Skype Goes SIP Tapping PBX Functionality to Bridge Old School and New School

Skype today announced the beta version of Skype For SIP for Business users. SIP, short for Session Initiation Protocol, is an open standard and the leading voice over Internet protocol used in businesses telephony networks at millions of locations globally.

This is an interesting announcement in the heated and competitive Unified Communications area. Over the year many have debated the role of the PBX. Many experts have been saying that it’s not about the PBX per se, but instead the applications that PBXs provide. The question that I am asking myself is “Is this a Unified Communications game changer?”.

Many people underestimate the Skype potential. As Skype becomes more independent under Ebay (and possibly spun out), you should see more aggressive moves by Skype. Here is a slideshare presentation on the story of Skype that Sten Tamkivi, Skype’s Chief Evangelist, gave at Stanford on March 9, 2009.

Here are some details from the Skype announcement today.

Skype For SIP allows SIP PBX owners to benefit from Skype’s low cost calls to fixed phones and mobiles around the world, and to receive calls from Skype users directly into their PBX system.

Businesses can now be reached by the community of over 405 million Skype registered users through click-to-call from their business Web sites. The calls will be received through their existing office system at no cost to the customer. At the same time, businesses can benefit from Skype’s low-cost global calling rates when placing calls to landlines and mobiles worldwide from devices connected to their PBX systems. In addition, they can choose to purchase online Skype numbers available in over 20 countries to receive calls from business contacts and customers who are using traditional fixed lines or mobile phones.

Key Features
The beta version of Skype For SIP will enable business users to:

* Receive and manage inbound calls from Skype users worldwide on SIP-enabled PBX systems; connecting the company Web site to the PBX system via click-to-call
* Place calls with Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide from any connected SIP-enabled PBX; reducing costs with Skype’s low-cost global rates
* Purchase Skype’s online numbers, to receive calls to the corporate PBX from landlines or mobile phones
* Manage Skype calls using their existing hardware and system applications such as call routing, conferencing, phone menus and voicemail; no additional downloads or training are required

How to participate
The Skype For SIP beta program for business users opens today. SIP users, phone system administrators, developers and service partners are invited to apply at www.skypeforsip.com. Applicants will need to be businesses, have an installed SIP based IP-PBX system, as well as a level of technical competency to configure their own SIP-enabled PBX. The initial beta is available to a limited number of participants.

During the beta period all calls will be charged at standard Skype rates. Further pricing details will be announced when the product is fully launched later this year.

About John Furrier

Founder and CEO of SiliconAngle.com.