Skype Comes to the Office SIP PBX

Skype has announced Skype for SIP - a beta program for a limited number of users that will bring the low costs and benefits of the popular VOIP service to the office PBX. As many PBX systems reach retirement age, Skype is positioned to enable enterprises to make better use of existing SIP PBXes and to shake up enterprise thinking toward Skype.

Skype is rolling out a beta version of Skype for SIP, which will enable Skype's propriety VOIP system to work with some enterprise phone systems.

Here come the acronyms: Skype for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) will bring Skype's low VOIP (voice-over IP) rates to enterprise PBX (private branch exchange) phone systems.

As businesses update their old PBXes, many have turned to ones that support SIP, and IDC reports that 438,000 IP PBXes were shipped worldwide in 2008.

However, data from In-Stat also shows that companies with SIP PBXes aren't always using their full capabilities.

Skype's more than 405 million users will be able to use a click-to-call feature on a business's Website, and the calls will be routed through the existing office system at no cost to the customer. From the inside out, businesses can place calls to mobile and landline numbers, enjoying Skype's low calling rates.

For example, Skype's global rate, which extends to 30 countries, is just over 2 cents per minute-$0.021, or $0.024 including taxes.

"Businesses have been waiting for Skype to make a concerted push into the business space for a while. Connecting to existing standards-based SIP PBXes is a good way for Skype to start doing so," Rebecca Swensen, an IDC analyst, wrote in a statement.

"It will be interesting to see how large companies change their thinking about the deployment of Skype within the network," added Swensen.

Skype has early worked with specific PBX systems. For example, Digium and Skype announced Skype for Asterisk, granting Asterisk PBX users the ability to leverage Skype for outbound and inbound calling, according to a Sept. 26, 2008, eWEEK article.

With Skype for SIP, business users will be able to:

??Ç Receive and mange inbound calls from Skype users;

??Ç Place calls with Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide;

??Ç Purchase online numbers from Skype to receive calls to the corporate PBX from landlines or mobile phones; and

??Ç Manage Skype calls-including conferencing, call routing, phone menus and voice mail-with their existing hardware.

Skype says the beta version of Skype for SIP is available to only a limited number of applicants, which can apply at Qualified applicants will have a business, an SIP-based IP-PBX and the technical competency to configure the latter.