Norwegian Start up Opens Skype to all Mobile Users

An invention by a Norwegian start-up company allows consumers to use their everyday mobile phones to make free long distance Skype calls over the Internet, for the price of a local call.

The company, called IPdrum, said on Tuesday its software enables consumers to call their own personal computer (PC) from any standard mobile phone and set up a Skype call over the Internet. Skype calls can also be received on that cellphone.

Skype's free software is used by 42 million individuals and the company is adding 150,000 new customers every day. The three-year-old firm, with offices in London and Luxembourg, said it was not involved in the project.

Skype users usually make phone calls sitting at front of their PC with an attached headset, limiting its usability.

The trick with IPdrum's software is that a second mobile phone is connected to the PC with a small USB cable. IPdrum's software uses that cellphone to set up a connection between the Skype application on the computer and the consumer's cellphone in his or her pocket.

"You still need to pay for the local call between the two cellphones, but most mobile operators offer flat rates for local calls or selected numbers," said IPdrum's boss Kjetil Mathisen.

The product will be available worldwide by mid-August for a price between $60 and $80. The company has a distributor in Europe and is in talks with distributors in Asia and America.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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Lisa Minter
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