The wonders of Skype

When I first came to the USA ten years ago (yes, its been ten years), I used to spend more than 50 cents per minute calling India. A fair proportion of my small graduate research assistant salary was spent on international calls. Over the years, the phone call rate to India has progressively gone down (currently I am paying 11 cents for phone calls). Since i was introduced to Skype (which uses P2P technology to offer free internet calling), the cost for much of my international calling has reduced to zero. The sound quality is far superior than for most international phone calls. There is almost no time lag (which makes a huge difference).

Right now, I am in Boston for the Internet and Society conference. From my hotel room, I have already had two international conversations, one with someone in India, another with someone in Brazil. I am also using Skype for communicating with my colleagues back in California (why pay roaming charges on a cell phone, or outrageous hotel phone bills).

Apart from the slight disruption in sleep cycle (with the three hour difference), I can work from my hotel room in Boston, as if I was back at my desk in California. And that’s primarily because of Skype. The sound quality on Yahoo and MSN audio chat just does not measure up. Also, I like Skype’s use of the phone icon for showing active calls, and the sound of the phone ring when someone calls you on Skype. I even like seeing the number of Skype users online (1,002,689 right now).

Yes, there are some usability issues. And the Skype conferencing facility still needs a lot of work. But Skype is living proof of the fact that usefulness can trump everything else. Skype fulfills a real, long-unmet need, and fulfills it better than anything else out there.

If you are still using Yahoo/MSN/AOL for voice chats, then give Skype a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference.

40 thoughts on “The wonders of Skype

  1. Hi Rashmi,

    IF you don’t mind a nuts ‘n bolts type of question, do the current broadband packages in India allow for unlimited use of Skype-Skyp ecalling? Or do your bytes downloaded start to add up with a lot of Skype calls, and you end up exceeding your total allowable download quota for the month (I understand some plans are set up this way).

    I would guess that Voice over IP does not entail much of a byte transfer for it to be an issue, but it would be nice to know for sure.


    New York

  2. So far, its not been a problem. But our heavy usage is with people who have a business broadband connection in India (though not a T1 line, just the basic business DSL). That has not lead to excess usage, even though we use it daily, quite heavily for project collaboration.

    We have communicated less frequently with people with a personal DSL connection, and that has been fine as well.

    Skype has quite a good user forum, where someone might be able to give you more specifics about this.

  3. There are no bandwidth or usage limits on Skype – it’s ‘peer-to-peer’, which means the actual voice data just goes straight from you to who you’re calling, without going through any central server that someone might want to charge you for. So no worries there :-)

  4. That is not true Chris. Even though it is P2P, your ISP can control how many bytes are down/uploaded. However, many personal DSL plans have not implemented the bytes counting.

  5. Hello everyone,

    This is Yusuf Ali from India,I would really appreciate if someone tell me how to buy or get the skype out connection with telephone insturment in India

  6. I’m using skype. No problem at all. I purchase both skype in and skype out so that i have my own number, i can call to telephones in india.

    skype out calling rates are little higher than some voip vendors so i purchased those toll free numbers and calling from my skype out. Isnt that cool.

    Both convinience of telephone at cheaper price. My parents could call me on my skype with the skype in number i gave them. So basically my laptop is a wireless, telephone (mobile u could say).

  7. HI!
    I just Wanted To know that does skype in India supports calling from a Skype Device not and COMP But its Own Device to Another Device In US.
    I Dont Know as India has some problems of carrying bytes from net to phone. U still have to pay…
    So does skype Hold Good in India’s case even without comp to comp

  8. Hi Friends,

    Am a Business Development Exec in an Indian IT firm, desperately looking for a Skype dealer in India, preferably Bombay. Would highly appreciate if anyone can help me out on this.

  9. Hi,

    1) Vincent….Skype does store contact details on server now…so, even if you change PCs you can use Skype easily…not annoying any more…

    2) Prashant….there are no dealers for Skype in Mumbai…they dont normally operate through dealers….its after all internet-based…visit more info….

    3) Shekar….Skype bills in Euros mainly, and also in USD/GBP etc. and other currencies…You can use PayPal to pay as well…

    4) Kannan….There are no Skype dealers in India…but you can buy Skype accessories from Skype store online and pay for that by a credit card or PayPal…..

    5) Nitin….Yes, phones which will use Skype without a PC are coming….from vendors like netgear…already launched in trade shows and will soon be available for purchase from…But, this will again be using a broadband/DSL connection to connect…

    Skype rocks!!!


  10. I really really hope they offer Skype-In number for India so that my family and friends can call me without going to cybercafes.

  11. Hi,

    I am new to skype. I am a grad student at NEU Boston. I want to more about skype-in, skype-out numbers. If I am not wrong, can I buy a skype-out number for my parents in India?

    I would br thankful, if you could give me some details.

  12. Skype is the only provider providing such a clear service. Trust me, I’ve tried Yahoo, MSN, Gtalk. No match for Skype.

    As far as trusting these guys with your Credit Card details, you can do it. They don’t cheat unlike most of our Indian providers..

    Cheers :) :)
    Another Skype Veteran..

  13. When I am trying to goto I am getting follwing messege can any one give me solution. I tried by window firewall in off mode and changing proxy server also but same problem.

