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Skype: ‘Next best thing to being there in person’comment (0)

March 24, 2011

Mike and Pat Mason, of Huntsville, used Skype on Christmas Day to talk to and watch their children and grandchildren in Florida open gifts.

“It worked great and was the next best thing to being there in person,” Pat Mason said.

But what is Skype, how does it work, what equipment is needed and how much does it cost?

Founded in 2003, Skype is a service that uses the Internet to make audio and video calls. Users also can use the chat option and send instant messages. The service boasts more than 340 million registered users worldwide.

Skype uses a novel technology, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), that changes the way most people think about long-distance calls.  

To make audio calls, personal computer users need a free Skype subscription and a computer microphone or headset. The addition of a computer camera allows the user to make video calls.

Family and friends can even be called from a TV. All that is needed is a Skype-equipped TV, a high-speed Internet connection and a TV webcam.

Calls between computers are free. The no-fee feature also applies to one-to-one video calls. Skype calls can be made from cell phones for pennies per minute. For a small monthly fee, a group video calling feature can be added.  (TAB)

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