Asia Express - East Asian ICT
Data Communications - Tom Online, Skype to Bring VoIP to China
November 17, 2004
Tom Online recently announced that it is partnering with Skype to provide a new service called SkypeOut, which will bring VoIP (Voice-Over-Internet Protocol) technology to customers in China starting sometime in 2005.


The two companies confirmed that they were in the midst of talks with fixed-line and mobile communications players in China about possible opportunities to cooperate on the SkypeOut project. SkypeOut plans to offer international PC-to-telephone calls at very low rates. Call rates will be determined not by the destination of the caller, but rather from the originating destination of the call. For this reason, the service is expected to create waves among conventional telecom operators.


The announcement came at a press conference focusing on the launch of an instant messaging service that offers peer-to-peer text and voice communications. The instant-messaging service is called Tom-Skype. Tom Online indicated that the two companies would focus on building a solid base of subscribers for the Tom-Skype service before moving forward with the introduction of VoIP services. Moreover, the two companies must first receive approval from the Ministry of Information Infrastructure before they can begin to offer VoIP service in China.


Tom Online and Skype will embark on a tour of eight university campuses in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shantou to generate interest in the two new services. They also expressed interest in extending the services to cover Japan, South Korea, and other Asian markets.