[Most recent update at the foot of the post.]
In all fairness, this is a rarity, but according to many reports on Twitter, Skype is officially down for many.
I have access here in Europe, and it appears to be working fine in the Middle East and Asia, but many across the US are reporting they are unable to access the VOIP service.
Official update on the Skype status blog says:
We’re having some problems with our sign in server, so you may not be able to sign in to the Skype application or to your account as normal.
[2009/01/21@1746UTC] If you’re already signed in to the Skype application on your computer or mobile phone, you should be able to call/IM/etc as normal. This is only affecting people who aren’t already signed in.
[2009/01/21@1752UTC] Our forums are experiencing heavy traffic and so access may be slower than usual. Apologies! For more updates, watch this space or follow @skype on Twitter.
If you’re looking for alternatives, here are a few suggestions courtesy of Dumb Little Man:
Vbuzzer allows users to send instant messages after downloading the software onto their computer. US and Canada residents can also enjoy free Internet faxing with this provider. VoIP services are available and start at 1.5c/min.
This software promises great results to existing Skype users. Sending an SMS to a US based account holder from the US will only cost you 8 cents per message.
3. Smart VoIP
SmartVoIP is another VoIP client that promises you cheap rates and great service.
If video calling with several friends (or business partners) is your thing then ooVoo is a great client to research further.
Probably known to most Gmail users, Google Talk is directly integrated into your Gmail account.
iChat is the instant chat messaging suite for Mac users.
Recently acquired Jajah promises to connect you free of charge to any phone in the world on your first call. You simply insert your own home number, then your friend’s number and press the green call button on their website.
[2009/01/12@2002UTC] We’ve made some changes which should improve things. Stand by!