Skype International and Boingo Wireless announced a partnership Tuesday that will allow users to access Skype's VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) technology from 18,000 Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide.
Available in coffee shops, book stores and hotels, as well as other public places, Skype Zones powered by Boingo are geared not only toward business travelers and students but also toward any wireless user in search of cheap international calling, Skype spokesperson Kelly Larabee said.
Skype Zones offer VOIP users unlimited access to Boingo's public broadband for US$7.95 per month. Also, infrequent users can pay US$2.95 for a two hour connection, the companies said in a press release.
The version of the product that is currently available on Skype's Web site is a beta one, however, and the company pointed out that prices and availability may change before the final version is released.
Luxembourg-based Skype International's existing offers will remain, Larabee added. As of now the company gives users the ability to make free calls to other Skype users over the Internet and also allows its customers to make VOIP calls to traditional fixed line and mobile networks at significantly reduced rates.
The VOIP industry is young but growing rapidly -- Skype claimed that as of June 22 its 43 million user base is growing by 140,000 users a day.
Companies such as Skype, Boingo, and competitor Broadreach Networks look to capitalise on developing mobile technology such as mobile Internet telephony in order to keep adding users.
Though the largest percentage of the Boingo hot spots that are used by this product are located in the US many are spread across 35 other countries, according to the company's Web site, 379 of these are in Australia.