Skype signs deal with fixed-line telco in Hong Kong

Skype Technologies has signed an agreement with Hong Kong's Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) to offer a co-branded VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service in Hong Kong, Skype said in a statement released Sunday.

The agreement marks Skype's first deal with a fixed-line telecommunications operator, the company said.

Skype is a peer-to-peer VoIP application that lets users to make voice calls to other Internet users for free or, through the SkypeOut service, to fixed-line and mobile phones in countries around the world at a fraction of the cost of international phone calls. The application is available in versions for Windows, Pocket PC, Linux and Mac OS.

The growing popularity of Skype has led some observers to point to the application and VoIP technology in general as a growing threat to traditional fixed-line telecommunications service.

Skype and HGC will introduce a co-branded HGC-Skype portal (http://skype.hgcbroadband.com) for Hong Kong in March 2005. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The co-branding deal with HGC is the third such deal that Skype has signed in the Greater China region over the last year and follows similar agreements with Tom Online in China and PCHome Online in Taiwan -- two subsidiaries of Tom Group.

Both Tom Group and HGC are largely controlled by Hong Kong billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing.

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