Verizon & Skype recently held a press conference in Barcelona, Spain during the Mobile World Congress. So what is bringing the largest U.S. carrier and the popular internet-calling giant together? Voice calls over the internet made on Verizon’s wireless network, of course! In a move that was certainly strategized as a hit to other U.S. carriers (cough, AT&T, cough), Verizon looks like they’ll be further embracing the decline of the landline and putting their bets not only on cellular calls, but data-intensive VoIP calls.
Has the world gone topsy-turvy? Weren’t wireless carriers blocking VoIP apps and services not so long ago? This is a very interesting — and, quite frankly, a forward-thinking – -move by Verizon. Skype use won’t really impact cellular calls (or the revenue from those calls) made over Verizon’s network. But putting Skype on their phones, will certainly be attractive to their customer base. In a job where you’re traveling non-stop and want to be able to make international calls without giving over your first-born? Looks like you’ll be able to use Skype for that right on your Verizon phone. Have friends or family you want to keep in touch with overseas, but don’t want to plug into a computer — or get a special handset that isn’t your cell phone — to do it? Boom! Just use a Verizon wireless phone. Sure, there are VoIP applications like IM+ for Skype and Truphone. Many tech-savvy consumers already use these services. The key here, though, is that Verizon customers wouldn’t have to search or load an app. It’ll be a service on the device itself, all ready to go (and, presumably, pushed out to existing smartphones on Verizon’s network). Many customers don’t fuss with “the extras” — they just want the phone to work. If they see that Skype icon already loaded, they may just test it out and then, without any confusing setup, they’re chatting with their college buddy over in Australia right over the internet. Got a Wi-Fi network at home? Then you should have no problem making Skype VoIP calls over Wi-Fi and not even impacting your data plan. Handy for folks who may not have an “unlimited” plan. All that, and you don’t even have to ask your IT guy (or gal ) how to do it.
Granted, the service will require a data connection so you will need to have a smartphone. According to GigaOM, Verizon’s BlackBerry and Android phones will be seeing the addition of Skype first. Is this a sign of things to come? Will we see AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or other carriers come out with their own partnerships and announcements touting their official embracement of Skype and other VoIP services? While Skype does work over AT&T’s Wi-Fi network, a version running on their 3G network is still in the works.
At the end of the day it’s about revenue. If other carriers see Verizon’s revenue and user base increase, you should count on the other wireless providers following suit — if their networks can handle it ;).