Skype users gain free Wi-Fi access across UK, Ireland

Skype will offer free Wi-Fi access to its users in UK and Ireland with the promise of removing the cumbersome authentication screens imposed by free Wi-Fi services located in High Street shops, cafes and pubs.

The new service, launched in co-operation with Wi-Fi infrastructure firm Wicoms, enables Skype customers to access the service using the existing Skype Wi-Fi app and their service ID.

The Skype Wi-Fi service is already available as a chargeable service in some locations including airports, but will now be offered free with the costs being carried by the retailer, cafe or bar owner. Businesses interested in adopting the Skype service can purchase packages starting from £9.99 per month together with a £49 router.

Skype say that businesses will be attracted to purchase the Wi-Fi package because the service will attract consumers and also provide the business with the ability to interact with potential buyers by offering marketing messages and discounts.

A recent survey conducted by Wicoms claims that around one-third of 18-34 year olds are browsing Amazon, eBay or Google on their mobile phones to compare prices and products while out shopping. However, the survey also revealed that over 50 per cent of this age group would be more likely to purchase something from a store there and then, if the store was able to send a discount or voucher to their phone when they entered.

For its part, Skype hopes this free service will boost the popularity of its VoIP technology, especially on mobile phones.

"Simplicity is at the heart of everything Skype does. We believe that internet access should be available to everyone in a simple and affordable way," Shadi Mahassel, program manager for Skype Access, said in a statement.  "Our partnership with Wicoms enhances our ability to make Skype universally accessible and expands on our Wi-Fi strategy, which today provides paid Wi-Fi access at over one million locations worldwide."

For more:
- see this Wicoms release
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)
- see this TechWorld article

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