Auckland-based wi-fi services outfit Tomizone has struck a deal with Skype that will see many Australasians getting free wireless internet – at least until the end of August.
The partnership will cover 20,000 wi-fi hotspots across Australia and New Zealand that use Tomizone’s software for managing their connections.
Essentially, the deal (which kicks off today) will allow a customer to pay for wireless internet using their Skype account, rather than having to type credit card details on to a Tomizone form.
The deal doesn’t just cover any use of Skype’s own service; any web surfing or email or other general internet use and any attendant data charges will be picked up by Skype.
The best bit: Skype will only debit your Skype account if you make a commercial Skype call (say, from Skype to a regular phone number).
Skype will bear all the costs of general web surfing (for which a cafe or other hotspot might otherwise charge you $4 or whatever; of course, some are already free).
“It means a Tomizone hotspot recognises if someone’s Skype client software is trying to get on the web. We pass the connection through to Skype,” Tomizone chief executive Steve Simms told NBR.
How long will the good times last?
The free wi-fi offer is due to run until the end of August.
Mr Simms said Skype would look at rolling over the free element at that time - or it could decide to start billing for general wi-fi internet access, for example, by the minute.
The deal is modelled on a similar Skype promotion in the UK, which Mr Simms said was wildly popular during the time of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland.
As ash clouds grounded flights, Skype offered stranded passengers free wi-fi through a deal that covered 100,000 hotspots.
Skype got exposure and, presumably, also some revenue as a percentage of people used its commercial calling service.
The volcano eruption hit in May – not uncoincidentally, also the date Mr Simms began negotiating the local deal.
"The integration was very quick, Mr Simms told NBR. "That's why I've always insisted on standards-based systems for wi-fi hotspots, which no one else 'gets'in the industry in New Zealand and Australia."
Tomizone is Australasia’s largest wi-fi operator.
The company has also struck major deals to provide its customer management software to wi-fi network operators in China, India and elsewhere.
Tue, 24 Aug 2010