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Skype touts FREE* Wi-Fi across the UK

* If enough small biz cough up a tenner a month

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

For a tenner a month Skype will let a business share its Wi-Fi network with Skype customers, but the biz will get window stickers and porn filtering too, so what's not to love?

Online voice-chat outfit Skype and partner Wicoms will provide a free Wi-Fi access point to plug into a broadband connection, and a website to monitor its usage, along with the aforementioned stickers declaring the premises part of the Skype Wi-Fi network - which is free to use for signed-up punters. The pair will even share the email addresses of those who log on, which is all very magnanimous.

Your business will have to provide the internet connectivity, but traffic will be routed through Skype's web filter to cut out porn and the more obvious phishing sites, and Wicoms will provide a helpline for customers and businesses to ensure things keep running.

The helpline, and big bold website, betray the target demographic for the offering. Big companies are signing big deals with O2 and its ilk to offer free Wi-Fi throughout their chains.

Skype's up-front pricing (complete with discounts - less than £8 a month if one pays annually), and technical simplicity, is designed to appeal to pubs, B&Bs and other small businesses that want a hassle-free way to offer free internet access to punters.

Skype insists on calling the wireless access point a router: technically accurate but also misleading. But businesses get to keep the hardware even if they leave the service, so there's an incentive to try it for a month even if there's no long-term plan. ®

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