Starting Thursday March 25th, Verizon Wireless customers will have access to Skype on their Android and BlackBerry-based smartphones. The partnership was first announced in early February, but the details are finally pouring in. According to Skype’s representative, there will be 9 compatible smartphone devices that can take advantage of the free service. Verizon customers can find the Skype Mobile App in the Android Marketplace or in the BlackBerry Downloads Folder on their respective device. New customers will find the Skype Mobile App pre-installed when they purchase a smartphone.
The partnership is naturally a large move for Skype giving them access to an entirely new market. However, there’s still one major issue: VoIP calling over 3G. When Skype first launched a mobile App for the Apple iPhone, it was news. Unfortunately, due to restrictions with AT&T, VoIP calls were entirely restricted to just Wi-Fi networks. Although AT&T and Apple have now accepted a few VoIP Apps that run over 3G more recently, Skype still can’t. While many may have expected more from a Skype-Verizon deal, it’s almost just as disappointing. While the Skype Mobile App will allow unlimited Skype-to-Skype VoIP calls and instant messages over Verizon’s 3G network without counting against minutes or data, domestic calls simply get routed through your existing cellular calling plan. Skype customers subscribed to the unlimited U.S. and Canada calling plan for $3 a month won’t be able to take advantage of those benefits, but will rather continue to lose minutes when placing domestic calls.
That being said, there’s one major benefit: cheap International Calls. Skype has always been well-respected for affordable overseas calling rates and that’s something Verizon Wireless will allow on their 3G network. The Skype Mobile App will still allow domestic SkypeOut calls when on WiFi networks, which is nonetheless a plus. Also, since both Android and BlackBerry support multitasking unlike the iPhone, Skype Mobile can run in the background to receive calls or messages at anytime. Skatter Tech will be attending the Skype-Verizon Wireless launch event in San Francisco tomorrow, so be sure to check back for a full in-depth review of the service and features.