Written by Amber Mac

Skype allows you to place and receive “phone” calls online for much less than your phone company charges, usually without any difference in quality. Skype software is available as a free download for Macs and PCs, and its subscriptions start at just US$2.95 a month, which gets you unlimited Skype calls to landlines and cell phones anywhere in Canada and the U.S. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)

However, Skype has several great features that provide benefits beyond lower telecom costs:

  • Video calling: If you have a reliable Internet connection and a Webcam, you can place videocalls to other similarly equipped Skype users. The video and audioquality are excellent over high-speed connections.
  • Call recording: With the help of third-party Skype software such as Pamela, a Windows-based program that costs less than $50, you can record and play back both voice and video calls easily.
  • Conference calling: With Skype, it’s a cinch to create a group of contacts and add anyone, including Skype non-users, to a conference call. There’s no need to fumble around with bridge numbers or costly conference-calling services.
  • Screen sharing: Skype facilitates remote collaboration by allowing tandem users to show each other whatever is on their computer screens, from new product designs to PowerPoint presentations.

Add it all up, and Skype is a very serious communications tool for business — at a price that’s no joke.

Originally appeared on