Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Skype Zones

Skype Zones is a new product from Skype that helps you connect to Skype-friendly public Wifi hotspots, and also handles payment. It’s currently in beta, and only works on Windows 2000 and XP right now – no Mac, Linux or PocketPC versions yet.

But what’s most interesting is its prices. It only costs $3 US for 2 hours, or $8 for unlimited access for a whole month. If that applies in the UK, then that translates to pretty cheap Wifi – we’re used to paying up to £6 (over $10) per hour here. Furthermore, the Skype Zones service is available through The Cloud, who have 6000 hotspots in the UK, Germany and Sweden, including a number of bars and clubs. One reasonably accurate way of discovering whether an establishment is wifi-enabled is looking for an Itbox games machine – they’re usually connected up to The Cloud. The Cloud is also upgrading some BT payphones to offer Wifi.

Skype Zones’ billing service is actually provided by Boingo, though Skype themselves have developed the software which is installed in addition to any existing installation of Skype. If this really is as good as it sounds, then I may have to sign up.For too long Wifi has been prohibitively expensive in the UK; if this starts a trend of lower prices then I’m sure the technology will take off more here and be as ubiquitous as it is in parts of the US.


  1. So even if they just swap the dollar sign for a pound sign it doesn’t sound too expensive. In Europe I was using cyber cafes rather than wifi, but a Euro would give me anything between 10 and 15 minutes – usually with lots of horrible filtering. The only place I saw wifi advertised it was 4 Euros an hour.
    Really though I’d have thought would have taken off by now and there’d be lots more open wifi networks being shared.

  2. Free wifi isn’t that freely available in the States unless you use a coffee shop or wardriving software – using the latter is an entirely different status 🙂
    Now if skype vpn encrypted the wifi connection ala hamanchi or ipig then that really would be good.

  3. Actually reading the information a bit more closely, it looks like the software only allows you to use skype – so you end up paying for skype (to make external voice calls) and if you needed net access you’d still need to use wifi access (at a cost)

  4. Cool – it’s out of beta now.

  5. Andy: Not according to this article. The price includes access to usual internet stuff as well as VoIP over Skype.
    Joe: Nope, it’s still in Beta as far as I can tell.