Skype as a Minute Stealer

MyToGo connects your most used PSTN phones to reach your most frequently called Skype Contacts.

While Skype provides the ability to call another Skype user anywhere in the world at no cost and to call PSTN numbers worldwide for minimal charges (except for calls to non-North American mobile phones that can run an order of magnitude larger than "minimal"), we are not always at a device, such as a PC or Skype phone, which has direct access to Skype. We have already seen services on mobile devices that allow you to chat via Skype IM on the mobile device while using the underlying wireless network to facilitate attachment to a Skype gateway that completes a Skype call from the wireless device. Now arriving on the scene are three "ToGo" services that allow you to connect to Skype on your PC from any PSTN phone device.(landline and/or mobile) with the phone’s inherent touchtone dialpad as the user interface.

Mobivox was the initial service that provides, via local access numbers in over 40 countries, an ability to call your Skype Contacts by issuing voice commands. Works from any phone platform, but does require registration with Mobivox and a directory of POP access points. There could arise speech recognition issues if your English is not clear enough. No IM component; nothing to download to the device, no Skype on the PC required.

SkypeToGo is a recently launched Skype Pro service that allows you to turn one most frequently called remote (usually international) into a "local" number from within your local calling zone. With SkypeToGo, you can call, from any PSTN phone, an assigned "local" number which, via Skype, will connect you to the single designated remote (international) number. Great for building personal relationships with that "significant other" who happens to live in a remote country or a business relationship with your most important international customer. With SkypeToGo you will still pay wireless minutes or any landline connection charges to the assigned "local" number plus the SkypeOut charges associated with calling the destination number. So SkypeToGo works as:

Any “local” phone –> SkypeToGo “local” number –> one designated International phone

Skype UberDeveloper Don Kennedy’s ZOverLord Creations has offered up for beta testing a new service called MyToGo, combining SkypeIn, the recently launched Skype Call Transfer and Skype’s Speed Dial feature, to reduce the costs for calling up to 396 destinations worldwide. At the calling end, however, you are limited to calling from three phone numbers: your mobile phone, your home phone and your office phone (or appropriate proxies). But these are the phones from which you would probably place most of your calls when away from a direct Skype client access situation.

MyToGo requires installation of the MyToGo program, a SkypeIn number and, to call SkypeOut numbers, a Skype Pro subscription. It starts by asking you to add three SkypeOut contacts to your Skype Contacts:

  • your mobile phone with SpeedDial 96,
  • your home phone with Speed Dial 97 and
  • your office phone with Speed Dial 98.

Also you need to assign Speed Dial numbers to all those (up to 99) Skype Contacts whom you would potentially like to reach from any of these three phone numbers. Here’s how it works:

  • Leave Skype running on a PC (requires Skype 3.5 as MyToGo uses Call Transfer)
  • Make sure MyToGo is also running
  • Call, from any of your three calling number devices, your SkypeIn number
  • The call will answer at Skype on your PC after the first (and only) ring and go into Call Transfer mode
  • Enter the Speed Dial number of the party you wish to reach at their Skype destination, followed by the # key. So, for instance, enter on the phone’s dialpad "34#".

This transfers the call to the requested Skype destination. But calls to Skype parties only allows access to up to 99 destinations. (more about actual Speed Dial ["SD"] numbers used later).

If your Skype Contact has entered his/her mobile, home and office phone numbers into their Skype Contact Profile you can also call them at any of these numbers:

  • Leave Skype 3.5 running on a PC
  • Make sure MyToGo is also running.
  • Call, from any of your three calling number devices, your SkypeIn number
  • The call will answer at Skype on your PC after the first (and only) ring and go into Call Transfer mode
  • Enter the Speed Dial number of the party you wish to reach at their Skype destination, followed by the "*" key. Then enter "1#", "2#" or "3#" to call their Skype Contact profile mobile, home or office phone, respectively as desired. So, for instance, enter on the phone’s dialpad "34*2#" to reach your desired Contact on his/her home phone.

With MyToGo you will still pay wireless minutes or any landline connection charges to your SkypeIn number plus any SkypeOut charges associated with calling the destination number.

MyToGo potentially allows for access to as many as 297 additional phone numbers — if you can remember all the Speed Dial numbers. How do we get to 396?

  • You can assign as an acceptable Speed Dial any two digit number from 01 to 99, except those where the digit is the same (11, 22, 33, … , 88, 99); total = 90
  • But you can also assign as Speed Dial numbers the single digit numbers 1,2,3, … 8, 9; total = 10
  • And each Speed Dial can access up to four of the Skype Contact’s destinations: Skype, mobile, home, office. Final result: 396 destinations.

Comments:

  • MyToGo turns your Skype configuration into a personal PBX where you call into one number and effectively select your desired Contact as an extension.
  • Use of Call Transfer to SkypeOut numbers requires SkypePro to make calls to your Contacts’ mobile/home/office number; however, a SkypePro subscription also gets you a 50% discount on SkypeIn.
  • The actual Call Transfer process should only take about two or three "rings" (you will hear a unique ringing while the Call Transfer is being made). During the beta testing, Don made some modifications to take the Call Transfer down to acceptable times for waiting fo a Call Transfer to occur.
  • You do need to leave your PC running with Skype and the MyToGo client running but there is no other special setup required.
  • There is nothing to install on the calling device; just use the device’s native touchtone dialpad.
  • And Don’s motivation for doing this (aside from his deep knowledge of the Skype API’s): you can make Skype calls from an iPhone.
  • 99 Contacts would be a stretch to remember but it is certainly a practical service for ten to twenty of your most frequently called contacts where calls would be otherwise somewhat expensive.. So the logical next development should be a PBX-type of voice directory for all your contacts that can be accessed by spelling the contact’s name on the dialpad. ("Dial 9 for our company directory".)
  • It works most effectively in countries with a SkypeIn number. With a US-based SkypeIn number I have done my testing using my home phone landline that has an ultra low cost long distance service attached. (SkypeIn is not available for Canadian numbers.)
  • The double digit numbers 11,22,33, etc. can still be used for Speed Dial from your Skype client on your PC; they just won’t work with the MyToGo service.
  • Worth considering for students moving into residence this month and the parents who often pay the telephone bill.
  • Don needs a simple logo that we can put in our posts for his next innovation.

And the beat for circumventing expensive long distance calling charges goes on….

P.S. Just as I finished writing this post, Phil put up his post showing Shape Services’ IM+ for Skype Software running on an iPhone, complete with Chat capabilities. With the Mobivox, MyToGo and IM+ offerings, it seems the Skype for iPhone gap is filling up quite rapidly.

Tags: Skype, MyToGo, Skype Call Transfer, SkypeIn, SkypOut, ZOverLord Creations, Mobivox, IM+ for Skype Software, SkypePro, Don Kennedy, Skype API, Skype Speed Dial

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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