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Skype signs-up first mobile carrier

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Skype, the Internet telephony software firm, has signed its first agreement with a mobile telecoms operator, taking its low-cost services beyond the desktop and on the road.

Skype will next month deliver flat-rate services to E-Plus, Germany's third largest mobile operator - E-Plus has 9.8 million subscribers. Skype said it is also working with handset manufacturers, including Motorola, to offer its services on devices.

The landmark deal will give E-Plus users access to fixed rate mobile internet access for €39.95 per month and free Skype voice over IP (VoIP) calling.

Skype's chief executive, Niklas Zennstorm, said the deal brings the "value and convenience" of Skype's global internet communications experience to millions of mobile phone subscribers. E-Plus said Skype enables its to deliver the advantages of mobile and stationary internet access.

E-Plus will expand Skype's existing worldwide subscriber base of 52 million, and comes as Microsoft this week took its first steps to rein-in two-year old Skype.

Microsoft bought privately held Teleo, with plans to integrate Teleo's service into Outlook and Internet Explorer for "click-to-call dialing" and to supplement VoIP in MSN Messenger. Teleo's eponymous service is currently in beta.

And last week, Google signalled its intention to become an internet phone-call player, with the beta release of GoogleTalk, a VoIP /instant messenger client. ®

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