updated 04:45 pm EST, Tue February 15, 2011
Skype Access expands to more than 500,000
At the Mobile World Congress, Skype introduced new partners in its Skype Access program. This partner program lets Skype users pay for access to Wi-Fi hotspots from a number of partner companies from their Skype accounts. This way, they can access the networks on a pay-as-you-go, per-minute basis rather than needing to pay by the hour, as is usually the case.
The number of Skype Access compatible hotspots has now exceeded 500,000, including some 500 airports, 30,000 hotels and more. Skype will also offer free Skype Access throughout these partners in Skype until February 18, the day after Mobile World Congress.
The list of Skype Access partners includes BT Openzone, Fon, M3 Connect, Row 44, Skyrove, Spectrum Interactive, Tomizone and Vex. All are spread throughout the world, including the UK, Germany, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific.
At the same time, a new Mobile Partner Program was announced. Meant to allow providers with low 3G broadband access, it aims to bring Skype service to let feature phones access the Skype VoIP service. This modified version of Skype uses a special client/server solution made to provide efficient bandwidth usage, with an emphasis on low battery drain and data usage. Skype has created similar partnerships with Verizon, KDDI and Huthinson 3. [via Yahoo]