Skype has signed an agreement with hotspot provider Wicoms that will allow the VoIP company to offer free Wi-Fi across the UK. Customers will be able to get online using their Skype account at "high street venues and businesses," although no specific stores have been named yet. New customers accessing the hotspots need only sign up with an email address. The service will be provided free to consumers, but businesses will need to pay a small monthly fee to Wicoms as well as a one-time equipment charge in order to provide access.
The new partnership with Wicoms is most likely in response to offerings from other providers such as The Cloud and BT Openzone. Skype has temporarily offered free Wi-Fi hotspot access in the past — during New Year’s Eve in New York City, for example — but this marks the first time that the company has offered free access on a long-term basis in the UK. Skype also has a slight advantage over its rivals: leveraging customers' existing credentials negates the need for many to register their emails yet again in order to gain access to the internet.