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Skype is a software program that enables you to use your computer to communicate with other people. Many people rely on Skype to keep in touch with friends and family, and during peak hours, up to 40 million people use the service. Microsoft has acquired Skype and has integrated it with Microsoft Outlook and other programs. You'll get more out of Skype if you understand how it works and what it costs to use it.

1. Technology

When you communicate using Skype, its software encrypts your communication to prevent hackers from deciphering its contents. Then, the communication travels across a network of fast and powerful computers running Skype until it reaches the recipient. If the person you're communicating with is on a landline, the communication will travel along with a standard telephone network as needed until it reaches its destination. Note that Skye doesn't carry communications to emergency personnel.

2. Skype Gift Card

Skype vouchers and prepaid cards are electronic vouchers sold in various retail outlets. You can use them to top up the Skype Credit in your account or make calls to phones with a subscription package. Find out where you can get Skype vouchers for free. There are two reward sites where you can easily earn free skype gift card.

- PayPrizes.com
- CouponPrizes.com

2. Free Services

You can create a Skype account at no cost. Once you do, you can use your Skype account to make free voice or video calls from your Internet connection to other users also using the Internet, though you can't call people on a cell phone or landline. Skype also provides a free instant messaging service to communicate with other Skype users. Finally, Skype supports sending files to other people by simply dragging and dropping the files into your Skype chatbox. You can send pictures, video and other files using this service.

3. Paid Calls

While you can make free calls between computers running Skype, for a fee, you can also use Skype to connect to people through a mobile phone or landline. Skype charges only a few dollars a month for unlimited calling to the United States and Canada, and less than $20 for unlimited calls to many countries in the world. If you want to add China to the list of countries you can call, Skype will charge you more than $20 a month. Skype also enables you to buy telephone time by the minute.

4. Other Paid Services

In addition to paid calls to landline and mobile phones, Skype offers users additional services for a fee. You can send text messages for about 10 cents per message and can also make use of premium video conferencing services for up to ten people for less than ten dollars per month. You can use group video conferencing to call any country in the world, and Skype offers live chat customer support to its paying users. Premium video conferencing also does not contain advertising.

5. Apps

Skype provides smartphone apps on popular platforms such as Android, iPhone and Windows Phones. It also provides an app for the iPod Touch that effectively transforms it into a phone wherever you have Wi-Fi. These apps make it easy to use Skye right from your mobile device, so you don't have to be tied to a computer to skype.

Skype is a great way to stay in touch

I love stuff that’s free or almost free, so I’m a huge fan of Skype, an Internet “telephone” service that’s absolutely free for computer-to-computer voice and video calls, and reasonably priced for voice calls to and from landline and cellular phones.

You start by downloading the free Skype software (www.skype.com), which is available for Mac, Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux and more. With this free software on your computer or handheld device and a broadband Internet connection, you can have free audio or video chats with anyone in the world who has Skype software and a reasonably fast Internet connection.

It was already a cool deal, but recently Skype made it even cooler by introducing free Skype software for the iPhone and iPod touch. So now it costs you nothing to use your iPhone or iPod touch to talk to anyone with the software. You can also use Skype on your iPhone or iPod touch to call landlines and mobile phones. Although those calls aren’t free, they’re almost always cheaper than cellular calls.

The only hitch is that your iPhone or iPod touch needs to connect via WiFi to make or receive free voice calls; it doesn’t work with AT&T’s Edge or 3G networks. And, not surprisingly, there’s no video chat on the iPhone or iPod touch.