Verizon Announces Game-Changing Skype Deal

Verizon Wireless USED to be one of the most closed, protective carriers on the planet, suffocating features so their users would have to pay extra for them. With the introduction of the Motorola Droid, that paradigm seemed to shift in a HUGE way. People were fearful they would limit Android – but they didn’t. Now, instead of simply allowing/inviting something that’s open, Verizon Wireless is going on the offensive like never before.

Starting next month, Verizon Smartphone users with data plans will enjoy free and unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls to anyone on the planet. And you’ll enjoy amazingly cheap Skype International calls as well. All this from Verizon Wireless’ 3G network.

skype-logo verizon-logo

Holy smokes – THIS is a huge move. It will be interesting to see how the company deals with potential “caps” on what they call “unlimited data” plans. I really have no idea where this will take us… but I bet you it will take other carriers like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile into a decision making room where they decide they have to do the same. But will their networks buckle under the data pressure?

Skype Mobile will be offered on all 3 Verizon Android Phones – the Motorola Droid, Motorola Devour and HTC Droid Eris – as well as several other smartphones. At least for starters.

Here is the full press release:

BARCELONA, SPAIN; BASKING RIDGE, NJ, UNITED STATES; AND LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG — At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon Wireless and Skype today announced a strategic relationship that will bring Skype to Verizon Wireless smartphones in March. The new Skype mobile™ product enhances Verizon Wireless’ smartphones for users who have data plans by offering a new way to call around the globe, while also giving hundreds of millions of Skype users around the world the opportunity to communicate with friends, family and business colleagues in the United States using Verizon Wireless.

The two companies have created an exclusive, easy-to-use Skype mobile offering for 3G smartphones. Verizon Wireless 3G smartphone users with data plans can use Skype mobile to:

* make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype user around the globe on America’s most reliable wireless network;
* call international phone numbers at competitive Skype Out calling rates;
* send and receive instant messages to other Skype users; and
* remain always connected with the ability to see friends’ online presence.

Initially, Skype mobile will be available on millions of best-selling Verizon Wireless 3G smartphones with data plans, including the BlackBerry® Storm™ 9530, Storm2™ 9550, Curve™ 8330, Curve™ 8530, 8830 World Edition and Tour™ 9630 smartphones, as well as DROID by Motorola, DROID ERIS™ by HTC and Motorola DEVOUR™.

John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said, “Skype mobile on Verizon Wireless changes the game. For Verizon Wireless’ more than 90 million customers, Skype mobile adds great value because we’re effectively giving customers with smartphones and data plans the option to extend their unlimited calling community to hundreds of millions of Skype users around the globe. And you’re not limited to using a single type of phone; we’ll have nine smartphones ready right at launch in March.”

Josh Silverman, chief executive officer of Skype, noted, “People want to take their Skype conversations with them wherever they go, whether it’s on a PC, TV or increasingly mobile phones. Verizon Wireless will give U.S. consumers the best Skype experience on mobile phones and will truly change the way people call their friends and family internationally.”

Customers interested in learning more about Skype mobile for Verizon Wireless smartphones can visit www.verizonwireless.com/skypemobile. Additional information about the service will be available next month.

Visit www.verizonwireless.com for more information about Verizon Wireless or follow the company at http://twitter.com/verizonwireless. Learn more and download Skype at www.skype.com or follow the company at http://twitter.com/skypemobile.

[Verizon Wireless via Engadget via AndroidForums, Thanks CRPercodani]

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  • Shinzakura

    Bravo. That’s all I need to say.

  • swehes

    I hope they will allow for other SIP traffic going through as well. Then I may just go to Verizon and do Data only. And use my GV+Gizmo setup. :) Things would be glorious!

  • LincKraker

    wow this is great. how is this great? there is an android app that does this already.. iskoot. the only real announcement i got was that vzw is the only carrier to get the official android skype app. how is that great?

  • greatcasa

    This is nothing new. It may be new in the fact that Verizon is the first carrier to say “yes please use it” but it’s been available and being used for awhile now on the iPhone. And it’s not some special deal as well where “Verizon is getting more free calls and better international rates” then other users. That’s simply how Skype is set up. Free calls to other Skypers and cheap international rates.

  • greatcasa
  • greatcasa

    I’m sorry I was missing the whole 3G part. Apple/ATT opened up this feature a few weeks ago, but a software update is still being waited on to take advantage. So it looks like Skype is saying they’re giving the new software to Verizon first. Pretty cool new feature.

  • Fred

    I have yet to try a good skype app for android. What you nay sayers are over looking is the fact that 9 phones will have sype and only 3 of those are android. How many other blackberry phones have skype?

  • swehes

    @LincKraker
    The great thing is that Verizon is opening up. If Skype can be run on the phone, then other SIP VoIP products should be able to run on Verizon without problems or hindrance by Verizon. This would make me almost want to go over to Verizon, especially as they are going to LTE at a later stage.

  • Marvin

    greatcasa. that’s a bit misleading because you can’t make calls on skype through the iphone through 3G without jailbreaking your phone. if this partnership between skype and verizon pans out, then it will open up this service to a vast majority who do not hack their phones.

