Skype In is the service you should have if you want to receive a call from a PSTN or cell phone on your computer using Skype. This is a very interesting option, especially if you want to be reachable from anywhere locally as well as internationally while on the move.
You can take calls on your laptop equipped with audio input and output devices (like headset, or microphone and speakers), and being connected using wireless technologies.
To use SkypeIn, you have to buy one or more phone numbers, which will be associated with your Skype user account. Then you can give the number or numbers to any person who wishes to contact you through Skype from their conventional phones. In fact, you might give the number without mentioning anything about Skype if you want to be discreet, since the person calling you will hear the same sounds as for a conventional phone call and will be unaware that the call is being received on a computer. Your location will also not be known to the people who contact you.
How it works
Unfortunately, SkypeIn service is not offered everywhere in the world. At the time I am writing these lines, you can buy SkypeIn Numbers in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. Very restrictive, you would say. Well, Skype are working on other places.
You can buy up to 10 numbers in each place. Say you buy a number in New York and you travel to Mauritius (which is on the other side of the globe) for your holidays, and want a friend to be able to contact you through Skype. Your friend can call from New York using the SkypeIn number you gave them. Other people from other places can call too using that number.
How much does it cost?
Skype buys blocks of phone numbers from local phone companies in the locality in which the service is offered and sells them to SkypeIn users. They work out their mechanism in such a way that these numbers can be used to contact the Skype users.
You can buy SkypeIn numbers on subscription, for either a year or three months. For a year, it will cost €30 and for three months, €10. Prices are in Euro because Skype is European, most precisely from Luxemburg. You can easily convert that to dollars or any other currency.
How much does the caller pay?
When your friend calls from New York, his cost will be at the rate of a local call. If someone calls you from somewhere else (not in New York, where you bought the number/s), they will have to pay the cost of an international call from their place to New York plus the local (SkypeIn) cost of New York to you.
SkypeIn is offered with free voicemail. This means that if your friend calls and you are enjoying sun, sand and sea, away from you phone or computer, he can leave a voice message which you can listen to later, when you switch on your machine.