June 22, 2006

Skype In

Skype have just launched SkypeIn, their latest value-added service in Australia. The SkypeIn service takes Skype to the next level by giving you a local number attached to your Skype account. If people call your local SkypeIn number (a regular, local phone number) they can contact to you anywhere around the world via your computer and Skype account. For example, if you live in Melbourne but are overseas on business with your computer, friends in Melbourne can dial your local number and contact you on your computer for the price of a local call. If you aren't online they can leave a voicemail that you can access when you get online.

To get going you'll need to download Skype and signup for a free account - if you don't already have one when you first launch Skype you will be prompted to get one. Once you've set up Skype attaching a SkypeIn number is easy. Just log in to your account at www.skype.com and select 'Buy Now' under the SkypeIn button. You'll need to select the country you want your SkypeIn number to be in - if you travel a lot and have friends all over the world you can subscribe to at least 10 local numbers. After you have selected your country you'll need to select your state. Once you've selected your state Skype provides you with a list of numbers to choose from. If you'd prefer to pick your own just enter the combination in the box and Sykpe will automatically tell you if it is available. The last step is payment. A local SkypeIn number costs just $16 for three months and $50 for 12 months.

I tested SkypeIn with my sister who lives in Los Angeles. She applied for the SkypeIn service and was up and running in under 10 minutes. The quality of the calls has been excellent. At times of high bandwidth usage (like when she was downloading a file) voice quality suffered slightly but was still clear. When she didn't answer her computer I simply left her a voicemail (a free extra with a SkypeIn account). With SkypeIn you also have the option to forward calls to any number (using SkypeOut credits) when you are offline. Beware as forwarding calls costs per minute diverted.

The SkypeIn service is currently in beta testing which means that the service may not always be stable but Skype maintains it is improving quickly. Additionally, SkypeIn is not available from all countries yet but Skype have plans to extend the service to more countries quickly.