Chinese mobile firm allies with Skype

Skype is trying to expand its share of the burgeoning Chinese market with the launch of a new joint venture

Skype has signed a deal with Chinese wireless operator TOM Online to create a joint Internet telephony venture.

The venture will be jointly held by the pair, with ownership split 51 percent to 49 percent in the Chinese company's favour.

It will work to develop, create and distribute a Chinese-language version of Skype's VoIP software.

TOM Online has already been offering a simplified version of Skype software since late last year, which is now used by 3.4 million of the wireless provider's 70 million customers.

China will be top priority for Skype due to its booming use of broadband — despite low penetration rates, China's massive population means it is set to overtake the US for broadband users by 2008, according to analysts.

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