Say the words ‘VoIP’ or ‘video call’ and chances are that 9 out of 10 people will think Skype. Skype has become so popular over the years that the volume of international traffic routed using the service makes it the largest international voice carrier in the world.
Needless to say, we were curious when it was announced this month that the VoIP giant was getting more serious about their business offerings. Skype’s main business products include: Skype for Business and Skype Manager, an admin portal of sorts that lets users create and manage multiple Skype accounts. The business version has all the things you’ve come to expect from Skype, including free Skype-to-Skype and video calls. It also comes with paid features such as voicemail boxes and number forwarding—some of the very basic features a business would need.
A couple of weeks ago, Skype Connect was added to the mix. What is Skype Connect? You can think of Skype Connect as the Skype version of our PSTN Gateway service. For $6.95 per line per month, users can integrate Skype Connect with their existing PBX systems to make calls at cheaper Skype rates—outgoing ‘Skypeout’ rates to landlines and mobile devices are 2.1 cents per minute. Skype Connect users also get a few other benefits like free inbound Skype calls, and a Click to Call button to put on their websites. Just for comparison, our own PSTN gateway service costs $ 9.95 per account (lines are free) with an outbound calling rate of 2.9 cents per minute.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to think of Skype Connect yet. Is it cheaper than already existing gateway services? It can be, but not in every situation. For example, let’s say that a 15-line account was choosing between Skype Connect and an existing PSTN gateway service that charged a flat fee ($9.95) per account with a higher cost per minute fee (2.9 cents instead of 2.1 cents). With Skype, you would start with a flat fee of 15 x 6.95 = $104.25. With our PSTN Gateway solution, you would start at a base fee of $9.95. That’s a difference of $94.30.
How many minutes do you need to be using per month before Skype Connect starts making sense in this situation? About 11,788 minutes, or 196 hrs. Split that between 15 employees and that comes out to around 13 hrs a month per user on PSTN calls. Anything less than that, and you’d actually be spending more with Skype. You’d need to throw in more variables like international calls and Skype-Skype calling to make Skype Connect a clear winner. (Perhaps this makes sense for a medium to large business with an international call center?)
When it comes down to it, Skype Connect is a PSTN trunking service with a seemingly niche pricing structure. It is another service in the mix, from which businesses can choose based on their size, existing equipment, and calling patterns.