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What is Skype? A. Summary: Skype is a Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) free software that allows users to make calls over the Internet for free using computers. No phone has to be involved. Skype also has a paid service which allows users to call regular telephone numbers (SkypeOut) and to receive calls from traditional phones (SkypeIn). B. Key Points: Skype is free software that allows you to make phone calls on your computer over the Internet You will need a headset with a microphone, or speakers and a microphone, to use Skype with your computer Link to Skype - Getting Started The home page for Skype is www.skype.com By setting up an account and paying a fee you can use SkypeOut to call regular phones A SkypeIn number will allow you to have a local phone line in another country or to take the same phone number with you wherever you travel For corrections, updates, or clarifications on this Star Point, please email Robert Leming C. Details: Skype is a Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) free software that allows users to make calls over the Internet to other computer users for free. You will not need a regular phone to do this, but you will need a headset and microphone attached to your computer. Skype also has paid services allowing users to call regular telephone numbers (SkypeOut) and to receive calls from traditional phones (SkypeIn). eBay now owns Skype. Skype offers other tools available elsewhere, such as instant messaging, but its main use is for Voice over IP. Skype Chat, an instant messaging tool inside Skype, can be used as a back-channel, private conversation tool during conference calls and presentations. The voice quality of a Skype call may not always be as good as a call over a regular phone line. But if you and the person you are talking to have high-speed Internet connections, the sound quality is usually very good. Traffic over your Internet connection and on the Internet routers that your call will go through can affect the quality of your call. It is possible with the latest version of Skype to conference call with up to as many as 25 people, including the host. (Without a lot of planning, you should probably restrict your conference calls to 5 participants.) The person with the fastest Internet connection should host the conference call. A 25-participant session would require some pre-planning and a minimum upload speed of 500 kbps for the host. It should be said that this is advertised as possible in Skype, but the quality of the connections could impact such a large call. The host needs to use “Skype for Windows” and the host‟s PC should have good processor speed and not be doing any Outlook downloads during the conversation. All unnecessary applications should be turned off during a Skype conference call. Participants in a Skype conference call, as opposed to the host, can be on any version of Skype or be using a regular telephone connection. To use Skype, you will first download the free software from www.skype.com. Please read the Star Point Getting Started with Skype to find out more about installing and using it. One warning for home users of Skype: Skype clients can become “supernodes” with calls from other Skype users routed through their computers while they are connected to Skype. The use of intermediary computers is automatic, and individual users not behind secure firewalls have no options to disable such use of their resources. You can identify which computers might be subject to this traffic because it will affect routers that cannot connect to multiple computers. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/skype) Skype automatically selects certain users with fast CPUs, good broadband connections and no firewall issues to be these „supernodes‟, through which other users may connect. Future additional features with Skype: Netgear, and other phone manufacturers, are coming out with phones preloaded with Skype. Such phones would not have to be connected to a computer to use Skype. They use WiFi wireless routers instead. And some new cell phones are coming out with Skype preinstalled. Security with Skype Skype calls are encrypted end-to-end. There is no risk when you are using Skype only for calls and instant messages. With some of Skype's other tools, you will need to be more careful. If you choose to use its File Transfer ability, for example, you should take precautions when accepting files from parties outside of AFSC, just as with any email program. Skype says it uses the same encryption for file transfers as they use for voice and video calls. You can force Skype to only allow incoming calls from people in a Skype Contacts list you build. Your Skype profile can be seen by all other Skype users -- now up in the millions. Do not put details in your profile that you do not want to be publicly viewed. You do not have to fill in your profile if you do not want to, and you can change it at any time. If you are using Skype for work purposes, it's a good idea to have a list of known Skype Names for all colleagues, and not to trust anyone outside the list. SkypeOut SkypeOut allows Skype users to call traditional telephone numbers, including mobile telephones and international numbers, for a fee. This fee ranges from a low of $0.024/minute for calls to most developed countries, to a high of about $2.142/minute for calls to a place such as Diego Garcia. Below you can see how you would dial a regular telephone number from your SkypeOut. You will need to buy Skype Credit to make international calls. This means setting up an account in advance with Skype, using a major credit card. The SkypeOut Global Rate is currently 2.1 cents per minute to more than 20 countries. SkypeIn SkypeIn allows Skype users to receive calls on their computers that are dialed from a regular phone. The Skype user in this case will have to subscribe to a phone number. Numbers are currently available for 36 countries, and the list continues to grow. Visit the Skype website and go to the “Shop” tab to see an updated list. To save money in international calls between countries, a user in Philadelphia, for example, could get a Skype London phone number and then could call London for a cheap or free local rate. You can get up to 10 SkypeIn numbers in different places around the world so people who call you can call a local number. SkypeIn is also used by those who want to keep the same phone number when traveling from country to country. Wherever in the world they log on, people can always reach them at the same number. Click on SkypeIn to read a Star Point about it. Skype Video Calling Skype Video, which comes with Skype version 2 or later, allows you to use Skype with your webcam to send and receive live video during your conversations with other Skype users. If you don‟t have a webcam and your Skype contact does, you can see them but they won‟t see you. You can start a video call by clicking on the video button of the contact in your contact list or by choosing "Start video" during a call. You can switch video on and off during the call. Skypecasts A Skypecast is a live, moderated computer voice-only phone conference that allows groups of up to 100 people to log in and out of the conference at will and speak to each other. These are public conferences. You cannot lock someone out ahead of time, but the host of the conference is able to mute, eject or pass the virtual microphone to participants. You can use a Skypecast for a “lecture” by turning on the “Mute All” feature while you speak; then you can unmute people and invite them to speak in turn. If they have a question, they can use the “request mic” feature.
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