In a press release associated with its participation at Mobile World Congress Skype has announced an expansion of its Skype Access service to include eight additional hotspot operators. According to the press release:
With one click, Skype users can connect to the Internet through a WiFi operator partner in over 500,000 hotspots around the globe including 500 airports, 30,000 hotels and numerous cafes, trains, planes, offices buildings, and convention centers.
Rather than paying costly per day or per hour Internet access fees, Skype Access allows you to pay per minute using Skype Credit to control your costs at rates starting at £.04 /€.05/$.06per minute [including VAT]. All you need is a connection to a Skype Access compatible hotspot and the latest version of Skype for Mac or Windows.
Skype has arranged for free use of Skype Access across Spain (including at this week’s Mobile World Congress) for the week of Feb. 14 to 18, 2010 (using CET time zone). It would be interesting to know how many iPhone users are making Skype video calls to/from their colleagues attending the conference and the resulting load on the WiFi network.
At rates as low as £.04 /€.05/$.06 per minute Skype Access over these operators appear to be offering significantly lower than the $0.19 cents per minute charged for using Skype Access over Boingo with its over 200,000 WiFi hotspots worldwide (Boingo’s continued participation as a Skype Access partner has been confirmed).
The new Skype Access provider partners include:
- BT Openzone – The UK’s largest WiFi hotspot provider with a network of two million hotspots
- Fon – The world’s largest WiFi network with over 3.35 million Fon Spots across the globe
- M3 Connect – WiFi provider in Germany with hotspots in many hotels, fairgrounds, airports and places like the German Stock Exchange
- Row 44 – Provides the world’s leading in-flight broadband platform to commercial airlines around the world
- Skyrove – WiFi hotspot solutions for Guesthouses, Hotels and Coffee Shops throughout South Africa.
- Spectrum Interactive – Specializes in offering WiFi for the travel and media sector including airports and hotels across the UK
- Tomizone – WiFi provider in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific
- Vex – Offers WiFi services in thousands of locations around the world including South America
Bottom Line: Whereas the rates for using Skype Access over Boingo tended to make it a “last resort” WiFi access service (while avoiding costly carrier roaming charges), Skype Access has become a more accessible and reasonable cost alternative to travelers worldwide. On the other hand, when at a specific location, you usually have only one choice for WiFi carrier. At hotels and airports it represents an alternative to “daily” charges for short term access sessions during a stopover or brief hotel stay. Most importantly the WiFi “Unregulated Stealth Carrier” experience is now available to Skype users at over 700,000 locations worldwide.
- Skype Can Now Get You Access to 500,000+ Wi-Fi Hotspots (mashable.com)
- Skype buys a week of Wi-Fi for Spain (skypejournal.com)
- Skype launches global WiFi hotspot program (gizmag.com)