call about the outage.
Oh well, on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Skype emailed me there was “unauthorized activity on my account and locked it. They have no support telephone number and Skype’s web site asks questions I cannot answer, such as which credit card I used to open my account years ago. Oh well, Goodbye Skype. The lesson I learned is NEVER count on Skype.