Skype is an inexpensive way to call phones and conduct video chats, making it a cost-effective alternative to a cell phone or landline. Without a strong signal, however, a Skype session can go downhill fast. By taking steps to optimize your Skype setup and improve your Internet connection, you can reduce noise and ensure a clear video stream.

Internet Signal

If you are using Skype over a wireless Internet network, the signal strength can impact your calls and video chats. By eliminating or reducing common sources of wireless interference, you can improve the quality of Skype sessions. One easy way to improve a wireless signal, according to PC Magazine, is to change the router channel to one that is less crowded. You can also update the router's firmware, change the position to a more central location, and move it away from large metal objects like desks and refrigerators. Place your Skype device as close to the router as possible, away from items that cause interference, like microwaves and cordless phones.

Network Speed

According to Skype, your Internet speed can have a significant impact on the quality of your voice and video cals. When making standard calls, Skype requires a minimum upload and download speed of 30kbps but recommends a speed of 100kbps. For high-definition video calling, the minimum upload and download requirement is 1.2Mbps, while the recommended speed is 1.5Mbps. If you are conducting group video calls, you will need faster download speeds. Both you and the person you are calling must meet the minimum requirements.

Computer Activity

When you are using Skype on a computer or mobile device, other applications may be competing for Internet bandwidth. To ensure that Skype can operate smoothly, turn off other applications that use your Internet signal. Don't forget about applications that run in the background, like email and social media apps. Pause any downloads or uploads you have in progress and stop any streaming video applications. Skype also recommends that you close any applications that are playing music, particularly those that stream music over the Internet.

Network Configuration

If you are using a relayed Internet connection, it can result in a slower Skype connection speed. You can check to see if your call is being relayed on a Windows machine by choosing "Call Technical Info" from the "Call" menu while you are making a Skype-to-Skype call. On a Mac, choose "Technical Call Info" from the "Window Menu." If the "SessionOut" and "SessionIn" fields contain "RELAY_UDP" or "RELAY_TCP," your firewall is likely the cause of a poor Skype signal. To update the setting, open your firewall and configure its Skype entry to make a direct connection.