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Can Man (And Family) Live On Skype Alone?

The Road to Skype

Perhaps it started when I called AT&T and asked the folks there to reduce my cellular family plan to be competitive with T-Mobile and Verizon. After all, I figured that T-Mobile was offering more total voice/data/messaging service for about $50 less per month. A friend of mine had gotten his rates adjusted with a phone call, so why not me? But no, AT&T wouldn’t budge, perhaps because we’d gotten my wife a new BlackBerry in December under a fresh, shiny two-year contract. Knowing I was stuck between a rock and a $175 premature termination fee, they kindly bid me good day.

Okay, I thought, where do I come up with $175 in savings to counterbalance pulling the plug on ol’ Ma Bell if I so desired? That was when a friend happened to instant message me on Skype. Hmm...Skype.

We’d ditched our home landline many months ago and gone cellular-only, but that hadn’t been quite the coup I’d hoped. Turns out that a couple of particular family members on my wife’s side chew up a lot more minutes and text messages than I’d thought, resulting in plan overages and having to upgrade our service. Now the savings from going cell-only have practically evaporated. For two BlackBerry phones with unlimited data on AT&T, we’re paying nearly $200 per month.

A Vonage disaster two years ago had soured me on residential voice-over-IP (VoIP), but times change. Perhaps it was time to give VoIP another shot. I know there are many options in the market, and I was sorely tempted to give the MagicJack and Google Voice a whirl. However, given its market prominence, third-party support, and my natural desire to consolidate as many communication modes as possible under one interface and/or service, I decided to give Skype a shot. Just maybe, Skype could become my new “land line” and take the strain off of both my cellular plan and monthly budget.

        

  • dstigue
    You can also use google voice to control the flow of phone calls. Get a google number then have it go to skype and cell phone at the same time. Answer where appropriate.
    Reply
  • I think one of the devices that you should have checked out was the PSP. Skype on the psp using Wifi is great. The only bad part is that you have to purchase the headset, but if your playing socom or something like that you already have the headset. When I went to Korea on business, they have free Wifi at the ariport and I called home for free on my psp and it was frreeeeee!
    Reply
  • why the nokia n900 phone wont reconize #* when you have to use it to top up you cell ph
    Reply
  • acecombat
    Perhaps Tom's can do a similar comparison for the open standard SIP based phones? They can carry both audio and video depending on capabilities of each phone and would be a goood read for those of us who already have a SIP based phone server (Like me :P).
    Reply
  • Clintonio
    I have to keep in touch with my long distance fiancee who lives in the middle east. If it weren't for Skype, we'd have to go for many weeks without seeing or hearing each other. The money that I saved through Skype I am spending on plane tickets.
    My Skype setup is your standard laptop, webcam, headset setup. But on the go I use a Nokia E71. I use Fring, the other apps were dire. Fring does the job of having all of my IMs and phone calls in one place. Thanks to a relatively good 3G coverage near me, I only lose calls in the countryside. And, well, I can put up with that...
    Reply
  • You're forgetting Ooma, another Voip company that doesn't require a PC to work, and NO MONTLY CHARGES :)
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    spawnoculaYou're forgetting Ooma, another Voip company that doesn't require a PC to work, and NO MONTLY CHARGESOoma has some benefits (and also remember that Skype has no monthly charges for pc-to-pc calls) but the trouble is that if your friends aren't already using Ooma it is tough to get them to switch. Skype has the installed base for now...
    Reply
  • valid account
    We use a Zoom 5900 with our old Dell 700m with a set of Panasonic Dect 6.0's. It works fairly well.
    Reply
  • In response to Tomsguiderachel, concerning Ooma, there is no need for others to be on Ooma to use it yourself. Once you've installed it to your router and plugged in your normal telephones (wired or cordless), it works just like any other phone. The people you call don't need to have an Ooma device. All domestic calls are free and international calls are similar and even slightly cheaper than Skype.
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    mhainsIn response to Tomsguiderachel, concerning Ooma, there is no need for others to be on Ooma to use it yourself. Once you've installed it to your router and plugged in your normal telephones (wired or cordless), it works just like any other phone. The people you call don't need to have an Ooma device. All domestic calls are free and international calls are similar and even slightly cheaper than Skype.Thanks for the info. Might be worth a try for some people!
    Reply