Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what? (updated)

Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what? (updated)

Summary: The good news: Skype 2 for iPhone finally works over 3G. The bad news: it plans to charge for it -- and it doesn't include push notifications.

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Skype at long last released an updated version of its iPhone app that is able to make calls over 3G -- but its days as a free service are numbered.

Skype 2.0 for iPhone (iTunes, free) is able to make Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G "for free until the end of 2010, after which there will be a small monthly fee."

That last bit is a total shock to fans of the VOIP service that were anxiously waiting for the iPhone app to work over 3G.

The switchover date to paid 3G access was originally slated to be September 1, 2010 but an influx of irate reviews forced the company to extend the deadline to sometime after January 1, 2011.

To make matters worse Skype 2 for iPhone doesn't include push notifications, a long-requested feature that is practically essential on the iPhone. Its (current) lack of multitasking means you need to keep the app running to receive a call.

If it's any consolation, Skype for Android is even goofier. It only works on 3G (seriously, it won't launch on Wi-Fi) and only works on Verizon devices. To make matters worse domestic Skype calls are carried over the Verizon network and are billed like a normal mobile phone call.

My theory: Skype could only do something this stupid because it's planning to launch video calls on the next-gen iPhone 4G/HD/whatever. No established software company is insane enough to publicly commit suicide like this, without some serious positive news -- say next week. Are they?

P.S. Would it have killed them to make Skype 2 a universal app so that it runs in native resolution on the iPad? Geez.

Update: Terry from Demco, developer of Incoming for Skype, writes about a potential way around the Skype subscription fee:

There is another way to get Skype working over 3G without using the official app using an app called Incoming for Skype. You still need to use your skype-out account, but you'll never need to pay for any subscription service that Skype wants to implement for calling over 3G. Incoming for Skype will convert your outgoing calls to local incoming calls. If you have a cell phone plan with unlimited incoming calls, you can call anywhere in the world for free and you don't even have to worry about paying daytime minutes.

Topics: Hardware, Collaboration, Mobility, Wi-Fi, Social Enterprise

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13 comments
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  • Welcome to iPhone OS fragmentation!!!

    [i]Would it have killed them to make Skype 2 a universal app so that it runs in native resolution on the iPad? Geez.[/i]

    Huh, and here we were always told that fragmentation only existed on Android devices. Huh, guess you Apple zealots were lying to us!

    And it is only going to get worse if Apple actually decides to come out with a year 2000 era resolution for its "flagship" smartphone. I feel sorry for people who think that 480*320 is acceptable. Set your computer graphics card to 480*320 and tell me how acceptable it is.
    NonZealot
  • Could you tell what is the point?

    If you are using 3G, then you are using minutes from your cell plan. So why not just use your minutes for talking? Unlimited data plans usually come with unlimited talk also. I don't see the need for Skype.

    Now using an iTouch with WiFi to make Skype calls makes a lot of sense. I just don't understand using a cell phone to run an app that turns voice into IP that connects to another app though VOIP on another cell phone - so you can have a simple conversation. Rube Goldberg anyone?
    Roger Ramjet
    • Hello Sir

      Hello Mr.Roger,
      You are absolutely correct but there is one more important point that is using Skype, you can talk to an another person or a group of people without spending any money. Only 3G connection is required. When an individual is making a call, he/she is actually paying some money to the service provider. Here in case of WiFi, you are using the connectivity and making calls over Skype.
      shekharghosh7
    • RE: Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what?

      @Roger Ramjet

      The iPhone 3G data plan (at least on AT&T in the US) is an "unlimited" plan for $30/month. You pay $30 whether you use none of it, or whether you use 5GB.

      In this case, it would make sense to call a friend that for example, isn't on AT&T and wouldn't be using the "mobile to mobile" unlimited minutes. You would be able to bypass the out-of-network prime time minute usage by using Skype over 3G. Not to mention also being able to call others also using Skype.

      Of course, depending on individual usage habits the roll-over minutes AT&T has might make this a non-issue. I have like 4000 roll over minutes saved up in addition to the 5000 "night and weekend" minutes. But I don't use the phone that much, I know for many others this might not be the case.
      tk_77
      • Unlimited?

        Shouldn't "unlimited" plans be...well, unlimited? If I'm paying for an "unlimited" plan, I shouldn't be restricted (otherwise known as "limited") to 5GB.
        fromthehip
  • This is not difficult to understand

    Skype had to work a deal with the carriers, and the behavior you see in Skype is a result of that deal.
    frgough
  • Forget Skype !!!

    If you really want calls and video calls over wi-fi and 3G just install Fring on I-Phone , android or Symbian based phones and you could call, video-call and chat with your Fring mates or with Skype mates , Yahoo!Messenger mates and MSN-Live Messenger friends. Remember: you can video-call even friends that use their computers with any of this messengers or Skype. Good luck !
    bennystan@...
  • RE: Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what?

    I noticed that yesterday when I downloaded and installed the upgrade to the Skype App. I will not be using Skype for 3G calls period!! Regardless of their reason it's absolutely ridiculous....
    Masari.Jones
  • Not the whole picture on the Skype vs. cell phone problem

    Verizon:
    Skype to Skype uses your cell minutes, even if you have unlimited data plans.
    If you have an online number with Skype so others can call you via their phone into Skype, it won't work with Verizon Skype. Their call will just ring and ring and your cell phone running Skype will just sit there silently.
    Granted the cell companies were alarmed at the potential data use that Skype would generate, but why, Verizon, WHY did you disable Skype on the Droids from using WiFi when it was available to use?
    david@...
    • It's not about naughty customers USING data on their DATA SERVICE PHONE.

      @david@... it's about naughty customers MAKING PHONE CALLS that - depending on your plan - DO NOT COST LIKE CELL PHONE CALLS.

      When Skype launched, you could run the software on your PC and speak to anyone in any country in the world (who also had Skype and an Internet connection) and not pay international phone call charges, or any other call charges.

      Well, they have to make a living, and I for one do not mind paying a small charge to Skype for a useful service - instead of paying an enormous charge to an old-type phone company for the same thing.

      If the charge gets any less small, well, that's what competitors are for. (Although probably everybody will be paying H.264 licence fees in... I think they said 2015. Maybe per minute.)
      Robert Carnegie 2009
  • RE: Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what?

    I'm from NZ and incur heavy roaming charges on my cellphone. My preference would be to use Skype on a WiFi network when offshore, and never use the local 3G service.
    Thamblyn
  • Do not Understand?

    Honestly Why? have anything on the phone but the net connection? all phone calls just can go through the net?
    In fact! Why the hell do i have to pay line rental, and for phone calls from my home phone?! Like why? Why does it not just go through the net? Obviously phone companies are unwilling to give up redundant money making systems, that basically are just money making scams now!
    SCIFENEFICS
  • RE: Skype to charge for 3G calls; wait, what?

    if you will use skype on your mobile phone through Fring then they will not know that you use it on your mobile , so they will not charge you extra!!!
    bennystan@...