How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line

skypephone 300   How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone LineIt’s 2013 – stop paying for a land line. If you’ve got broadband Internet you can set up Skype, pay for a subscription and and keep your total home phone bill under $5 a month – long distance to phones throughout North America included (rates vary for other countries).

Kannon showed you how to save hundreds on your mobile phone bill in three easy steps. It works, but if a pay-as-you go plan is stopping you from having longer conversations don’t worry, Skype can save the day with its cheap long-distance plans.

Most people know you can use Skype to make free calls to other Skype users, with or without video. What many people don’t realize, however, is that you can also use the service to call regular phones – and that doing so can save you a lot of money. There are two ways to use Skype as a home phone, the first being to buy Skype credit. This is the pay-as-you-go option, and works well if you very rarely make phone calls.

The second option is a subscription, which allows you to make unlimited calls to anyone in a particular country for one monthly rate. Combine this with a dedicated Skype phone – or an app on your smartphone, tablet or computer – and you’ll be able to make and receive calls anytime. Go ahead and sign up for an account at Skype.com, if you haven’t yet, then keep reading to learn how you can use this service to replace your main home phone line.

Note: Skype cannot be used to call emergency services, such as 911 in North America. In case of emergency use your mobile phone.

Step 1: Get A Subscription

Now that you’ve got Skype it’s time to pay for the ability to call actual phones.

How much using Skype to replace your phone will cost depends on which countries it is you’d like to call. Myself, I’m mainly interesting in the USA and Canada (the country where I live and the country I’m from, respectively). Happily for me there is a North American plan, and it only costs $2.99 a month as of this writing, but note that you can get discounts for paying up front.

skype subscription   How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line

Head to the Skype rates page and search for the countries you’re interested in calling. You can buy multiple subscriptions if you regularly call multiple countries. And remember: the country you’re calling to does not have anything to do with the country you’re physically in. If you want to call the USA from India you can do that – and pay no more for the privilege than someone in the USA.

Check the details closely before paying for a subscription, however. The North American plan includes landlines and cell phones, while the European plan includes only landlines. If calling mobile phones outside North America is important to you this might not be ideal.

Note that, alternatively, you can get Skype Premium for $4.99 or more a month – it offers unlimited calls to any single country. For me this is a worse deal – I get unlimited calls to two countries for $2.99 – but depending on which country you want to call regularly this might be the best option. It comes with group video calls, if that’s important to you.

Step 2: Get A Skype Phone Number

A subscription means you can call other people, but what if you want other people to be able to call you? Well, you can set Skype to show any number, free of charge. Log into Skype, head to “Manager features” then click “Caller ID”. People you call with Skype will think you’re calling from whatever number you set here, and call back at that number. This works well if you have a mobile phone people can call you at.

If you want people to be able to call Skype directly, however, you’re going to need to buy a Skype number. Head to the SkypeIn page and see if your country is listed.

skypein   How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line

If it isn’t, sorry, you can’t get a SkypeIn number at this point (more countries are supported than those pictured above). If it is, click through to pick your number and find out about pricing.

If you already have a Skype subscription you should get a discount on a Skype number. I, for example, get a 50 percent discount on my USA Skype number because of my North American subscription. Just be sure to buy your subscription before your number in order to get the best price.

Step 3: Set Up a Phone

With the default Skype client you can easily call phones from your computer. This works well when you’re calling out, but if you want to receive calls regularly you’re going to need to leave your computer on constantly. If this is a problem for you, there are dedicated Skype phones out there you can buy. There aren’t as many of these on the market as there used to be, so they can cost quite a bit at first glance – the lowest options that don’t require a computer cost around $70.

skype phones   How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line

Note that some of the cheaper options require a computer in order to function. There are also adapters if you’d rather keep using your current phone – shop around.

Of course, if you’d rather not buy a dedicated device, you could simply install Skype for iOS or Skype for Android instead. Connected to your WiFi network, you can use your phone with Skype account to make and receive calls – perfect if your contract limits the amount of voice calls you can make in a month.

skypephone ios   How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line

If you have an old smart phone that you’re not using anymore, why not connect that to your WiFi network and use it as a Skype phone? All you need to do is download the app.

Bonus Points: Google Voice

Skype supports voicemail, and with it you can send SMS messages. If you want a more robust voicemail service, free SMS from any device, and the ability to take calls on Skype or your mobile phone, you should really check out Google Voice. Set up the service to forward calls to both your Skype account and your mobile phone and both will ring at once, meaning you’ll only need to use your mobile to take a call when you’re away from Skype.

Sadly, Google Voice is US only. Sorry.

Conclusion

Of course, if even Skype’s low rates are too steep for you, you can make free calls from Gmail – Google expanded free calls through 2013, in North America only.

But for the rest of us Skype is a reasonable option. Will you be switching to Skype? Let us know in the comments below.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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26 Comments -

Zaam Mohamed

Superb Article :)

ReadandShare

Great article!

Another alternative — in lieu of buying expensive Skype-compatible phones — is to buy a Obi phone adapter @ Amazon.com for $40. You connect one end to your wireless router and the other to any regular ol’ phone. Now, you use your regular phone to make free VOIP calls — with or without the computer on! There are no further charges.

