Oct. 11, 2005--Internet phone service provider Skype announced Thursday it had joined forces with a U.S.-based company to package its consumer-oriented calling product with a data service that would make it a viable player in the business-to-business market for voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services.

London-based Skype provides widely popular software for making free telephone calls from one computer linked to another by a high-speed Internet connection. The company has almost 4 million U.S. users, according to the Yankee Group. Skype was recently purchased by eBay for $2.6 billion.

Skype’s partner, GoRemote of California, operates a network that connects mobile workers to corporate networks over a secure, high-speed connection while they are working offsite. The alliance will bundle Skype’s consumer communications tool with GoRemote’s Mobile Office Solution so users will have the option to make phone calls over the same connection they use to access corporate networks.

GoRemote’s chief executive, Tom Thimot, said the new service allows mobile workers to exchange data and communicate with their corporate office through a single laptop.

Thimot also said GoRemote’s network connects to 31,700 corporate offices and home offices worldwide. The company has also set up 30,000 “hotspots at coffee shops, hotels and airports where traveling workers can connect to the GoRemote network and tap into their company’s computer system.

VoIP, already popular among consumers, is drawing attention from small and medium sized businesses. A recent survey from Harris Interactive and Hewlett Packard found that most small and medium sized business managers are interested in using VoIP to reduce costs and add new features like e-mail with voice message attachments.