Saturday, 13 June 2009 00:00

Skype me! The world keeps shrinking

Written by Mimmi Tornberg
Norma Avila started to use Skype eight years ago to call her friends and family in Mexico Norma Avila started to use Skype eight years ago to call her friends and family in Mexico Mimmi Tornberg

The time when one could feel the distance when calling somewhere far, far away is far, far gone.

With Skype, a voice-over-Internet software, you not only get an instant answer but an instant movie image as well.

Skype is easy to download and easy to use. The Skype Web page,, provides all the information and the software needed to get started. In 2007 Skype said it had 276 million user accounts, growing to 309 million in 2008. The company describes its service as “a little piece of software that lets you talk over the Internet to anyone in the world for free.”

Norma Avila is a chef at the Volcano restaurant in Johnson City who said she uses Skype to call her friends in Mexico.

”It's like they’re sitting right next to me when I talk to them with Skype,” she said.

Avila started to use Skype eight years ago for school and after four years she figured she could use it for calling her friends. She and her husband use the same account for calling and it is more like a gathering than just a call.

Calling with Skype is not the same as calling with a phone. It is a program users download to their computers that allows them to call another computer, a land line or a cellular phone. Calling from one computer to another is free of charge when both users have Skype accounts.

Despite the success of Skype, some users have had problems. reports that the quality of the Internet connection determines the quality on the Skype calls. If the connection is slow, the call is going to be problematic.

Kunden Patel, manager at the Jameson Inn in Kingsport, uses Skype for calling her aunt and nephew in India and her in-laws and son in London.

”It has definitely made my life easier,” she said.

Her son, who is in college in London, helped her get Skype a year ago.

The Luxembourg-based company has several catchy slogans on its Web site, like “Take a deep breath,” “We have something nice to tell you,” and “How do you hello?”

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The eBay-owned company is accessible in 28 languages.

The availability in so many countries creates certain security problems. Germany and Austria are suspected to have been wiretapping conversations in Skype according to Techworld and Techdirt, even though Skype claims that the company encrypt all calls to assure privacy.

There are three ways of using Skype. Users can call Skype-to-Skype, which is free of charge. Users can pay as they go, which means that they have an account that they pay a deposit to and the users can call land lines, cell phones and text cell phones. Or users can get a subscription and pay monthly. Calling Skype-to-Skype is the most fun because if the computer has a Webcam, callers can see each other.

Avila and her husband usually agrees with their friends when they should call so that when they do they can all talk together and see each other in front of the computer.

”We’re usually a whole bunch of people talking and not just one person in front of each computer,” she said.

Patel uses Skype to call land lines so she has to deposit money in her Skype account.

”Usually ten dollars last for a month,” she said.

Patel says that Skype made her life easier because she could talk to her family in a much cheaper way. Avila really likes Skype and says that it has made her life much easier because she can talk to her friends whenever she wants to. She still has to call her parents on their land line because they don’t have a computer yet, but she uses Skype to do that.

It is important to remember that Skype is not the same thing as having a regular phone. The company reminds users that it cannot be used for emergency calls and that it should not be a replacement for the ordinary phone.

Average rates for Skype calls


Land line

(per minute)

Cell phones

(per minute)


$ 0.024

$ 0.024


$ 0.114

$ 0.386


$ 0.024

$ 0.291


$ 0.106

$ 0.106


$ 0.024

$ 0.336


This originally appeared in El Nuevo Kingsport Times-News.

Read 2040 times Last modified on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 18:32