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Finally Joining the Skype Revolution

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It took a visit from my non-techie Canadian friend Sean to finally get the whole Skype internet phone calling thing figured out.  In about five minutes we had downloaded the Skype client (www.Skype.com), installed it, registered my username, and called Sean's mother outside Toronto (on her regular phone) using just the built-in speaker/mic of my Thinkpad T42.  The sound quality was amazing, and is even better for Skype to Skype (i.e. Computer-To-Computer calls).  Skype-to-Phone calls to folks in North America are free until the end of the year, and international calling rates to other places are as far as I can tell MUCH lower than Vonage, et. al. Not sure what the N. America Skype-to-Phone charge will be after the promotional period is over, but by then hopefully all your friends will have Skype .

So in the last two days I've cancelled my Vonage VOIP phone service, which we had mostly to be able to call my wife's folks overseas, and also had an interesting chat with Verizon customer service.  After the ~$25/month Vonage line charge, we had been paying about 25 cents/min for such calls.  Sound quality was iffy at best, but not awful.  Now we have no line charge and pay only 15 cents/min for the same calls, and the sound quality is about the same.  Even better, my wife can call from her Mac iBook without having to be home.  If you have Vonage stock, you might want to sell.

Meanwhile, the Verizon rep I spoke with had heard of Skype but some colleagues had dismissed it as something that won't stay in business.  I had called to cancel my international calling plan, which was costing me about $6?/month so I would be able to get lower per minute rates. Our conversation was a bit of a reality check for him, and he was going to try it out for himself.  Frankly, I don't see how Verizon is going to make much money in voice for very long.  In a separate but related event I just saw a commercial featuring the marketing manager for Verizon's FIOS (Fiber Optic to the Home) service, who said that "this is the most exciting part of the company".  No kidding, since their main goal appears to be to put the older part of the company out of business by providing good connections for people to use Skype.

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