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Skype announced a new partner program for its Wi-Fi hotspots service, Skype Access, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday.

Using Skype Access, Skype users can pay for Wi-Fi hotspot access using Skype Credit on a pay-as-you-go (per minute) basis, rather than having to pay by day or by hour. Skype introduced this program in January 2009 and has slowly expanded the network over time…

At Mobile World Congress, the company announced that it has expanded its partnerships to include more than 500,000 hotspots around the world. This includes 500 airports, 30,000 hotels and many other locations. Furthermore, Skype is offering free Skype Access across Spain through February 18.

Skype’s list of Skype Access partners include:

  • BT Openzone – The largest Wi-Fi hotspot provider in the UK.
  • Fon – This is billed as the “world’s largest Wi-Fi network.”
  • M3 Connect – Major German Wi-Fi provider.
  • Row 44 – An in-flight broadband platform that serves many international flights.
  • Skyrove – A hotspot provider in South Africa.
  • Spectrum Interactive – A Wi-Fi provider in the UK with a focus on the travel and media sector.
  • Tomizone – A Wi-Fi provider in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
  • Vex – A South African Wi-Fi provider.

To use Skype Access, users need to to use the latest version of Skype for Mac or Windows.

Mobile Partner Programs

In addition to expanding its Skype Access program, Skype has also announced its new Mobile Partner Program. This program is aimed at mobile operators in areas with low 3G broadband penetration. It is designed to allow mobile operators to provide customers with additional benefits and services.

The program follows the past partnerships that Skype has forged with Verizon, KDDI and Hutchinson 3, but it is designed in a way that allows smaller operators to roll out their own version.

The program works by using a client/server solution developed for mobile operators. This solution allows the operators to distribute Skype to a broader range of handsets — including featurephones and smartphones.