This article is sponsored by WINplc: a leading enabler of mobile centric information, entertainment and interaction services.
It seems to be Bizarro world over at Verizon headquarters. As the leading VoIP service in the world, Skype has been getting operators backs up all over the world. The voice service has had to fight its way onto most platforms – and has often only been allowed in on the understanding that it can only work over Wi-Fi networks. So the question is why has Verizon gone in completely the opposite direction, allowing 3G calls but banning Wi-Fi?
What’s the story?
Verizon and Skype have finally finished off a much-anticipated deal. Tomorrow, Skype will be available to download for nine different Verizon phones through app stores, SMS or over the net. Verizon is allowing limitless Skype-to-Skype calls and IMs globally, along with the choice to use Skype for international calling at lower Skype rates.
So it’s all good?
Mostly, yes. But the 3G thing is still pretty interesting. Here’s how it breaks down: let’s say you’re using Skype on an iPhone. You’re only allowed to connect through Wi-Fi. AT&T refuses to carry any VoIP calls made through Skype. So you can only use the service if you’re in a hotspot – but once you are, it’s completely free. What Verizon has done is completely open the service up. You can make Skype calls from wherever you get a signal now, which massively boosts the usefulness of the service. If you happen to be calling a Skype user, it’s free. But for any other call, Verizon will still be getting their data money.
That’s not a lot, is it?
Not really, but I don’t think that’s the point. What this means is that in order to use your Verizon Skype, you have to have a Verizon data plan. You have to pay your monthly fee anyway to use the service. And even with Wi-Fi banned, it’s still a hell of a lot better than it is on AT&T.
And as operators trend towards all-in IP services, all billing will become like this. You pay your monthly fee, and you get access to your voice, data and messaging services all through LTE. This could almost be seen as Verizon getting VoIP users ready for the way things will be.
At least, I hope they’re that farsighted. Otherwise this is just kind of a weird decision for the operator to make.