Skype launches free Wi-Fi service

Users can sign in with their Skype ID for instant web access in cafes and shops.

Internet chat provider Skype is launching a free wireless broadband servicein public places such as shops, cafes and restaurants.

The company, owned by software giant Microsoft, has teamed up with wireless technology firm Wicoms to make the Free Skype WiFi service available throughout the UK and Ireland.

Anyone with a compatible device will be able to join a hotspot by signing in using their Skype ID with the Skype WiFi app.

Shadi Mahassei, programme manager for Skype Access, said: "Simplicity is at the heart of everything Skype does. We believe that internet access should be available to everyone in a simple and affordable way.

"Our partnership with Wicoms enhances our ability to make Skype universally accessible and expands on our Wi-Fi strategy, which today provides paid Wi-Fi access at over one million locations worldwide."

Unlike existing Skype Wi-Fi, which can be found at some UK airports, the Free Skype WiFi service does not require users to pay.

Over half of the people polled for a recent survey conducted by market research company YouGov on behalf of Wicoms who had used public Wi-Fi while out shopping said that they had found the experience generally poor.

The survey also found that half of the 18-34-year-olds polled would be more likely to buy something from as shop if the shop sent a discount voucher to their phone as they entered.

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