Skype comes to Siemens' cordless phones

Skype Technologies is teaming with Siemens to offer cordless phone users the ability to make Internet telephony calls, in addition to traditional calls, from their handsets.

On Wednesday Siemens introduced a USB (Universal Serial Bus) adaptor fitted with Skype software that allows users of several models of its new cordless phones to access Skype offerings such as free calls, buddy lists and conference calling. The functionality is only being offered in Europe.

The Gigaset M34 USB adaptor plugs into a user's PC and communicates with the phone's base station to make or receive Skype calls. Skype, based in Luxembourg, has become a leading provider of VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) by offering software that allows users to make free worldwide calls to other Skype users, and cut-rate calls to nonusers. The company says its free software has been downloaded 32 million times since August.

Skype's partnership with Siemens pushes it into a new direction, off of the desktop and into more traditional telecom areas. The Siemens adaptor was developed using Skype's recently released API (application programming interface), and is expected to be the beginning of a wave of applications built to integrate Skype.

The new adaptor works with Siemens' Gigaset C340/345, Gigaset CX340/345isdn, Gigaset S440/445, Gigaset SX440/445isdn, Gigaset S645 and Gigaset SL440 phones. The adaptor is priced at about Euro 99 (US$128.) and is available in local retail outlets.

A Siemens representative said that while the offering is currently only available in Europe, the company is testing in other regions.

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