Skype extends coverage of Manager administration tool

The Web-based management tool for businesses allows companies to centrally control their employees' usage of the service

Skype's Web-based management tool Manager for businesses is now available in over 170 countries and for all subscriptions, allowing companies to centrally control their usage of the service.

Using Skype Manager, administrators can create accounts for employees, control their access to features, allocate Skype Credit, Skype Premium and other features, while keeping track of what everyone is spending. Also, if an employee leaves, the company retains control of the account.

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Skype has increased its country coverage by allowing administrators to allocate Skype subscriptions from over 170 countries, including recent additions like Brazil, Russia and Mexico, the company said in a blog post. In addition to the geographical expansion, Skype has also made all subscriptions available with the management tool, it said.

Skype subscriptions allow users to make calls to fixed lines and mobile phones for a fixed monthly cost. For example, unlimited calls from the U.K. to the U.S. cost £4.59 ($7.14) including taxes per month. Using Manager, companies can configure Skype to allow some employees to call the U.S. as much as they like, while others who need to contact clients in Japan can get a subscription for that country.

The Microsoft unit has a fair usage policy that prohibits "using subscriptions for telemarketing or call centre operations" and "regular calls of short duration or calls to multiple numbers in a short period of time."

Skype Manager is a good tool that companies should use, according to Steve Blood, research vice president at Gartner.

"Companies should have a proper support plan in place for Skype, but not many companies do ... You don't really want sales people using their own Skype handle. You want to give them a Skype handle for business, so that when they leave the company it can be retained and passed on to someone else rather than business disappearing to a competitor," Blood said.

Skype has improved the tool, but it hasn't been very well publicized, which in part explains the low usage, according to Blood.

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