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3/24/2010
04:20 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Verizon's Skype App Knee-Capped With No Wi-Fi

Skype Mobile is set to debut for Verizon smartphones starting March 25. In our hands-on tests, it works quite well. I find it deeply troubling, however, that Verizon has killed off the ability to make Skype calls via Wi-Fi. Calls will only be connected through Verizon's 1x voice network.

Skype Mobile is set to debut for Verizon smartphones starting March 25. In our hands-on tests, it works quite well. I find it deeply troubling, however, that Verizon has killed off the ability to make Skype calls via Wi-Fi. Calls will only be connected through Verizon's 1x voice network.I fully understand Verizon Wireless' wish to offer the best voice experience to customers, no matter which voice product they want to use. Verizon's control-freak ways, however, reach too far in its latest strong-arming agreement with Skype.

The Skype Mobile application will only make voice calls through Verizon's voice network. It has no ability to make calls via Wi-Fi, which has always been possible for Skype on other platforms. In fact, this is the opposite situation experienced by Skype users on the iPhone and AT&T. Right now, the Skype app for the iPhone only permits calls to be made via Wi-Fi and not AT&T's 3G network. That is set to change, eventually, at some point, but when isn't exactly clear.

Getting back to Verizon, however, I see this as a sign of over-extending its influence on its business partners -- at the expense of customer choice.

Users should be allowed to choose if they want Skype calls to transit traditional cellular voice or Wi-Fi networks. What are users who live in areas with poor voice coverage to do? If they have no cell signal, they won't be able to make calls at all. If Verizon permitted Wi-Fi-calling at least they'd have an option.

From an enterprise perspective, this should be doubly troubling. It takes away from business' ability to control and manage their employee telephony experience.

Even so, the application works quite well. Here's a video demonstration for your viewing pleasure:

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