Skype has recently made Skype Access available in its new Skype beta 4.2. With the new beta there are a few bugfixes (apparently), a new call transfer mode (which was apparently in previous versions of Skype but non existent since 4.0), and a new feature called Skype Access.
Skype Access allows anyone with Skype credit to be able to pay for public wi-fi access via Skype. You simply connect to a hotspot that is supported by Skype and then use Skype Access to pay, per minute, for the service. As far as I know, the service currently costs about 15p per minute.
There’s no contract or anything like that, and it is available whenever you need it as long as you are connected to a supported hotspot.
I think this is a really good idea – very handy if you’re in somewhere like an airport and you need to quickly check your email or your Facebook page. I’m guessing people with netbooks are more likely to use the service since netbooks are much easier to carry around.
Skype reports that the service can now be used at over 100,000 wi-fi hotspots (in the UK, I think).
For me I will enjoy it most when it becomes available on devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch – which I’m sure it will do eventually – as that means I will be able to instantly get wi-fi in a number of public places.
Ah well, nice work Skype. This might actually pay off.