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Skype WiFi app offers cheap Internet access at 1 million hotspots worldwide

post #1 of 14
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In a move directed at international travelers, Skype on Wednesday released a new iOS application that will offer iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users access to over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the globe for a nominal pay-as-you-go basis.

The Skype WiFi application offers those on the go an alternative to pricey international data plans, which can fetch around $25 for just 20MB worth of downloads, by allowing them to connect to locally available WiFi hotspots for as little as 6 cents per minute.

Skype says it is working with a third party WiFi operators to provide access to over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centers, bars and restaurants, thus eliminating extra data roaming costs or other WiFi voucher purchases.

The application itself -- previously known as Skype Access -- is available as a free download from the App Store, but requires that users purchase Skype Credits in order to connect to one of the supported hotspots.

Prices for access to Skype WiFi hotspots start at US$ 0.06/4p/0,05 (inclusive of VAT) and there is no data cap in place, which means iPhone, iPod and iPod touch users can use the same hotspot connection without worrying about any traffic limitations.

In order to celebrate the new Skype WiFi app" and give users a chance to take it for a test spin, Skype said it plans to offer up to 60 minutes (or four 15-minute sessions) of free internet access for each unique Skype ID starting Saturday, August 20, 00:00 BST until Sunday, August 21, 23:59BST.



A leading provider of VoIP and instant messaging services, Skype also offers other iOS applications specifically designed for Apple's iOS devices that offer free voice calling and free video calling over WiFi, as well as chatting capabilities.

Those apps are direct competitors of native iOS applications, such as FaceTime and iMessage, the latter of which is an SMS-style WiFi messenger Apple plans to release as part of iOS 5.0 later this fall.
post #2 of 14
Way to go, Skype!

I hate having just a few minutes between flights and wanting to check my email - only to find that the minimum charge for WiFi access is $9.95 - or more. I'll definitely use this.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #3 of 14
I've heard of Boingo. It works OK for the people I know. My internet service provider gives me free WiFi access as part of my telephone service. When I move into an RV I'll sign up with Boingo if they still exist. Boingo didn't have a data cap. They just had a $9.95 per month charge. Skype will cost much more at six cents per minute.

If Apple gets Facetime out there as an open standard then the Skype (Microsoft) service will just not be necessary. Will Microsoft use back room influence to prevent other manufacturers from ever including Facetime capabilities into their products?

I've read on this message board that Facetime isn't as good as it could be. The video speed is jerky. Anybody here use Facetime regularly with great results or just so so quality?
post #4 of 14
This app is not really for the iPad. It's just the iPhone version and you have to blow it up to make it fill the screen, which looks horrible. Hopefully a native iPad version is on the Horizon.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

If Apple gets Facetime out there as an open standard then the Skype (Microsoft) service will just not be necessary. Will Microsoft use back room influence to prevent other manufacturers from ever including Facetime capabilities into their products?

Skype works on almost all computing platforms, iOS, Android, WP7, WebOS, OS X, Windows, Linux + you can all regular phones with it (for low prices, particularly international and awesome flatrates for eg the whole of Europe or the whole world) + you can get called from regular phones (you can get a Skype 'real' telefon number) and you can assign a real phone's number as caller ID in Skype.

Now, call me back if FaceTime does half of that. Apple could do their bit and release a Facetime clients for other platforms like Windows or Android. But they won't because at the time being they like to have an 'advantage' with FaceTime, a lock-in. And the integration with real telephones also isn't happening even though that is at least of half Skype's appeal and usage.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

I've read on this message board that Facetime isn't as good as it could be. The video speed is jerky. Anybody here use Facetime regularly with great results or just so so quality?

I use it at least 3-4 times per week and it's worlds better quality and speed, both for video and audio, than Skype or any of the other software packages I've tested. Is it gorgeous, no. Is it a ton better than the existing alternatives, absolutely.
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post #7 of 14
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Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

And the integration with real telephones also isn't happening even though that is at least of half Skype's appeal and usage.

It's interesting hearing that as I know at least a dozen or so people, none of which use (or to my knowledge even know of) that capability. We all use it for computer-to-computer texting and free video calling.
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post #8 of 14
This is great, Japan and China averaging around 19ยข per minute. Much better than earlier this year when in China I checked my email and was charged $30+ because my phone downloaded all my emails and I got hit with some b.s. AT&T data fee.

Only downside is MS owns Skype now, not a fan of MS getting my money... but sometimes you have to dance with the devil to save a buck.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

I've heard of Boingo. It works OK for the people I know. My internet service provider gives me free WiFi access as part of my telephone service. When I move into an RV I'll sign up with Boingo if they still exist. Boingo didn't have a data cap. They just had a $9.95 per month charge. Skype will cost much more at six cents per minute.

That would depend on your usage, wouldn't it?

I'm in airports a few times a month and need internet access just long enough to check my email. Since not all airports use Boingo, I'd need to sing up for Boingo and tmobile and 2 or 3 other plans - so it would be a lot more than $9.95 a month. And I would probably average no more than 100 minutes a month - at most.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

It's interesting hearing that as I know at least a dozen or so people, none of which use (or to my knowledge even know of) that capability. We all use it for computer-to-computer texting and free video calling.

