Today the Skype Store launched two new ways to place and receive Skype calls, including SkypeOut calls, from your home phone. Each also has an option to continue using your landline.
- Make and receive Skype calls on an existing home phone using the FREETALK® Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter for Skype.
- Make and receive Skype calls from a new GE Skype-enabled Digital Cordless Phone.
One of the major limitations on using Skype at home is the requirement to have Skype installed on a PC (especially if it’s a desktop at fixed location), smartphone (iPhone, Android phone) with battery life limitations, iPad or, more recently, a Skype-enabled TV or BluRay player.
Yet the world’s most familiar phone interface has been the standard 12-key Touch Tone phone. And the most widely available touchtone phones today are DECT-supported cordless phones allowing one landline connection to be accessed from up to four or five rooms around the house.
Many people today continue to use their home phones as their primary means of communication. If you are one of these people, you will be pleased to learn that you can now have a true Skype experience on your existing handset…
- create a dual line operation (landline and Skype) around the house or apartment
- place and receive free Skype-to-Skype voice calls without a PC
- place long distance calls to landlines and mobile phones using a Skype Calling Plan or Skype Credit
- receive calls via a Skype Online number (as well as your landline number, if you configure that option)
- call forwarding (requires Calling Plan subscription or Skype Credit)
- support for up to 200 Skype contacts
- Skype-to-Skype voice calls can be made to/from any other Skype access point: Skype for Windows/Mac/Linux, Skype for iPhone/iPad/Android and Skype for TV
- Emergency e911 calls are directed automatically over the landline connection, if configured.
- participation in Skype multi-party calls, as an invited party only
Skype on a Home Phone
FREETALK® Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter
According to Helen Blackburn, Skype’s Head of the Partner Product Management team:
Many people today continue to use their home phones as their primary means of communication. If you are one of these people, you will be pleased to learn that you can now have a true Skype experience on your existing handset with the release of the FREETALK Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter for Skype.
The FREETALK® Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter, initially available for U.S. and Canada, works with an existing home phone with a RJ-11 connection. Both an RJ-45 Ethernet cable and RJ-11 telephone cable are included with the device; it plugs into a standard 110 volt power source.
The Home Phone Adapter does require access to a PC to configure settings:
- Call settings: use Skype or your landline as the default for domestic and/or international calls
- Contacts and Speed Dials: for making Skype-to-Skype and SkypeOut calls
- Call Forwarding to another landline or mobile phone
To get started simply make the Ethernet and telephone cable connections, plug the adapter into a power source, navigate to the setup wizard (for either a Windows or Mac PC) and follow the set-up wizard instructions. Once configured calls can be placed and received via the phone, without any requirement for PC access. The Connect•Me portal’s home page gives an overview of the setup and options:
Skype-to-Skype calls are made by setting up a Speed Dial associated with a Skype contact. A speed dial then requires you to dial * plus a speed dial number (1-99) to place a call to a Skype contact from the phone set. Speed dials can also be used for frequently called SkypeOut numbers to landlines and mobile phones.
You always have the option to dial a landline/mobile call normally (see Call Settings in the image above):
- # plus a number [area code][local number] uses your landline for calls to US/Canada numbers
- ** plus a number +[country code][area code][local number] uses SkypeOut to place calls internationally at SkypeOut charges.
Note that a landline connection is an option; the device could be used solely for Skype-to-Skype and SkypeOut calling from a home phone set. The adapter uses the wideband G722 codec for crisp voice quality on Skype-to-Skype calls.
The Skype Website provides additional information about the FREETALK® Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter, its use cases and requirements.
The FREETALK® Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter can be purchased via the U.S. and Canada Skype Stores; the actual transaction, including delivery, is managed by the eBuyNow (formerly InStoreShop) ecommerce store. Note that there are options that include Skype Calling Plan subscriptions.
GE 31591 Digital Cordless Phone
The GE 31591 Digital Cordless Phone is a new version of a PC-free Skype cordless phone that takes advantage of additional Skype features including:
- Uses Skype SILK superwideband technology for crystal clear Skype-to-Skype calls
- Log into Skype via username/password.
- Manage your presence status; see Skype contacts’ online status
- 200 Skype Contacts download; 100 name local phonebook
- Skype voicemail access; message waiting indication
- View Skype and landline calls history: 50 name/number call log
- CallerID (with Skype name if Skype-to-Skype)/Call Waiting
- configure via a Skype client on your PC
- Handset speakerphone
- Software upgradeable
- Expandable to 5 handsets
Note that the GE Digital Cordless Phone includes additional Skype features. such as SILK technology support, beyond what has been available in the legacy RTX Dualphone 3088.
The GE 31591 Digital Cordless Phone can be purchased via the U.S. and Canada Skype Stores; the actual transaction, including delivery, is managed by the eBuyNow (formerly InStoreShop) ecommerce store. Note that there are options that include Skype Calling Plan subscriptions.
What Skype account do you use?
One major consideration is what Skype account you use for either of these options; it depends on the context in which you want to use your phone. I have elected to use a separate account because:
- My primary Skype account has over 500 contacts; these devices can only support 200 contacts
- there are probably only 30 to 50 contacts that I would access regularly via a Connect•Me adapter.
- I want to separate the “business” calls on my primary Skype accounts from personal calls received around the home.
As a result I am using a separate account for the Connect•Me device I have been testing using a 20 year old Nortel home phone; a full review will follow in a separate post.
In a press release today, Neil Stevens, Skype’s vice president and general manager for product and marketing, stated:
“Our mission is to make Skype available everywhere so consumers can enjoy conversations whenever and wherever they are. We are delighted to have partners that help us deliver on this mission through the introduction of new products such as the Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter. Now, using Skype at home is as simple as picking up a handset and dialing.”
Bottom line: Skype has expanded on its Skype Everywhere theme by allowing Skype to become the “long distance” service associated with a landline phone service and a touch tone “home phone”. It also addresses the ability to make emergency calls via the landline service. In my case, by removing the long distance service associated with my Bell Canada line, I have removed an associated $11.00/month service charge just to have a long distance service – before making any calls. And I get the advantage of either free or low cost calling while I can maintain free calls via the landline for my local calling area around Toronto.
- With new Skype adaptors, Grandma can now Skype you from her landline (thenextweb.com)
- New Freetalk adapter makes Skype more like MagicJack (skypejournal.com)
- Now you can use your home phone for Skype calls (gigaom.com)