HGC is the first Fixed Telecommunications Network Services (FTNS — a provider of fixed line services which include telephony) operator in the world to have reached a co-branding agreement withSkype Technologies S.A, Skype says in a press release issued today (not yet available on their website but I’m guessing it’ll be here when it is).
Under the agreement, the two partners will bring Skype to Hong Kong through a co-branded “HGC-Skype” portal, which is scheduled to be in service in March 2005.
In short, this means that HGC Broadband users — both wired and wireless — will be able to use Skype. Of course, they could anyway, but (I’m guessing here) this is an opportunity for Skype to pitch itself to a Chinese audience, and a chance for Hutchison to offer an extra lure to customers in an already crowded marketplace. As Peter Wong, Chief Executive Officer of HGC, puts it in the press release, “Being a full fledged telecommunications service provider, we launch ‘HGC-Skype’ to cater for the communications needs of tech-savvy users. We always partner with leading service providers, and Skype is no exception. Our cooperation will bring ‘Skype mania’ to Hong Kong.”
What’s interesting here is that Skype is dealing for the first time with an infrastructure provider, and one that offers ordinary telephone services as well as broadband. While Hutchison sounds as if it is calculating that only the tech-savvy are going to be using Skype, it must also be recognising that the days of expensive international phone calls are over. (Local phone calls in Hong Kong are free.)