    Could u please provide solution

    Network Error (tcp_error)

    A communication error occurred: “Operation timed out”
    The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time.

    For assistance, contact Customer Support.

  14. John i dont think skype offers toll free numbers for businesses but yeh there are lots of other companies which offer toll free numbers but there is a very limited choice of countries for now like you can get a toll free number in states , uk , canaga and some more western europien countries and some other countries.

  15. Dont know why every one is after skype, probbably coz of the brand name but trust me there are so many voip providers like stanaphone is the one i been using for the last one year and other then that net2phone avaya and vonage are pretty good :)

  16. I think SKYPE REALLY EXPENSIVE TO CALL INDIA, if you go with relicance they charge you $.12 cents per min. skype charges you .17 cents per mins that this is from pc to phone relicance is from any where you can even you your pay phone and you don’t have to pay to payphone to use this.if skype was like 7 or 8 cents per mins i would think of buying it.

    skype is just not right to expensive and you only make phone calls from net.

    why not use reliance which is cheaper than skype and you can make calls from any where even using skype to dial 1800 number and you pin.

    skype is just over charging to call india.

    people who uses skype to call india must be really dumb.

  17. Hello,

    Skype has now introduced SMS. You can send SMS to domestic and international mobile phones with the new version Skype 2.5 (now in Beta, available to download from An SMS to India costs roughly 7-8 cents.

    Skype has also made all calls to US/Canada phones and cell phones FREE as long as the caller is also in the United States/Canada. That is, if I am in LA, I can call phones/cell phones in New York or Toronto for free.


    Skype Veteran

  18. I am still not clear.

    Can I make a PC to PC call from U.S. to India with skype? For free?

    I have heard that it is not possible — something to do with India not allowing VOIP.

  19. Hi

    If one has Skype Chat-cord or phone adapter, they can talk to any one in the world with normal corded / cordless phone just like that with absolute clarity, without incurring a single paise through the chat messenger (Skype, Yahoo, MSN,ICQ to mention few). It is not available in India.

    Try for that.

    Take care,

    Rangarajan Venkatachari

  20. has any one tried globe7 thing its newly launched. dont know about the prices never looked into it but you get a lot of free call time when you sign up or refer some one to use it and ive called india a lot of times using it just to ask my parents to come online and turn skype on ha ha ha.give it a try you will like it

  21. Hi Guys,

    Is there any other services similar to paypermonth fixed amount and make call to all over india to any phones?

    EG: VOIP phones used in call centres where its free to make any nunmber of call to US? Canada with fixed payment of $24 per month.


  22. Hi Nujin Jacob,

    There is no such service in India where you can call all phones for a fixed amount there may be in future but not yet.

  23. Dear Rashmi or anyone reading this,
    I tried to use skype – I registered on the 23rd July 2006. It says my account is blocked. I used it to call my family in Germany from here in India. But in the evening it was blocked. Is it true that you cant dial landlines through skype in India? If someone knows the answer please let me know. My user name is bunty_av. Now wehn I try to enter that it says user name invalid.
    Can somebody help me?

  24. I was in India visiting folks this summer. One cool thing that I did do was get skype for my mom . They have a BSNL broadband at home which gets them a 256kbs download and 128kbps upload and Skype works fine.No lag no hiss almost as good as Reliance/WQN which I used before.

    I bought a Virginia Skype IN number for them and a Linksys CIT200 Skype Cordless Phone for them. So its like having a virtual US number sitting in India. It costs 2.1C/min to call US, translates to something just short of a Rupee. So my mom calls my cell up , spends a rupee and I call her back , incoming is free on skype and I have tons of minutes on my cell.

    Considering the fact I was spending upto $60.00/month on calling home, whats $3/month to keep the US number leased and paying $10.00 to recharge Skype Out every few months.

    Getting the cordless Linksys Skype fone has been awesome, the build quality and reliability is great.

    One caveat: Make sure you have a unlimited use plan in India or you might rack up some really heavy charges if you exceed you quota.

  25. I called up my DSL Broadband Service provider(Airtel) to clarify whether making PC to PC calls using skype were free during the ‘night free surfing hours’. I was absolutely shocked to hear that I have to pay call charges to Airtel for any calls I make using the internet at the rates applicable to the place I was calling(STD and ISD rates!)……….I have still not clarified with them whether incoming is free…… this true?

    Then I do not understand the wonders of Skype for Indian users-if you have to pay the same call charges using skype(that too to another PC)………why would anyone in India use skype-Is there any internet service provider in India who allows free PC to PC Skype calls? Do I need to buy a special phone for making free PC to PC calls?
    One more query……..does someone really answer these questions … and when can you get the answers…thanks…

  26. Hai all,

    Can any one tell me whether the SKYPE makes internet usage more.. which in turn costs more internet usgae bill..??

  27. Hi all,

    Can any one tell me whether the SKYPE makes internet usage more, which inturn costs more in internet usage bills.

  28. San,

    skype will use up data. whether or not you will be charged depends on how you are billed. if you have broadband, the package is generally unlimited (with the exception of fair usage policies), but with the almost-obsolete dial-up, you are charged for how long you are connected to the internet.

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