Skype on Saturday released an upgrade to its iPhone app that allows calls to be made and received under AT&T’s 3G network. The service is free till end of 2010 and thereafter, the company will charge a small monthly fee for the Skype 3G service. Skype-to-Skype calls over WiFi will still remain free.
Till now, only users with jailbreak versions of the iPhone were able to use Skype over 3G networks by applying the VoIPOver3G hack. Skype 2.0 also offers a bunch of other new features including near CD-quality sound for Skype-to-Skype calls, enhanced call quality indicator, quick access to the dial pad from iPhone home screen and faster start-up time.
The Skype app is a blessing in disguise for AT&T customers who often crib about the carrier’s spotty network performance and poor call quality. In February, Skype announced a deal with Verizon to bring its service to numerous Verizon-powered smartphones including the BlackBerry Curve and the BlackBerry Storm. The Skype application works on Verizon’s 3G network and it lets users make Skype-to-Skype calls, discounted international calls and send Instant Messages for free.
In an official Press Release, Russ Shaw General Manager for Mobile, Skype said
“Using Skype on 3G has been the number one request among our iPhone customers. This new version is a great step towards enabling our customers to take and use Skype everywhere they go. Using Skype on iPhone without being restricted to the availability of a WiFi network will open up new ways for Skype customers to stay connected and make free or low-cost calls whenever they want, wherever they are in the world.”
Skype has chalked out an aggressive plan to tie up with multiple carriers all across various continents in order to spread the reach of its service to billions of users all over the world. While this strategy has paid off in United States and some other countries, many other carriers in developing and under-developed countries have expressed their concern over a possible conflict of interest and dipping revenues by letting their customers switch to Skype.
There’s no official word on what the eventual pricing plans might be for this 3G service. The new version is compatible with the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch and iPad. Skype requires iPhone OS version 3.0 and above. The new Skype app is available for download from the App Store.
Have you tried Skype 2.0? If so, I’d love to hear your experience about it. If you’ve not evaluated it, I strongly recommend that you do so – after all it’s free and it works quiet well!