Guide to Skype

What is Skype and how does it work?

Skype in videocall mode

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What is Skype

Skype is a program that uses internet to make free worldwide calls and video calls between computers, smartphones and mobile devices, to chat and transfer files. It has about 280 million active users per month and since 2011 belongs to Microsoft Corporation.

How Skype works

With Skype we can call from our computer any other Skype user in the world connected to internet, landlines and mobile phones.

Calls between computers are completely free and the same applies to video calls with the webcam, chats or to sending files.

Calls to landlines worldwide are usually charged at low rates of about 2 cents per minute, while calls to mobile telephones worldwide are charged at rates comparable to national mobile phone calls. This makes Skype particularly convenient especially to call landlines and mobile phones abroad.

To start you only need to download the free software from Skype website and to follow the simple instructions to install it. Then choose your user name and password and you are ready to call.

There are no activation costs.

Tools for the calls

Skype at the computer Skype headphones and microphone Skype phones

To make calls you can use either the computer's microphone and speakers or a headset. The best quality is optained with the second solution.

It is possible to use cordless phones designed especially for Skype (see below where to find them) that allow to call without the computer.

How much it costs

The software is free and there are no activation costs. Calls, videocalls and chats between computers are also completely free.

Calls toward landlines, mobile phones and texts are charged (the service is called SkypeOut) but the cost is very low because data travels through internet for most of the way.

At the time of writing, prices toward landlines of most countries like Britain, France, Germany, United States, Canada, Australia, Spain and Austria are €0,02 per minute included tax (€1,20 per hour). The complete list of all tariffs is available on this page (link).

It is possible to top-up online on the website of SkypeOut (like a top-up for a mobile phone) or to opt for fixed price monthly subscriptions (not long term contracts) for unlimited calls.

Immagine della schermata dei prezzi degli abbonamenti a canone fisso Skype
Screenshot of Skype website with subscriptions' prices (click to access Skype website)

Skype on the cordless or mobile phone

Skype Phone White Skype cordless Skype Cordless

On the market it is possible to find cordless phones designed for Skype that work like normal phones and allow to call without a computer. They can be purchased directly on Skype online store.

Skype for mobile phones

Skype can also be installed and used on mobile phones with Java.

Where to get Skype

The software can be downloaded directly on the website of Skype.

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