Skype software coming to Wi-Fi/cell phones

Skype's VOIP software will now come installed on i-mate mobile handsets that are equipped with Wi-Fi and cellular capability.

Skype Technologies' VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) software will now come installed on mobile handsets from Carrier Devices' i-mate brand that are equipped with Wi-Fi as well as cellular capability.

Newly manufactured i-mate PDA2 and PDA2K Pocket PC phones will come with Skype's software for making calls over the Internet. The handsets will be equipped out of the box for users to start making Skype calls, Skype said in a statement Thursday.

The phones use Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PCs and have both GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile communications/General Packet Radio Service) and Wi-Fi wireless LAN capability. Carrier Devices also plans to put the Skype software in its i-mate JAM, a smaller version of the handset. With the Skype software, users can make calls over a broadband Internet connection through a Wi-Fi network, bypassing the provider of GSM/GPRS service.

Skype makes peer-to-peer VoIP software that lets users make voice calls to any other Skype user on the Internet for free. Through the Luxembourg-based company's SkypeOut service, users can make calls to fixed-line and mobile phones in countries around the world at a fraction of the cost of conventional international phone calls. Skype's software can be installed on some other Windows-based phones.

Earlier this month Skype announced a deal with Hutchison Global Communications, a fixed-line carrier in Hong Kong, for a co-branded VOIP service. Last year Skype joined with Siemens to offer a USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter device for some Siemens cordless phones that lets users make Skype calls.

I-mate, based in Dubai, has carrier and distributor partners across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Russia, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It is now planning a U.S. launch, according to the statement. I-mate will spotlight its deal with Skype at the 3GSM World Congress next week in Cannes, France.

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Stephen Lawson

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