Switching on to Skype

In fact, if they are able to terminate all calls with Skype, they can eliminate long distance costs altogether.
Sounds great – but how do you connect Skype to your existing phone system?  There’s now a cost-effective method for doing this that delivers ongoing cost savings, while paying for itself in a matter of months.

The skinny on Skype

First, a quick refresher on what Skype is.  It supports free Internet-based voice calls between Skype users located anywhere in the world.  You can also use SkypeOut to connect to standard PSTN phones at low cost, and lease a SkypeIn number to receive incoming calls from non-Skype users worldwide. 
The upshot is, if you make frequent or lengthy long-distance or international calls – whether inter-office or to other parties – Skype can slash your telecoms bills.  It’s surely a business no-brainer.
However, the problem has been that Skype sits on users’ PCs, separated from the office phone system.  So there’s no control over Skype usage, and no easy, manageable way to put Skype’s features at the disposal of all employees.

Crossing the divide

The good news is, the divide between Skype and the PBX has been bridged with new gateways that offer four or eight outgoing Skype lines in a stackable, rack-mountable design.  These can be installed in under half a day, with zero changes to existing PBX equipment, phones, or PCs.
The gateway allows users to make and receive Skype calls on their regular office phones instead of having to use a PC and headset.  User training is negligible – we’re all used to dialling ‘9’ for a phone line:  with the gateway, users still dial ‘9’ for PSTN and simply dial ‘8’ for Skype and then continue as normal.  Apart from the installer and the IT team, users don’t even need to know they are making calls via Skype.

Apps matter

OK, so what does this mean?  Businesses with multiple locations — retail outlets, for instance — can put an exchange at each site, which not only saves on outgoing calls to customers and vendors, but also makes intra-office calls Skype-to-Skype, which are completely free-of-charge. The same holds for remote workers, who can use Skype to access office phone facilities for free.
nother significant application is the ability to support click-to-talk.  By enabling new and existing customers to contact sales or customer support directly via Skype over a Web click-through, this not only enables free calling for both you and the customer from anywhere in the world and reduces operating costs, but also improves overall customer service levels.
Skype can also support your bid for global domination, offering a low-cost means of setting up virtual offices internationally.  With a leased SkypeIn number costing just £30 per year, companies looking to expand overseas can set up a local company contact number which will automatically route non-Skype callers onto the company’s phone system, so that all calls can be handled centrally at your headquarters or call centre.

Billing benefits

The other big benefit of integrating Skype into an existing phone system, is ongoing cost savings.  Skype offers free calls between Skype users and charges pennies per minute for calls to non-Skype users – even for calls to overseas destinations.  Experience in the US, where call charges are even lower than in the UK, shows that these gateway solutions pay for themselves in as little as four months.
Global sporting equipment manufacturer K2 installed the VoSKY Exchange gateway in its corporate headquarters to allow Internet-based Skype calls to be routed to and from users’ standard desk phones over the office PBX.
Sean Andrew, IT Director for K2’s Carlsbad headquarters said: “VoSKY Exchange enabled us to extend our existing PBX system to incorporate the power of Skype without the complexities and headaches associated with other VoIP solutions.
“The upshot is that we were able to achieve a return on our investment within one month and are continuing to save thousands of dollars on landline and mobile phone charges each month.”
Unlimited anytime, anywhere minutes for your business
Users at K2 headquarters can make Skype calls from their existing desk phones with no need to install Skype client software on their office PCs or use a PC/headset setup during Skype conversations. 
Mobile workers and those in satellite K2 offices can call any colleague in the Carlsbad headquarters by clicking K2 headquarters’ main Skype ID through their own Skype-equipped laptops or desktops and entering the appropriate office extension.  In both scenarios, calls are free because VoSKY Exchange automatically directs Skype calls to the Skype network.