Skype opens up SIP business service to everyone

General beta for Skype for SIP begins today

Any business that has a corporate VoIP system can now use Skype's SIP trunking service as a way to cut the cost of corporate phone bills.

The Skype for SIP program goes into general beta testing today after being in limited beta since spring.

So you think you know Skype?

With the service www.skypeforsip.com customers can: enable click-to-call buttons on Web sites; receive inbound calls from Skype endpoints for no extra cost; set up direct-inward-dialing Skype phone numbers that reach desktops through IP PBXs; and, make outbound calls through IP PBXs via supplemental Skype Out service.

Customers must have a broadband Internet connection and configure the SIP settings on their IP PBXs so they can talk to SIP gear in Skype's network.

Skype has certified Cisco, Shortel and SIPfoundry IP PBXs to work with Skype for SIP and has 20 other vendors including Avaya that are working toward certification. The certification asserts that the technologies interoperate, and Skype provides documentation for certified gear on how to make them work together.

Uncertified SIP-compliant gear can be made to work with Skype for SIP, but users would have to configure it without the aid of product-specific documentation, the company says.

Skype says it has 10,000 businesses that signed up for the beta test, and expects more now that the test is opened to all comers.

The cost of the service is $7 per month per concurrent call channel, which enables one call. If customers sign up for Skype Out at 2.1 cents per minute, the call can be outbound.

Skype plans to monitor actual use of Skype for SIP in combination with Skype Out to determine common calling patterns that may influence new pricing schemes, says Matthew Jordan, enterprise business development manager for Skype. So, for example, part of the service might become free bursting above the number of individual call channels customers contract for so they don't lose calls during periods of high call volume, he says.

Another possibility might be enabling site-to-site outbound Skype for SIP calls between two sites that have Skype for SIP service. That could include corporate-owned sites as well as sites of business partners, he says.

To sign up, businesses register a Skype Business Control Panel and follow instructions for configuring their system to work with the service, Jordan says. The control panel lets businesses control Skype use, centralizes billing and reporting, and allocates Skype credit and Skype phone numbers. It also manages the businesses' internal employee Skype accounts.

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