Skype and IP-based Telephony

Question: What exactly is Skype, and what does it allow users to do? Can you really make free phone calls over the Internet?

The IT Guy says:
Skype is an increasingly popular free software program allowing users to both instant message (with text) as well as connect with audio conferencing. This is an example of IP telephony, or using the networking infrastructure of the Internet to make person-to-person audio connections.

Unlike Apple’s iChat instant messaging and audio/videoconferencing software, which allows only audio conferencing between people using Macintosh computers, Skype permits people with different types of computer operating systems (Windows, Macintosh and Linux) to audio conference together.

Skype audio conferences consume comparatively more bandwidth than text-based instant messaging, but the power of audio conferencing is potentially much greater than its text-based cousin. Teachers and students can use Skype to make real-time, synchronous audio connections with other teachers across town or on the other side of the planet (assuming they are awake and at school at the same time!) If your teachers are interested in this type of classroom exchange, resource sites like ePals and Global SchoolNet are excellent places to start looking for potential collaborators.

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