Call Skype for free from your mobile phone

A Norwegian company has developed a cable and software that can turn an old mobile phone into a wireless gateway for Skype.

A Norwegian company has found a use for that old cell phone that's been kicking around in your desk drawer.

IPdrum, of Oslo, has developed a cable and software that can turn an old cellular phone into a wireless gateway for Skype Technologies SA's Skype VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) application. A prototype of the cable was on display this week at the CommunicAsia 2005 exhibition in Singapore.

"Most of us have a drawer full of old [cell] phones," said Kjetil Mathisen, CEO (chief executive officer) of IPdrum.

The IPdrum Mobile Skype Cable connects a mobile phone to the USB and sound ports of a computer. When the IPdrum software is installed, the phone can be used as a gateway for the Skype application, allowing you to forward calls to the mobile phone that you carry around with you. Similarly, you can call the gateway to place a call using Skype.

The mobile gateway can also be used to send and receive SMS (short message service) messages over Skype, Mathisen said.

The Mobile Skype Cable will be particularly useful for users who have a cell phone plan that allows them to make free calls to phones on the same mobile network, or to a group of friends and family, Mathisen said. Users with this type of plan can use the cable to make free VOIP calls from anywhere using their cellular handset, he said.

In addition to the Mobile Skype Cable, IPdrum has developed a cable that can be used with conventional fixed-line phones, Mathisen said. However, the company has chosen to initially focus on the cable for mobile phones because of the availability of service plans that allow free phone calls between phones on the same mobile network, he said.

The Mobile Skype Cable and software will be available worldwide in August and is expected to retail for between US$60 and US$80, Mathisen said.

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