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Cheap International Phone Calls

Talk anywhere across the world at local call rates, All you need is a Internet line to get started - Steve writes about making a crystal-clear Internet call using Skype's slick software in

With all the talk about Internet calling services like Vonage and AT&T's CallVantage, you might have overlooked my favorite option, Skype, which has been around for a couple of years. Using Skype is much like using instant messaging. (In fact, IM features are built in.) Click a name in your contact list, and your PC rings your contact's phone. Once that person picks up, start blabbing. It's free to call anybody, anywhere, who has Skype installed. You and your friend will need a broadband connection for Skype to work well.

Skype has lots more going for it, too: The program is incredibly easy to set up and use, the sound quality is great, and unlike with Vonage there are no monthly fees. In fact, in the United States, you avoid all taxes and pesky regulatory fees. And for a small charge, you can obtain various landline-like features from Skype. For example, SkypeOut allows you to call any landline or cell phone. You pay only about 2.5 cents a minute for SkypeOut calls. I spent 12 cents using SkypeOut to arrange for a hotel reservation in Buenos Aires. SkypeOut's rates are on a par with those of other VoIP and landline services.

There are some cool things to do with Skype. Another service called Skypeout lets you make calls to old-fashioned phone numbers all around the world. Landlines, mobile phones... it works with almost all of them. SkypeOut is not free but it is pretty cheap, actually. Or link up to five folks in a conference call. (Click Tools, Create a Conference.) To add more, have participants invite people. Did you know that you can use Skype with the same telephone you use for regular telephone calls? For more tips, see Michael Gough's Skype Tips page. Download Skype and start calling for free all over the world.