3 Mobile have teamed up with Skype to offer free calls across the Internet using their new Skypephone. The Skype network has, within a very short space of time, become hugely popular for making free Internet calls through handsets that are attached to your PC and has built up a large customer base that recently prompted a buyout by eBay. If popular, this brave step by 3 could prompt an end of pay as you talk tariffs and push other mobile phone networks into action to try and offer similar competitive deals.
The new Skypephone from 3 has all the functionality you would expect from a modern day mobile phone including 3G, a 2-megapixel camera, mp3 player, mobile TV and internet plus the handset looks stylish and comes in either black or white with pink or blue trims. The Skypephone includes 16MB internal memory and comes with a 256MB micro SD memory card which is also expandable up to 1GB. The large Skype button in the center of the handset allows for quick and easy access to the Skype menu where you can simply make a free call or write a text message to people within your friends list.
The biggest challenge for the 3 Skypephone is encouraging people who are not already signed up with Skype, or whose friends are not members of Skype, to buy the phone. If this hurdle can be cleared then it could create a domino effect which would push all other mobile phone networks to provide a similar service and may make Skype a major player in the world of telecommunications. Once you are signed up to Skype you will not only be able to call people using the 3 Skypephone but also talk to friends connected to Skype through their PC.
3 Mobile offer the Skypephone on either pay as you go or monthly contract deals. The payg deal currently costs £49.99 for the Skypephone handset and requires you to top up your phone with at least £10 credit for standard voice calls and texts. The contract deals start from £12 per month with a minimum tie-in of 18 months.
The Skype deal from 3 is also available with other compatible mobile phones such as the Nokia N95 or the Sony Ericsson W910i which makes the offer a lot more flexible and doesn’t tie customers to a single handset. For non-e 3 Mobile customers Skype is also compatible with mobile phones that run the Windows Mobile operating system, plus it is possible to connect to Skype using Fring (a third party mobile VoIP application that enables free mobile internet calls and live chat to other fringsters and PC-based services including Skype, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN Messenger and Twitter) through a mobile phone with the Symbian operating system.
This fantastic offer could help encourage a reduction in prices of mobile phone calls and it is likely that other mobile phone networks will be keeping a close eye on how the collaboration develops. Flexibility is the key and by allowing customers to choose whether they make calls through Skype or through normal network services, the Skypephone should be a huge success.