Skype aims to bolster its user base in the business sector this month, with the announcement of the new beta version of Skype For SIP.

This latest version of the popular VoIP service tailored for business users is polled as "a major milestone in Skype's progress in providing value for enterprise users.

"SIP is an open standard and the leading voice over Internet protocol used in businesses telephony networks at millions of locations globally," Skype's UK PR company informs us.

"Skype For SIP allows SIP PBX owners 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."

Free calls for everybody

SIP should enable millions more employees worldwide to be able to make domestic and international calls via their telephones on their desk, instead of having to mess around plugging an unseemly headset into their PC (which, in TechRadar's own experience, always tends to cause adverse comment and hilarity amongst bored colleagues!).

The service means that 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 introduction of Skype for SIP is a significant move for Skype and for any communication intensive business around the world," said Stefan Oberg, VP and General Manager of Skype for Business.

"It effectively combines the obvious cost savings and reach of Skype with its large user base, with the call handling functionality, statistics and integration capabilities of traditional office PBX systems, providing great economical savings and increased productivity for the modern business."

"Businesses have been waiting for Skype to make a concerted push into the business space for a while," said Rebecca Swensen, IDC's Research Analyst, Enterprise Mobility and IP Communications Services.

"Connecting to existing standards-based SIP PBXes is a good way for Skype to start doing so. It will be interesting to see how large companies change their thinking about the deployment of Skype within the network."

Skype will charge around 2.1 cents per minute for calls to cellphones and fixed lines, with incoming calls from computers to phone systems using Skype SIP set to be free.