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Skype, the Alternative Cellphone

So you have a cellphone, maybe it's an iPhone or Blackberry.  How much are you paying a month for your phone.  Is it $60, $80, or $100 a month?  And that adds up on average lets say $1000 a year.  You might think, hey, that's normal.  I like my phone and its accessibility.  Now, what if your strapped for cash, let say.  You really need to save some money.  Well, as a college student, doing so probably isn't as difficult as you think.  Most college campuses are equipped with wifi access around everywhere, and you'll know in a bit what I'm getting at.  Also, most apartments your staying at probably have wireless internet in some capacity.

If you don't know what VoIP (Voice over IP) is, then its about time you learned.  VoIP is the ability to make phone calls over the internet.  There are companies that provide free services enabling you to make calls over the internet to a friend or family almost anywhere in the world.  The only restriction is that they must be using the program client.  Some examples might be like Google or Yahoo.  You can even video chat with other people through these systems as well.  

Some VoIP services offer other alternatives for customers.  Some VoIP plans like Skype, charge around $3.00 a month which allow you to make calls to any phone (landline or cellphone) in the United States.  The only exception is 9-1-1.  That is the only number that you cannot dial.  Fear not, I didn't explain this without a backup plan.

How to make calls?

To you Skype you will typically need a computer with internet and a headset.  You just use the interface to make calls as if it were a normal phone.  It's a simple as that.  Skype is fairly simple to setup so you won't have any issues.  There are also other alternatives instead of using your computer.  You can by a Skype Phone, which will act like a normal phone in your house.  I believe it just has to connect to your ethernet line obviously.

Can people call me?

Yes, people can call you, but you need to purchase a phone number.  Now phone numbers aren't expensive and they cost around $60 a year.  So when you call out with that number, it'll show up on peoples' phones so they know its you calling.

How much can you save?

If you use Skype in one year, you spend about $40 on the voice plan, and then $60 for a phone number (optional).  So your spending about $100 a year versus $1000 a year for your cellphone plan.  In the end, your saving about a 1000%.  That isn't a bad deal at all.

Can I send text messages?

Yes you can, there will be some smaller incurred fees, but nothing substantial.  Make sure to look at all your options and see if its the best fit for you.

Who would benefit from this?

If your the kind of person who doesn't have to make tons of calls all the time while your on the go this might work for you.  If you are usually at a location that has internet, than this will probably work for you.

What if I need to call 9-1-1 or make emergency calls while I'm on the road?

I carry with me a pay-as-you-go phone that I refill whenever I need to.  I generally use it to make emergency calls or short calls with friends that I can't avoid.  I usually take my longer calls when I'm at a location with internet access.  In a typical year I probably refill my phone about four to five times.  It usually rakes in about $150.  Yet at the end of the day I'm paying about $250 a year for my communication services, which is way way cheaper than a regular phone plan.