Skype Technologies SA announced Monday a beta version of its popular voice-over-IP service for businesses that have IP-based switches running on the Session Initiation Protocol.
The Luxembourg-based company said the beta is open to a limited number of developers and others who can apply at its Web site. Pricing for the new product, called Skype for SIP for Business, will be announced when the software launches later this year, said Chris Moore, senior product manager at the Skype for Business unit.
Skype, founded in 2003, is a subsidiary of eBay Inc. and has 405 million registered users who use Skype software to communicate for free through voice and video calls and instant messages. Skype's revenue is generated through premium offerings such as calls made to and from land lines and mobile phones and text message services.
Moore said Skype for SIP gives companies the opportunity to connect their standard IP voice switches from Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. or other vendors to Skype, as long as they use a SIP interface.
"We're leveraging our infrastructure for Skype In and Skype Out services and opening an interface to enterprises to connect that provides a very resilient network," Moore said.
The new software is intended to allow a company to offer free inbound calls from Skype clients so that anyone can call free of charge from anywhere in the world. "It's like a replacement for a business 800 service," he said. Once the callers to a business connect to the business voice switch, its call distribution and voice-mail services can be used as in any other call, he noted.
In addition to eliminating costs for calls to the home office by employees traveling abroad, the software will also allow the 405 million registered Skype users to call for free.
Skype does not provide emergency 911 services on its system, and the same approach will apply to the new Skype for SIP service, a spokeswoman said. Any emergency calls would be subject to the standards and policies set in the enterprise IP switch.