That certainly depends a lot on what typical phone 'plans' offer. If they offer a lot of minutes, be it the cell phone or the fixed line, then you essentially already have close to a flat rate there. In Europe, you often find both, minute-based plans and plans with zero minutes (which cost you less if you don't talk a lot). On the fixed line services, national flat-rates are becoming more common but on cell phones you still can save a lot of money by not making calls (or making calls via VoIP).
On top of that the whole international calling is much more important in Europe, as it probably is among groups having an immigrant (or expatriate) connection anywhere in the world.
In Germany, you can get a 1 GB/month data contract but with zero minutes starting at 10/month, add Skype to that and you have a pretty low phone bill.
I pay about 30/month in a neighbouring country (with a little bit less competition) for only 250 MB/month (and zero minutes) on the provider with the best coverage but that includes a $400 phone subsidy every two years (ie, about 17/month).
post #11 of 14
So far not too impressed. I mis-entered my Skype name and it refused but went into the app anyway, now can't 'logout' to correctly enter. Also it's an iPhone app zoomed onto the iPad. And the only thing it does to help me get an access point is tell me to manually take a look for 1 of 4 wifi network names. The website too doesn't link to a list of access points (not for Australia anyway).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

I've read on this message board that Facetime isn't as good as it could be. The video speed is jerky. Anybody here use Facetime regularly with great results or just so so quality?

If you have a good quality connection Facetime works great. I have to use Skype to my parents in NZ because they have a slow upload speed and Skype will work (a bit jumpy, but we can talk).

Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

[The Facetime] integration with real telephones also isn't happening even though that is at least of half Skype's appeal and usage.

Apple started an entirely different model, but only got it PART right.

The model is that you can connect to anyone, because it IS a phone. So if you have a person's phone number you can get to them (and switch on video if it's available). Absolutely ubiquitous.

The problem is that Facetime is free, so human nature has us try to connect with Facetime first - and with that it rings even if it can't connect, and there's no voicemail. You also can't do a free audio call the same way, plus they've added a non-phone option so you can no longer guarantee a connection to someone (since you or they don't have a phone). And as you say Facetime has not been made an open standard.

The use of a phone number is really the key - and they need to go back to that as the 'fallback' for every connection attempted. So facetime for iPod Touch could integrate with the phone system like Skype does (as you say) and fall back to a phone connection if it can't make a connection. Similarly if I try to call a friend on a regular phone but they've also got facetime on their iPod Touch (or Mac), why not attempt a facetime connection to that too, let them answer whichever they prefer...

For facetime to work brilliantly - you need to make it always work. Enter the phone number and you'll get through, somehow, or at least get their voicemail. From that principle they can expand - free where possible, video messages, non-iPhone phones linked to facetime accounts, etc.
post #12 of 14
Is WIMAX big where you are? WIMAX is getting more interest here in Japan. I was just about to sign up for a hard line/internet service with an ISP here when it dawned on me that I'd be paying for a fixed line to my house for anywhere between $30-$60 when I could pay $30 for WIMAX which gives me internet around all over Japan. WIMAX here is 40mbps which is the same as most regular ISPs. The ISP JCOM is actually 160mbps download. Apparently the fastest in the world. That's just a regular home internet connection for about $40/month. But I don't need 160mbps. The WIMAX 40mbps is plenty enough considering that's the normal speed you get with the ISPs back home in North America. And actually back home ISPs would advertise for 5mbps and I'd be lucky to get 2.5bmps lol nuts.

It's pretty awesome. $30/month and I get 40mbps wireless internet for my iPhone/iPad anywhere in Japan. Can buy a global plan too.



.
post #13 of 14
This sounds fantastic. Paying by minute when you only need 5 mins to get check emails between flights/trains etc is a great idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

I've heard of Boingo. It works OK for the people I know. My internet service provider gives me free WiFi access as part of my telephone service. When I move into an RV I'll sign up with Boingo if they still exist. Boingo didn't have a data cap. They just had a $9.95 per month charge. Skype will cost much more at six cents per minute.

If Apple gets Facetime out there as an open standard then the Skype (Microsoft) service will just not be necessary. Will Microsoft use back room influence to prevent other manufacturers from ever including Facetime capabilities into their products?

I've read on this message board that Facetime isn't as good as it could be. The video speed is jerky. Anybody here use Facetime regularly with great results or just so so quality?

Comparing this service to a $9.95/month charge is completely missing the point of this. It is to avoid the stupid minimum $3/$5 charge that Wi-Fi hotspots love to charge.

As for Facetime. It's great, but no one uses it. Nearly everyone I know uses Skype (including my parents and grandparents), just like how nearly everyone uses Facebook. Until Facetime is on every device (Facetime for Andriod and Facetime for Windows?) and everyone is using it instead of Skype, it will be a moribund service.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

This app is not really for the iPad. It's just the iPhone version and you have to blow it up to make it fill the screen, which looks horrible. Hopefully a native iPad version is on the Horizon.

Does looks really matter, when the app is allowing you to contact to hotspots and nothing else?
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