And if your regular phone happens to be a cordless — then you can make and answer calls from any of your cordless headsets all around the house. Just like using landline — but without the cost.

justinpot

Nice. Note that the free calls with Obi use Google Voice, and as such are best suited for people in the USA.

ReadandShare

Thanks for adding the clarification there. Must remind myself that online readers are spread all over the world. Curious, where are you guys based?

justinpot

We’re based everywhere. I’m in Colorado, our managing editor Mark is in Germany, our boss Aibek is based in the UK, Erez and Yaara are in Isreal, Tina is in Sweden…I could go on. I’ve never met anyone I work with here face to face.

Tina Sieber

Meanwhile I’m back in Berlin.

What’s cool is that we have two team members in Australia, but they are originally from the UK and Singapore. Our real Aussie lives in France. Globalization gets confusing sometimes. :)

justinpot

Yeah, Tina: most of the staff seems to be from one country but living in another. I’m Canadian but living stateside, if those both count as countries.

Kannon Yamada

I think one team-member is from South America and lives in the US.

Another is from United Kingdom and lives in Australia.

I think we also have an Egyptian transplant, as well. It’s like the United Nations at MUO.

Doc

I’ve looked into Skype, and use it for work (I work from home), and I also tried Vonage for about a year, but its “router” cut off outgoing voice whenever I was downloading something, and also cut my broadband speed by around 2/3 (I was getting less than 5mbit of my 15mbit connection with the router in place). I’ve been thinking of trying an Ooma VOIP adapter instead http://ooma.com – you only pay the regulatory fees (about $3.50/mo) after the initial purchase. How does this stack up against MagicJack Plus?

Tug R

Would using Skype on WiFi on an Android phone count towards minutes? I was thinking about ditching VZW this summer for a T-Mobile prepaid plan that includes 100 minutes, and this seems like a great way to make that plan more realisitic for me.

justinpot

It would not count towards your minutes at all, if you’re on Wifi. Skype would use your home Internet connection directly.

Kannon Yamada

As Justin said, it wouldn’t use your minutes. However, it will use data instead of minutes and you’re soft-capped at 2GBs on that particular T-Mobile plan. Don’t get me wrong, though, that’s a substantial amount of talk-time and an excellent deal.

The only issue is that the call quality will suffer quite a bit when you’re using Skype over a data connection. IMO, it’s worth it.

justinpot

He specifically said on WiFi though, Kannnon. So he can use Skype at home and his regular minutes on the go.

Kannon Yamada

Oops. I threw in something else that I had just read at the same time: T-Mobile is rolling out its LTE network. If you use an LTE enabled phone, it’s actually much cheaper to use data exclusively for voice. The data consumption of VOIP is about 45MB per hour of talk. So, in theory, you could do all your talking over data and get 44 hours+ of talk time, per month. That is, if I did my maths right (which is rare).

Call quality would still suffer though. But on LTE, somewhat less so, than over HSPA.

Dave Bakker

Great article. I however use Magic jack, I bought this two years ago for 69.95 for 5 years unlimited North America long distance calling. Still have three years left and am extremely happy with the quality and price.

justinpot

People in the USA have a lot of great options, it’s true. Does Magic Jack still requires that you leave a computer running?

Dave Bakker

Yes as its plugged into the USB from the computer. Also another nice feature is you dont have to buy special phones. We plug in our regular cordless phone and have all three hand sets working through out the house.

Tom

I have my Magicjack plugged into my router so I can turn the attached computer off and the Magicjack (and attached phone) still work as long as the router is turned on.

Grr

For ppl in the US, google voice is the cheapest & best option.

Dr.Tom

I have been using NetTalk Duo for the last year. It has worked flawlessly. It was $50 for the first year, and $29 per year afterwards. Able to port my old home number when we moved.

I liked it so much that I bought another one to use as a fax line at work.

My understanding was that you couldn’t port your home number to Google voice – which is what I planned to do originally. I do believe, however, that you can port your number from NetTalk over to google voice. So I suspect it may be possible, if your goal is to eventually have a landline be transferred to Google voice, to use this as a bridge. But your mileage may vary…

Mark Smith

I’ve been doing this for about 3 years now.
You don’t have to buy a skype phone, nor do you have to use the app to receive calls.
You can set up a number in skype to forward calls.
I have all incoming skype calls forwarded to my cell phone.
However, if your cell has limited minutes, you probably won’t want to do that.

Justin Pot

There’s no wrong way to set this up, really. Sounds like you’ve worked out a great system.

Onaje Asheber

I never thought of Skype as a home phone.

Priscila Olortegui

I have an iPhone 4s with AT&T. Currently this month’s bill is $114. That’s ridiculous and it’s also the cheapest option they have for me, with my discount. I use my phone a lot, but hardly ever to make phone calls. I’m thinking of ditching AT&T and paying the Early Termination Fee, cutting my losses and using Skype for my voice calling needs. I’m always either at home, school, or work 90% of the time, thus connected to Wi-fi 90% of the time. I kinda feel like I’ll be living off the grind, but I’m a full-time student working in fast food. I’ll do what it takes at this point. I’m going to use Skype, Facebook Messenger, and a texting app to meet all my needs. Hope this works out.

Justin Pot

Let us know how it works out for you, will you? I basically do this with a burner phone supplement, and you’re right: there’s wifi 90% of the time.