I have written several times about Skype and also about wi-fi networks for travelers. Now the two are available together.
The old Skype Access application has been re-written and updated, and the name has also been changed. Now known as Skype WiFi, the application is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as well as for Windows and Macintosh laptop computers, and it brings wi-fi access (for a fee) to one million wi-fi locations worldwide. The application is not limited to Skype. While you can use Skype WiFi to make low-cost phone calls, you can also use it to provide full Internet access for any Windows, Macintosh, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch application, including web browsers, email, and thousands of other applications as well.
You can sign up for the Skype WiFi service at any time. You must first have a (free) Skype account with Skype Credit.
There is no charge for Skype WiFi until you connect to an affiliated wi-fi network. In other words, there is no monthly minimum charge. Prices start at US $0.06/€0,05/£0.04 (inclusive of VAT) per minute of connected time. There is no charge for the number of bytes transferred – only for the connection time. That's not cheap by any means, but it is cheaper than a number of other plans that charge a monthly minimum, whether you use the plan or not. This sounds like a good plan for the infrequent traveler who only needs occasional online access.
Your charges will appear on your existing Skype Credit billing.
The big drawback I see is that each session can only last a maximum of 30 minutes. At that point, the user will be disconnected and asked to reconnect. That's a hassle. Then again, it prevents the user from running up huge charges when accidentally forgetting to disconnect.
Of course, you are not limited to Skype WiFi. Even after the new software is installed, you can continue to use any available free wi-fi service or a competitive paid service, if available. The new software simply adds one more option wherever Skype WiFi is available.
I downloaded and installed the new Skype WiFi application on an iPhone 4 today and used it briefly. It is super easy to install and configure. When launched for the first time, the application asked for my Skype user name and password. I entered that information, and then a menu appeared, showing a nearby wi-fi network that is affiliated with Skype. I touched the network's icon and was connected. That was it! Simple.
I would suggest that you consciously log off after each use. Don't simply exit the application and think you are done. You might be still connected and incurring charges without you realizing it. Make sure you disconnect!
Skype didn't install a million new wi-fi access points. Instead, the company apparently negotiated agreements with Boingo, Econolodge, FON, Swisscom, Tengo, and other third party wi-fi operators around the world. The new Skype WiFi application simplifies the sign-on process, allowing the use of your Skype user name and password to sign onto any of hundreds of wi-fi networks and also providing one standard billing method for all.
I'll be starting an intensive travel schedule next week, and suspect I'll be using the new Skype WiFi application frequently, both on the iPhone and on a laptop computer. I like the idea that I will only pay for the minutes I use. If I don't use Skype WiFi for a few months, there is no charge.
For more information about Skype WiFi for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, go to http://goo.gl/eWtNi.
For more information about Skype WiFi for Windows or Macintosh, go to http://goo.gl/paZ2i.
If you enjoyed this article, Tweet it, share it on Google+, Facebook or on your preferred social network.
Republishing of this article in newsletters, blogs, and elsewhere is allowed and encouraged. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/hoHH1.
Of course, if you haven’t done so already, you should join my email newsletter mailing list to stay current on my latest articles and announcements. You can also cancel at any time within seconds. I promise to never, ever send you any unrequested e-mail, other than newsletter updates.