Skype and the PSTN

S4W.DialPadWhile calls to other Skype users are free, Skype users also want to converse with their family, friends and business colleagues who do not have Skype access but do have conventional landline or mobile phone services (“PSTN“). There are several ways to connect with the PSTN:

  • SkypeOut: Outbound calling from a Skype client to landlines and mobile phones worldwide
  • Skype Online Numbers: Inbound calling to a PSTN number but answered on a Skype client
  • Skype To Go: Calls to local phone numbers that forward to a PSTN number worldwide
  • SMS Messaging: Sending SMS messages to a mobile phone

Skype offers several programs for making the connection.

At the end of August, 2011 Skype-certified hardware became available for making and receiving calls over Skype on a home phone where Skype provides an option to become the long distance carrier for a landline service.

You’ll never get a phone bill with Skype!

Calls to/from the PSTN may be prepaid through either:

Skype services for PSTN calls


“SkypeOut” is a term that refers to calls made from Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide. Skype has already negotiated termination arrangements in over 180 countries that result in rates as low as 2.3 cents per minute for calls to U.S., Canada and most European countries.

A few details associated with using SkypeOut:

Skype Calling Plan minutes can be applied to:

  • Each leg of a Skype multi-party call where the participant is on a PSTN number
  • Transferring a Skype call to a PSTN number
  • Call forwarding a Skype call to a PSTN number

In most countries worldwide calls to mobile phones are “caller pays”. As a result SkypeOut calls to mobile phones in these countries can have rates ranging from $.10 per minute to over $.50 per minute. They use Skype Credit and are not included in Skype Calling Plan subscriptions. At the time or writing calls to mobile phones in U.S., Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand Puerto Rico and Guam are included in a Skype Calling Plan subscription.

Fair Usage Policy:

A “Fair Usage” policy applies to Skype’s unlimited Calling Plan subscriptions. Calling is limited to:

  • 10,000 minutes per month
  • 50 numbers called per day
  • Six hours per day

In addition, a Skype Calling Plan subscription is limited to use with only one personal Skype account.


Skype Online Numbers:

Calling a Skype Online number will allow Skype users to receive calls from the PSTN on their Skype client.

  • They provide a personal online phone number via which callers can call into Skype on your PC, smartphone, TV or other Skype-enabled devices from any landline or mobile phone;
  • Skype Online Numbers are available for 23 countries
  • A Skype account can be associated with up to ten Skype Online Numbers; such that one can have a “local” U.S., U.K. and, say, France number.
    • Note that in Germany you must be a German resident to have a German Skype Online number
  • Skype Online numbers for business use can be provisioned with Skype Manager and/or Skype Connect.


A most common consumer application of Skype Online numbers is to provide “free” calling to expats living on another continent. For instance a U.S. citizen living in Europe can have his family call a U.S. Skype Online number for calls that will be received on their Skype client wherever they are in Europe. In fact, with call forwarding calls can be then go to a mobile phone, if Skype is not answered.

Skype To Go

Skype To Go is a service, available in 22 countries, which allows a Skype user to call friends, family and business associates in a remote country from the user’s landline or mobile phone at Skype rates. For instance, if you live in Toronto and have a relative in Australia, you can assign a Toronto phone number to make calls from your landline or mobile phone to the relative’s Australian landline or mobile phone using your Skype Calling Plan or Skype credit.

Calls are made through a designated “local” phone number. You can assign individual “local” phone numbers to as many as nine designated contacts worldwide. As a result, provided you are within your “local” Home calling region, landline and mobile calls can be made to these nine contacts using either Skype Credit or a Skype Calling Plan subscription. The called party answers the call on their remote landline or mobile phone.


For example, on the author’s Skype To Go plan, there are nine + 1 (416) or +1 (647) numbers which forward calls out to contacts in Canada, U.S., U.K. and Europe at the cost of a local landline or wireless call, since the author’s Skype Calling Plan comes into play.

Skype To Go numbers have two associated costs:

  • Your carrier: Any cost associated with making a call to a Skype To Go number, usually in the form of voice minutes on your calling plan with your wireless carrier.
  • Skype: Skype credit or a Skype Calling Plan subscription for the call out to your designated number.

Basically Skype To Go has become a plan for making low cost international long distance calls from a landline or mobile phone within the carrier’s “Home” territory. Skype’s warning: To avoid high roaming charges, always call from a phone registered to the same country or local calling area as a Skype To Go number.

You can register up to five phone numbers from which Skype To Go calls can be made; calling from other phones numbers requires the use of a PIN number as a security measure.

SMS Messaging

SkypeSMSReject.240pxSkype’s SMS Messaging allows you to send text messages from your Skype chat window to mobile phones worldwide. SMS Messaging rates start as low as 5 cents per message; they are based on the destination country of the message and tend to be in the $0.10 +/-$0.02 per message range for U.S., Canada, U.K. and most European countries.

Note that for some countries SMS messaging may only be one way from Skype to the mobile phone. At right is an example where the Canadian SMS message service will not forward SMS messages to Skype. In this case it is considered to be a notification service rather than a true conversation service that can be carried on via true SMS. An alternative is to converse by chat using Skype for iPhone or Android.




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