3 Mobile have just announced that they’ll be allowing totally free Skype to Skype calls on their network from the 1st May. Currently, even on the 3 Skypephone, you’re required to top up once every 90 days to take advantage of free Skype calls or Skype chat but that’ll all change. So long as you have a 3 SIM card and a 3 mobile handset (or one unlocked to the 3 network) Skype will be free to use.
Most modern handsets can run Skype – any with Window Mobile can simply download Skype, there’s Skype Lite for a wide selection of compatible handsets and of course over 2 million users have already downloaded the Skype app for the iPhone.
It’s not all plain sailing for would be mobile Skype users, other mobile operators vary in their attitude to Skype as it makes use of their data networks. Users aren’t paying by the minute, they’re paying for data usage which is often bundled with the tariff or is a monthly add on. Skype quickly became the number one download from the iPhone App Store in Germany despite Deutsche Telekom’s decision to block VoIP (Voice over IP, the technology that Skype runs on) both on it’s mobile network and on WiFi connections. Other operators such as O2 in the UK allow Skype on the iPhone but only on WiFi connections, not roaming on the mobile network.
The EU are considering legislation to force mobile operators to open up their networks to make new technology such as Skype available to customers. The EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding stated that action should be taken against carriers that use their market power to block “innovative services”.
3 are and have always been at the cutting edge of mobile services, cheap mobile broadband and cheap (soon to be free) VoIP with Skype. 3 are also the first to offer free Skype without charging for a data allowance so free really is free.
I’m constantly impressed with 3, even though my main phone is still on contract with another provider. If you’ve not got a 3 SIM card for your mobile they’ll be available for just £1.99 in the near future and that, along with a compatible unlocked handset, will be all you need to have Skype in your pocket at all times.