Skype: We are not the enemy

Skype is looking for a positive relationship with mobile network operators — even as it plans to ultimately make them redundant

A senior manager at Skype has called on mobile network operators to stop seeing the voice-over-IP provider as the enemy, whilst admitting that it will make a big push into the mobile space over the next year.

Speaking at the Wireless Event in London on Tuesday, Skype's head of business development, Eric Lagier, told delegates his company sees network operators as essential partners — even though its ultimate aim was to be "network agnostic".

"It is for us to educate the operators about the use of Skype so that they don't see us as the enemy," Lagier said. "We are providing users of their network. Eventually they will see that [they have] to give their users a choice."

T-Mobile recently banned users of its new HSDPA-ready datacard from using VoIP or IM clients through the network. Hutchison's 3 service, on the other hand, signed a partnership deal with Skype earlier this year.

3G services form an integral part of the company's mobile ambitions, but Lagier admitted that Skype was having problems with 3G's indoor connection quality so far.

"HSDPA will help, but we have realised that we need to look into ways of how to deliver Skype independently of the networks," he said.

Lagier then went on to describe how Skype had made a significant investment with Google in building a global Wi-Fi network, claiming: "Over time, we will connect [to] a network globally for free."

Lagier claimed that Skype is gaining 220,000 users per day, and described the next year as "where we really start to venture into the mobile space".

"We are currently working with Nokia to develop a Skype-friendly phone," he said by way of example. He also cited a similar collaboration with Motorola on a Linux-based handset.

The "endgame", Lagier said, was to provide future users a dual-mode phone with the ability to use a single number and identity, whether for IM, VoIP, video or email.