TALK WAS ALWAYS CHEAP but Skype has taken it upon itself to make Internet voice over IP (VoIP) access free across the UK during the Internet Week festival.
The festival, which runs during the week of 8 November, is the first time such an event has been held outside the US, with a number of big name firms showing up, including Google and Yahoo. Realising this might be a good opportunity to push its VoIP services, Skype has decided to offer everyone in the UK free WiFi access.
Skype is providing free WiFi access as part of the firm's Skype Access pay-as-you-go Internet access offering, which users have to top-up in a similar fashion to the firm's Skype Out VoIP service. For the rest of this week, users will not have to pay up in order to use Skype Access - all that's required is to find a suitable WiFi hotspot.
In recent weeks rumours have persisted that Skype is readying itself for an initial public offering (IPO). The company, which was partly sold off to private investors by Ebay last year, needs to do something to promote its revenue hopes if it is to attract more investors in an IPO.
Offering free WiFi might not directly help it make money, but Skype must be hoping that a percentage of users who like the service will continue to use it. Associating itself with large events such as Internet Week should also help it grow its brand into what some might believe is the only VoIP solution out there.
However for the moment we think most Brits will be happy just to get some free WiFi, if they can find a suitable hotspot. µ