Skype woos SMBs with new deal

The Skype Small Business Pack gives SMBs ten 5-month subscriptions to the new Skype Pro software, plus programs to integrate this into a manageable whole, including Skype for Windows Business Edition, and the MSI Windows Installer used for multi-PC installation. The package also includes 50 Euros-worth of call credit.

Skype has launched a package for small businesses in Europe that bundles up the company's software with call credits and subscriptions for multiple users.

The Skype Small Business Pack gives SMBs ten 5-month subscriptions to the new Skype Pro software, plus programs to integrate this into a manageable whole, including Skype for Windows Business Edition, and the MSI Windows Installer used for multi-PC installation. The package also includes 50 Euros-worth (AU$83) of call credit.

The Skype Small Business Pack is scheduled to launch in Australia in October this year.

The company said customers would pay 99 Euros (plus tax) for a package that would normally cost 150 Euros (plus tax) if bought separately. The particular benefit of Skype Pro is that is provides free local and national-rate calls within a customer's home country for all employees using it, a large potential saving when compared with the PSTN.

The package has its own online control panel to assign bought credit to different users, providing a consolidated view of total usage.

What's less clear is whether after Skype's recent serious service outage, small businesses will be in any mood to trust it. As a number of rivals have pointed out, one of the disadvantages of Skype's proprietary call protocol is that its calls can't be routed over other SIP-compliant networks in the event of a problem

Others have cast doubt on the program's underlying design, which is based on a sophisticated P2P scheme that turns some of its customer's PCs into 'supernodes'. The company's explanation that the service went down last week due to a problem Microsoft Windows patch has also been challenged.

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John E. Dunn

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