3 UK brings VoIP to cheapskates
Skype handset to launch Monday
3 UK has admitted that it's working on a Skype phone to bring VoIP connectivity to more of its mobile customers.
3 UK's Skype phone - allegedly.
While the mobile operator would confirm the phone's existence, exact details are scarce, though industry rumours suggest the handset will be launched Monday and available in-store by Thursday.
The phone will be available on a £12 a month contract as well as pay as you go, and will feature a 2MB camera and MP3 player as well as video playback.
3 has been offering Skype for a while, on its X-Series range, but rather cleverly the connection isn't really end-to-end VoIP. The connection from the phone handset to 3 is over normal cellular lines; circuit-switched with guaranteed quality, it then switches to VoIP for the rest of the connection. This doesn't guarantee the quality of a Skype call, but it goes a long way to mitigating the problems of being mobile.
This also means the handset doesn't have to do all the complicated VoIP stuff - and this (we understand) is what 3 is planning to launch next week.
Sources close to the firms say calls to other Skype users will be free, though it's unlikely 3 will allow SkypeOut minutes to be used.
The full details are to be announced Monday, and today neither 3 nor Skype would confirm the finer points of the package. ®