I’m going to try and keep this short and to the point (famous last words). I recently needed to provide a phone number for people to call that wanted to reach my Bellingham marketing business (shameless plug). I started out using Google Voice but pretty soon the phone started ringing and people wanted to chat for a long, long time. I was burning through my cell phone voice minutes. So I had a choice; 1) buy unlimited minutes, 2) pay the per minute overage rate or 3) find another option. I opted for #3.
The obvious other option is Skype. I’ve been using Skype for a while but mostly as a chat mechanism and the infrequent video chat or voice calls with folks overseas and family. I never had anyone calling me so much. And I have the Skype app on my Android phone but again only used it for chatting.
I needed a solution where people can call me on a publishable local number and I can answer on my cell or computer (wireless headset), they can leave voicemail and I’ll be notified via email when they do and I can call out to any mobile or landline and my published local number will appear via caller ID.
Skype can do all this. Here’s all that’s needed:
- A smartphone with the Skype application installed. Note that Verizon preloads a version that won’t use the data connection to make calls to non-Skype contacts (read landlines and mobile numbers) so it burns up your voice minutes. Just ignore it and get the official Skype application.
- A $2.99 per month subscription enabling unlimited voice/video calls to US/Canada numbers.
- An assigned phone number for $30 per year (current 50% discount offer) with caller ID and voicemail
That’s it! With some simple math, I’m going to be paying $5.49 per month for my work phone with unlimited minutes. And in Skype’s fair usage policy, that’s a whopping
- 10,000 minutes per month
- maximum of 6 hours per day
- no more than 50 different numbers in total can be called per day
But even if I go over any of these limits (I really hope not, because that’s a lot of jabber-jawing), I will only be charged 2.3¢/min and 4.9¢/call. I can live with that.
UPDATE/ADDENDUM: For the philosphic in the crowd consider this; only your cell phone company requires you to use the single device they sold you to be able to access (send/receive) messaging through the account (aka phone number) they assigned you. Email, Twitter, instant messaging, Skype calling, etc. all enable you to log into your account from multiple devices and send/receive. I’m feeling as if, with the change detailed in this post, I’ve started to distance myself from this restriction.