  • covert

    a networks support of a software that uses it’s network for free services is always a good thing, it means that they arn’t trying desperatley to try and charge you for the things you already pay for, again. (ie data) no hidden fee’s and all that crap, sure it may just be marketing cause you can alrady do it, but they are supporting it… that is the biggy here

  • michaelk

    actually according to other websites it is HUGELY different than anyone else. pcmag article is here:
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2359683,00.asp

    the calls will travel on verizon’s VOICE network to the tower and then become voip. That supposedly ensures quality of the call better than any data only offering on a phone at the moment.

    accoding to pcmag:
    “This isn’t true voice-over-IP the way most people understand it. The Skype app will connect to Skype’s server using a standard Verizon Wireless voice call, and head from there via VOIP to the international or PC phone on the other end. This ensures call quality, Stratton said.”

    downside is doesn’t sound like you can talk and IM at the same time since verizon’s network doesn’t allow voice and data traffic at the same time and the call will be going over the voice network…

  • michaelk

    “These [calls] are right on our primary voice network. The call quality is terrific,” Stratton said.

  • Tom Robson

    This isn’t very exciting really.

    The fact the official Skype Android app is being limited to one network (in the US) is hardly cause for celebration.

    Especially since Fring, etc have enabled Skype on Android for the last 6 months.

  • Nathan H.

    I understand this sounds big because a carrier officially supports VoIP, however, it was already the case. I don’t think this is big at all. Just a marketing push. I’ve been making skype calls on my Droid for a while now using Fring. AT&T also allows VoIP using 3G. Not a big deal at all IMO.

  • DJ

    Interesting…I use Google Voice which pretty much does the same thing and I love it. What I am more interested in is the Droid Eris 2.1 update. Can we get a date range please??

  • Pieter

    @tom
    it’s just a marketing strategy. it will open on the rest of the carriers in due time. ive tried fring, and it works well…but it’s messy. a fully functioning skype app (unlike those described by greatcasa) is great news

  • me

    this is great news for customers that have wifi enabled devices that travel globally.. no more global plan needed as long you have wifi now

  • G

    Maby this will prompt Skype to get there Canadan service running again, I would love to call landlines though my active Skype account.

  • Vlad

    This is great new for you Americans! I wish our canadian providers were that competitive. Instead, they get together, fix prices, committing what’s otherwise could be called a crime.

  • crunchbot

    VOIP would be great if people used their phones to talk. I’ve yet to use all the minutes I pay for, which is the minimum verizon offers. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. I suppose I could save on text messages now, but google talk helped with that already.

  • Jason G.

    Wondering exactly what people use this for as far as a “here in the states” usage?

    Like I use Skype on my desktop as an IM app mostly, and do some video conferences, but not a whole lot of talking. So I guess this isn’t as “big” for me correct?

    I mean most of the people I talk to on skype have verizon anyways, so it’s not a big “gainer” for me, but I guess still cool non the less

  • Paul Shirley

    Its a cunning move, using the voice channel hands control to the carrier and stops users hiking the bandwidth up – or using video. With the flaky latencies and general performance of 3G the quality argument is compelling for users.

    More important: Skype has possibly the worst tariff of all VOIP providers, particularly for calling mobiles. Tariffs so high it might discourage casual SkypeOut use leaving the local voice business largely intact. Where it does make sense to SkypeOut it wouldn’t take much kickback to cover the origination costs, backhaul and termination aren’t the carriers problem.

    I’ll be sticking with real VOIP and a SIP provider 4 to 10x cheaper than Skype for now, despite having free Skype for the last 4 months!

  • KID_CHAINSAW

    Someone explain this to me in layman’s terms.

  • buckwheat2k10

    I can’t wait till a carrier can handle this..
    http://www.google.com/chat/video

  • Kelex

    @greatcasa

    Do your research before you go posting useless iLoveSteveJobs garbage.

    Case and point on why VZW Droid > AT&T iPhone

    https://support.skype.com/faq/FA10062/Can-I-use-Skype-over-3G

  • INsano

    Yeah…this is a game changer…unless you’re on Sprint and already have their Any Mobile, Any Time…and can call anyone with unlimited minutes…whether they have some 3rd party application like Skype or not. Overblown press release.

  • ceppm

    This has been available in the UK for more than a year now from 3 Mobile. Some time ago they said: you want to call through Skype? Great, go do it! They even offer PAYG phones with Skype and allow you to make Skype-to-Skype calls even when you don’t have a penny on your account. Lately they got a step further and now allow you to use MSN, for free on your mobile.

    As has been said, they are not really VOIP calls, Skype dials a number that 3 recognises and therefore it doesn’t charge you for that.

    The Skype and iSkoot Android apps work in the same way. I use Skype on my Hero and because I have more than enough minutes, I don’t care about dialling a local number to call my Skype contacts.

  • Katzumi

    Can we get this on T-Mobile USA???? I use Skype for international calls WAY more than Google voice.

  • Jason

    Does anyone else think Verizon is transitioning into the “dumb pipeline” business model? I think they are the only US company with the size to pull off bandwidth-only services, and their business model seems to have turned a 180 with the launch of the DROIDs. Alternately, maybe they’re prepping to finally offer data plans without voice.

  • MrXtc

    What is the difference between this and the Skype Lite App that I have for G1-Phone? Will you still be charged “minutes”?

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