Mobile VoIP: Skype App Coming to Verizon Smartphones?
Is there a mobile VoIP deal percolating between Verizon Wireless and Skype? It appears that way, as today the two companies issued a statement to the press saying they will hold a joint news conference Feb. 16 at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Details of the joint-venture haven't been disclosed, but it could be possible that Skype and Verizon are preparing to introduce a Skype client for smartphones running on the nation's largest wireless network. John Stratton, executive vice president and CMO at Verizon, and Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype, will be the speakers at the press conference next Tuesday at MWC, being held in Barcelona, Spain, according to the statement. A partnership between the two firms could thaw chilly relations, as Skype has been a vocal critic of wireless carriers, claiming their closed network business strategy serves their own interests rather than that of consumers. The debate over Net neutrality heated up over the fall of last year, with the FCC drafting guidelines that would prevent carriers from discriminating against content and data transmitted on their wireless networks. Skype openly supported the Feds in statements issued to the press, even as wireless companies continued to protest efforts at regulation.
If Verizon is allowing Skype mobile apps on its handsets, it won't be the lone carrier making nice with the Internet phone pioneer. Skype was also embroiled in controversy over its mobile app for the iPhone. AT&T, the sole carrier for the Apple handset, had long been criticized for not allowing the Skype VoIP app to use its 3G network to place low-cost calls, and initially relegated it for use only on Wi-Fi. However, the carrier relented last year, and now Skype's iPhone app is allowed to run on AT&T's cellular network. Meanwhile, Skype is rolling out new mobile VoIP enterprise offerings to attract more corporate users as part of its long-term strategy to double revenue by 2011. Spokesmen for Verizon and Skype declined to offer any other details on the announcement, other than to say they are both "very excited" about the event slated for Tuesday at MWC.