What Is Skype WiFi?

Skype
Skype

Skype WiFi is a service offered by Skype that allows you to have data connectivity for Skype and other VoIP voice and video calls, and any other Internet use, on your mobile device at several locations around the world. Skype claims there are one million such WiFi hotspots that offer their networks against payment by the minute.

How Skype WiFi Works

While you are on the move, you can connect to the Internet through one of the hotspots that Skype provides (sub-contracts). You pay using your Skype credit. You are billed by the minute directly through Skype and have no dealing with the owner of the WiFi hotspot. You are however subject to the terms and conditions of the network operator, a link to which you will be presented while selecting and engaging yourself with the network. Presumably, this would include restrictions on the use of the network, generally for the prohibition of unethical use, for instance.

What You Need

The requirements are simple. You need your mobile device – laptop, netbook, smartphone, tablet – that supports WiFi.

Then you need the Skype WiFi app running on your smartphone or tablet. You can download it from Google Play for Android (version 2.2 or later) and Apple App Store for iOS. As of now, there is no app for BlackBerry, Nokia, or other platforms. For laptops and netbooks, Skype WiFi is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. If you have the most recent version of Skype on your machine, the service is already set and available. If not, then update your Skype.

Finally, you need Skype credit to pay for the minutes of connection you use. So you want to make sure that you have enough credit not only for the calls but also for the connection.

How to Use It

Whenever you need a WiFi connection, open the app (using your smartphone or tablet) or go to the WiFi section of the Skype app on your computer (Tools > Skype WiFi on Windows). A window will open proposing the different available networks or the one whose range you are in, with the price. You select to connect. The default online time is 60 minutes, but you can change it to twice or thrice that much. When you are done, disconnect with one click or touch.

Be mindful of the price and do some pre-calculation before engaging in order to avoid surprises when checking your credit. Once you connect, you will not be billed for data consumption but for each minute you use. This means that you can download and upload anything you want – email, YouTube, surf, video call, voice call, etc. – without worrying about the bulk, but only about the time. It would help here to know beforehand the speed of connection of the network because you don’t want to engage in a network with low bandwidth, as time is money.

Who Needs Skype WiFi?

Most people don’t need Skype WiFi. Users will have either their home or office WiFi connections, which are free. When they are on the move, they use mobile data. Also, people living in big cities are likely to have free WiFi around every corner and will not need it. While most of us will not consider having the app now, it can be very useful in the following cases:

  • You are traveling. You have reached an airport, a train station or any place where your cellular number is no longer in use (you are out of the network scope, and not paying for expensive roaming), and where you subsequently don’t have 3G or 4G networks. Then, you are completely cut-off with your world back home. You can’t even make a traditional cell call. Skype WiFi can help by connecting you through via one of its paid hotspots. You can then make calls even to landlines.
  • You don’t have a data plan and you need connectivity. One of Skype’s WiFi hotspots can help.
  • You don’t have a phone – and there are many plausible and silly reasons for not having a phone with you. You can use your portable computer and Skype WiFi to communicate.

It is also a fact that you may not find any available network in a place or situation where you need the service. Internet penetration is quite different throughout different parts of the world.

What It Costs

The app itself is free. The service is charged at rates that vary from hotspot to hotspot. You actually don’t really have a choice based on price, because which network you will connect to will depend on where you are and what is available. Some networks cost around 5 cents per minute while others are ten times more expensive. But generally, the prices are lower than what some network operators charge. Also, check the currency on the price tag – do not assume everything to be in dollars.