Skype launches business based beta

Skype has announced today the release of a beta version of the programme aimed at corporate users.

Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, has been a focus of Skype's since last year. It will allow private branch exchange (PBX) owners to receive Skype calls directly into their system and take advantage of the low cost calls to landlines and mobiles.

Stefan Oberg, vice president and general manager of Skype for Business, said: "The introduction of Skype for SIP is a significant move for Skype and for any communication intensive business around the world."

"It effectively combines the obvious cost savings and reach of Skype with its large user base, with the call handling functionality, statistics and integration capabilities of traditional office PBX systems, providing great economical savings and increased productivity for the modern business."

By using SIP, businesses will have access to over 405 million Skype registered users who can then use the click-to-call function to contact them directly from their business websites. The calls will then be received through their existing office system without costing the customer a penny.

Companies signed up to the system will also be able to use Skype's low-cost global calling rates when placing calls to landlines and mobiles across the globe from devices connected to their PBX systems.

There is also the option to purchase an online Skype number. These are available in over 20 countries and can receive calls from business contacts and customers who are using traditional fixed lines or mobile phones.

Rebecca Swensen, IDC's research analyst for Enterprise Mobility and IP Communications Services, said: "Businesses have been waiting for Skype to make a concerted push into the business space for a while. Connecting to existing standards-based SIP PBX's is a good way for Skype to start doing so. It will be interesting to see how large companies change their thinking about the deployment of Skype within the network."

Applications to join the beta service are being accepted from today at Applicants will need to be businesses, have an installed SIP based IP-PBX system, and have the ability to configure their own SIP-enabled PBX. The initial beta is available to a limited number of participants only and during the beta period all calls will be charged at standard Skype rates.

Skype plan to launch SIP fully later this year.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.