Skype, the fastest growing free Voice over IP telephone service provider, is now offering a peer-to-peer (P2P) Internet telephony conference calling feature, allowing up to five different parties to talk with each other simultaneously, regardless of geography.
Skype, the fastest growing free Voice over IP telephone service provider, is now offering the world's first peer-to-peer (P2P) Internet telephony conference calling feature, allowing up to five different parties to talk with each other simultaneously, regardless of geography.
The new feature, bundled with beta version 0.97 of Skype's Windows-based telephone software client, also includes a multiple call hold feature that allows for 16 callers to be simultaneously put on hold by a single user.
Skype, which has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 165 countries since its initial release August of last year, has been praised by many for its clear sound quality, its ease of installation and its ability to work across both static- and dynamic-IP based network configurations.
Skype was the first Voice over IP provider to utilize Global IP Sound's ILBC sound codec, which several manufacturers of IP telephony equipment are now hurriedly trying to integrate into their hardware.
According to Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, who also developed the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing file network, the conference calling feature is an “important step” towards the company's goal of providing a “robust telephone service” capable of competing on even footing with international telephone companies.
Zennstrom says the company is currently working to release Linux- and Macintosh-based versions of the software, and with manufacturers of USB telephone to integrate Skype with their equipment.
Currently, Skype works directly with USB telephones manufactured by UK-based VoIPVoice, but Zennstrom says new equipment will be added to the compatibility list soon.
Like previous versions, Skype's latest offering is free to download and the calls are unmetered and unlimited. Skype Beta 0.97 builds on the already feature-rich product set, including: the user-built global directory; instant messaging; multiple language options; language editor; global hotkeys; call tracking; personal ring tones and call alert options.
“Skype will always provide the free features our users have grown to expect, and we will continue the enhancements in our premium version that will launch later this year,” said Zennstrom.
“The rapid proliferation of broadband is a tremendous opportunity to get everyone to start using Skype,” he said. “Internet telephony is in its infancy and our talented team wants to lead the innovations forward — beyond what we can imagine today.”