Skype and other VOiP (voice over Internet protocol) services are fairly popular among small business owners. But many people do not know that it gets even better when you use Skype Mobile on a Blackberry or Android 3G smartphone from Verizon.
I received a phone from Skype to evaluate the service for small business owners. At first, I was skeptical. First, why would a cell phone carrier let you make free calls on its backbone? Second, would the bandwidth be sufficient to keep a quality call, at least equal to a cell call?
Overall, the application and service are excellent. The app is sophisticated enough to pull in all the contact details, and keep track of calls and instant messages just like Skype on the PC or Mac. I found it a lot of fun to make "free" calls from just about anywhere and be free of the tether to my computer or office. So, for fun, I made calls from the beach, from hiking trails, from parking lots with no Wi-Fi connection.
Frankly, even from my office I found using the Skype Mobile app to be so slick and easy to use that I prefer it over using my PC for calls now. Alas, it is only a loaner phone! I have integrated the mobility of Skype into my workflow and find the convenience to be immensely helpful to getting work done.
If you're on the fence about Skype being useful for a small company, read Ben Parr's post here on OPEN Forum. Video calls are a big draw for Skype users and many business owners use it for video conferencing and screensharing. Anita Campbell from SmallBizTrends.com also did a post on the best ways to hold a video call on Skype. Video calls on the Skype Mobile service are reportedly coming soon.
Want more on Skype? Check these out:
Here are the main points to remember:
- Free Skype-to-Skype calls and IM on the Verizon Wireless network.
- Skype is ‘always on’ to receive calls anytime
- Skype-to-Skype, IM, and global calls from Skype mobile™ don’t use your wireless plan minutes.
- There is a Skype Mobile for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Symbian, and many other phones that Verizon offers.
What I'd like to see:
As I mentioned, I'm a heavy Skype user and so I have a paid account with a phone number anyone can call (not just Skype users). But if I'm connected to Skype Mobile on this smartphone, it does not ring through, nor does it allow someone to leave a voicemail. This isn't my main line, so it isn't a big deal, but if it were your main line then you'd want to find a workaround.
It could also be that I've missed some tiny setting and it could be resolved. It is important to say, though, that if I’m not connected via the Skype Mobile on the smartphone and someone leaves a voicemail, I will receive it when I log into Skype Mobile.
The Skype Mobile service also does not work on a Wi-Fi network, only Verizon's cell infrastructure. This seemed unfair, at first, but after thinking about it from a business perspective it makes perfect sense. The smartphone itself still works on any Wi-Fi network, of course. I don't think Skype will be adding this capability any time soon, but if there could be ways to do a Skype call from a browser, let me know in the comments.
Overall, if you’re already a business user on Skype and a Verizon customer with a smartphone or Blackberry, Skype Mobile is a free add-on service worth turning on.