3 is opening its network to let anyone with a 3 SIM make free Skype to Skype calls and use Skype IM for free.
The announcement, made yesterday, is a real stunner.
From 1 May there will be no data charges or top-up fees for contract or PAYG customers using Skype on 3. Anyone who already has a Skype enabled handset and a 3 SIM can use the service.
Over the summer 3 will go further. Anyone with a compatible unlocked 3G handset will be able to buy a Skype enabled 3G SIM and use their handset for free Skype to Skype calls.
A PAYG SIM from 3 costs £1.99.
A compatible handset is one capable of running 3's Skype software. 3 is rolling out versions for 3G handsets.
So, let me get that straight.
Unlimited Skype to Skype calls for the price of a compatible handset and a £1.99 SIM.
3 clearly hopes to encourage people to switch from other operators. It reckons that regular Skype users consume more traditional phone minute than non-Skypers, send more SMS messages than non-Skypers and are more likely to browse the Internet. In short, Skypers deliver a higher margin than non-Skypers.