Unified Communications

04:12 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Verizon Wireless Expanding Skype To Feature Phones

Verizon Wireless says that more handsets, including normal feature phones, will be able to use the Skype application.

Verizon Wireless has indicated that the Skype application will soon be available to "3G multimedia phones" in the near future. This will give the non-smartphone crowd access to the same features and service that are already being enjoyed for free by smartphone users.

Not only will Skype be available on more handsets, but it will also support Korean and simple Chinese (in addition to English and Spanish). Verizon also said that the application will be slightly updated, and will include a better user interface with drop-down menus and flags for international calling.

Verizon Wireless debuted Skype's calling application on about a dozen of its smartphones earlier this year. Unlike the way Skype works on the desktop or other smartphones, Verizon's version of Skype passes calls through its CDMA voice network and not VoIP. This allows Verizon Wireless to provide some sort of guarantee about what sort of service Skype users should be able to expect.

In a prepared statement, Jennifer Byrne, executive director of business development, Verizon Wireless, said, "Skype mobile from Verizon Wireless not only takes advantage of the reliability and breadth of our wireless network, but it’s also proving to be a great option for military families with loved ones stationed overseas, people with relatives in Asia or South America, and businesses with a global presence. And, with the World Cup starting soon, there’s no better way to talk or chat about the action with far-flung fans and family than Skype mobile."

Perhaps. What's interesting is that the Skype application for the iPhone works over Wi-Fi and 3G. Rather than using AT&T's voice network, it uses traditional VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). The Verizon Skype app actually bypasses the Wi-Fi radio of a handset when it is being used. This means even if Verizon's voice network is unavailable, you won't be able to make calls over Wi-Fi (when Wi-Fi is available).

It's an odd differentiator the Verizon version of the application. I understand why Verizon would want to provide the best voice service possible, but to selectively kill standard Skype features is a bit much, as far as I am concerned.

Verizon Wireless didn't say which handsets will be able to use the application, nor exactly when it will become available.

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