Wednesday, April 06, 2005

For the Occasional Road Warrior

I travel fairly frequently for my job, but don't carry a cell phone. As you might imagine, calling home to check up on the kids can be problematic in this condition. The last time I placed a call home (via AT&T) from a hotel, it cost me something north of $20.
Back in early March, I heard about a service called Skype. On the surface, it looks like a typical IM client. I've used it to chat with my wife while on the road, which works out cheaper than calling from the hotel (i.e., free with an internet connection), but wasn't as satisfying as an actual conversation. Also, text chatting with my 3-year-old son just doesn't work.
Skype has an additional service called SkypeOut. SkypeOut allows you to call regular telephones just about worldwide for a flat rate. I signed up for the service today, loaded my account up with about $13 (Skype uses euros) via PayPal, and called home. The sound quality was pretty decent on a cheap Logitech headset, once I got the mike adjusted correctly. I spent 43 minutes on the phone with my wife and three of the kids, then called my mother and taked for another 19. Net cost, $1.46, or 2.3 cents per minute.
If you travel, and worry about paying ridiculous hotel rates for phone calls, or have trouble managing your monthly cell phone minutes, Skype just might be for you. Check it out.