PROS / Skype is one of the cheapest VoIP services available, and it offers subscriptions with unlimited minutes.
CONS / It’s light on features, lacking call return, call blocking and most important, 911 calling ability.
VERDICT / If you are seeking a low-cost solution to long-distance or international calls, Skype is worth considering, but other VoIP services offer more features for the dollar.
Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about VoIP Services here.
Skype may be best known for its free video chat, but the company is also a provider of inexpensive VoIP services. While its pricing is hard to beat, Skype’s affordability is indicative of the service’s overall functionality and very basic set of calling features. You are also limited to making internet calls using your computer as a softphone, or installing the app on your smartphone.
Despite its bare-bones feature set, Skype’s service plans include all the features we looked for in the best VoIP providers. You can keep your current phone number or select a new one with an area code of your choosing, even if you don’t reside there. This VoIP service provides select international calling and unlimited minutes, depending on which of its plans you choose. You can also purchase minutes at a reduced rate.
You can manage your account through the Skype web interface and make VoIP calls through the Skype app on your internet-connected tablet or smartphone. However, you cannot use a regular telephone, like other VoIP services allow. Of course, with no hardware to install, Skype is easier to set up than most of its competitors; you simply install the software or mobile app to begin making VoIP calls.
This internet phone service provides call waiting, voicemail, caller ID and call forwarding. You can call people through your contacts list, which effectively makes it a speed dial function. The video conferencing feature is great for meetings or talking face-to-face virtually among friends. However, it lacks call return, call blocking and other convenient and useful features. Of particular note is the lack of 911 service. If you have a problem and need to call for emergency services, you will need a phone line other than your Skype internet phone.
The website houses a list of popular FAQs and help topics that focus on specific aspects of the service, including payment and billing, products and features, and technical issues. There are also helpful step-by-step tutorials, a VoIP glossary and user forums. While these are thorough, getting additional help is not easy. There is no convenient phone number or live chat. You'll need to log in with your Skype or Microsoft account to access customer support.
Skype is a good entry-level, low-cost VoIP service. The VoIP provider offers unlimited plans or minute bundles for cheap calling, and it is easy to install, even for less tech-savvy individuals. While its feature set is limited and you are restricted to using a softphone or mobile phone, Skype is worth considering if your VoIP needs are minimal.