Ever wonder if Skype could replace your home phone line? Borderless Communicator publisher and independent Skype “statistician” Hudson Barton has outlined, with encouragement by Skype Journal‘s Phil Wolff, the complete details of how he has deployed Skype to become his home phone.
If you are considering this option here are some of the considerations:
- Skype Online should be offering numbers in your local calling area.
- Create a separate Skype account solely for the home phone configuration
- There are no Contacts associated with the account (optionally you can create a separate set of contacts)
- All inbound calls are concurrently forwarded to their two iPhones (leaving one more PSTN call forwarding number available)
- They still use their original Skype accounts for making and receiving Skype calls with their Skype Contacts
- Hudson and his wife answer ALL calls on their respective iPhones using the carrier’s voice channel
- not on Skype for iPhone
- They also subscribed to a North American unlimited US and Canada Skype Calling Plan
- $60 per year (vs $360 for a Time Warner home phone line)
- Results in a 50% discount on the cost of their Skype Online number (net $30 per year)
- Required since all inbound calls are forwarded to their iPhones on the PSTN
- Provides outbound calling options (see below)
- Hudson has outlined the issues with respect to outbound calling.
- Where a SkypeOut call would be the lowest cost, he uses Skype for iPhone logged into the same “home phone” Skype account.
- However, due to battery issues he closes Skype for iPhone when not making Outbound calls. (recall that they answer inbound calls on their wireless carrier’s voice channel).
- For outbound calls he can optionally set either his Skype Online number or a mobile number as the callerID for SkypeOut calls.
- There is no 911 service for the Skype Online number; however, it is provided by their iPhone carrier.
- Voice mails are left on the iPhones’ carrier accounts for ready access, not Skype voice mail.
With Hudson’s implementation, the Skype client is never open except when required on the iPhone for SkypeOut calls; Skype’s infrastructure works in the background to forward calls. No PC is required once the account is set up and call forwarding configured. Other than the mobile phones, no PC hardware is required for the ongoing use of the service.
Over the years I have experienced a couple of other situations where, while it may not be their only home phone service, users have taken advantage of Skype.
Use a PC-free Skype-enhanced phone. While there were once several offerings for this, the current offerings are the RTX Dualphone 3088 (cordless, landline and Skype) which can combine a landline service and Skype into one platform and the FREETALK Office Phone (Ethernet, Skype only) . Since the Dualphone works via a DECT-supported base station, you can have as many as four handsets around the home. Once again:
- create a separate Skype account for your “home phone” service
- ensure that you can obtain a Skype Online number that is toll-free to most of your callers
- low cost unlimited calling US/Canada landline subscriptions are very common
- you have configured call forwarding options to send unanswered calls to a mobile phone
- obtain a Skype subscription appropriate to where you expect to place outbound calls
- 911 calls can be made via the landline or the user’s mobile phone.
In one instance the user is moving amongst several countries over a few months and they simply take their Dualphone with them and obtain a local landline service if needed.
My own home phone is a Dualphone equivalent; but our landline uses the Rogers Home Phone service where the plan includes 1,000 minutes of US/Canada calling and free calls to other Rogers Home Phone customers as well as any Rogers wireless phone in Canada. But a similar Skype configuration is not feasible in Canada as Skype Online numbers are not offered for Canada.
Bottom line: Yes, with the appropriate services available in your local calling area, you can replace your home phone with a Skype service. However, understand you will need a smartphone for 911 calling and you need to ensure your iPhone is kept charged to be able to receive calls.
- RTX Dualphone 3088: The Bloggers’ Have Their Say
- RTX 3088 Dualphone: An Ideal Home or Small Office Solution for Easy Worldwide Calling
- Skype hits 145 million users monthly (voiceontheweb.biz)
Note: While eBuyNow (formerly In Store Solutions and producer of the FREETALK Office Phone) was a client of the author’s, this is no longer the case. The author currently has no interest in any product sales resulting from links within this post. He has been using the no longer available Phillips dual mode cordless phone for his Rogers Home Phone service.