Skype and Wicoms have announced the roll-out of a new free public WiFi network in the UK and Ireland.
Free Skype WiFi will allow Skype account holders wireless network access in high-street cafes, hotels and retailers via an app.
Non-Skype account holders will be able to access the network by providing an email address.
Shadi Mahassel, program manager for Skype Access, said: “We believe that internet access should be available to everyone in a simple and affordable way.”
Microsoft-owned Skype currently charges its 254 million global subscribers for their WiFi use but this announcement is an extension to rather than a replacement of the paid-for service.
Hotspots are hosted by the participating businesses, which are required to purchase a prepaid service package from Wicom’s online store.
The companies have not revealed the number of businesses that have signed up but said they would be making an announcement soon.
A Wicoms representative said they were targeting retailers “with 10 to 12 locations right down to the independent coffee shop”.
The service will help businesses to engage directly with their customers, and provide special deals and product information that will drive sales conversion, he added.