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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Skype over 3G

Interesting to note that while the mobile world is focusing on dual-mode WiFi/cellular devices, some of the pioneers of VoIP are already moving onto VoIPo3G.

Last week's announcement of the Hutchison / Skype tie-up was the most obvious manifestation, along with Skype's earlier (laptop-centric) deal with E-Plus in Germany. But it was Skype's other press release which contained an interesting line

"Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 works .... with an internal Wi-Fi or 3G (EDGE, EV-DO or UMTS) radio. "

I'd heard at a conference last November that Skype was working on an EDGE variant, so it's interesting to see it launched so soon. A Symbian client is also nearing release by the looks of things .

All well and good... but these are (for the most part) relatively niche devices. It will be interesting to see if Skype tries to exploit a variant of handset-specific J2ME Java that'll be appearing on mid-tier phones later this year. (it's called JSR-180 for those who care....) This gives access from the Java environment to a SIP stack on the phone, if it's present.

There's an awful lot of Java/EDGE phones around... although whether they'll have the necessary horsepower to run the Skype client is another matter. (as is the per-MB data rates that operators charge)

1 comment:

Digital Evangelist said...


I think the isue for Skype and the user will be the poor quality of the data network. You just have to look at the performance of GPRS the reason that you are told that the connect is always on is so that when the service is slow the MNO can say that they are still connected. Even with the recent improvements to networks caused by the Blackberry effect leaves much to be be desired. Thus you will be lucky to complete a call without dropping the connection. Given this poor quality service I cannot see many users happy to have skype as their primary handset.

Recent research said that most 3G owners don't use 3G services, they stick to voice and text. Thus I think this is another example of Skype's well polished PR machine rather than meeting a real need.