Skype-over-Mobile Goes Mainstream
Cambridge, Mass.-based iSkoot Inc. has made its Skype for mobile phone solution available at least since February of this year, when we first heard about it. As iSkoot CEO, Jacob Guedalia likes to say, the iSkoot application "frees Skype suers from their PCs and allows them to connect with online contacts from anywhere, at any time."
Today, iSkoot announced a deal that brings the solution into the carrier mainstream. The 3G network operator and carrier 3 Group, a division of Hutchison Whampoa, has licensed iSkoot's solution and is implementing it throughout its global network. "Hutchinson actually has our software integrated in their mobile network. Our servers are sitting inside their network operations centers, and so forth," Guedalia explained to VoIPplanet.com.
This is in contrast to iSkoot's earlier implementation, which used the company's own access points and network for coverage in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia. This service, still available, by the way, requires a user-downloaded client installed on the mobile phone.
With the 3 Group implementation, the client will come preloaded on the 3G-capable phonesat this point, limited to the Nokia N73 and the Sony Ericsson W950.
Moreover, the solution has been blessed by the Skype organization itself. "We have a great partnership with them, and we anticipate that we'll work with them on a lot of deals," Guedalia said. "We have a one-of-a-kind solution."
Indeed, the Skype VoIP soft phone application requires considerable processing power, far more than you'll find on mobile phones these days. "Our technology is something that allows you to use a very light client . . . that connects to our server and the network, which does the heavy lifting and enables the Skype functionality to work," Guedalia explained"on pretty much any phone and any network."
The iSkoot solution utilizes both the voice and data channels. "We leverage the voice channel for the first leg of the connection to our gateway," Guedalia told VoIPplanet.com. "The data account is only required for getting [Skype's] presence information to the phone."
3 Group's X-Series program is one of the most ambitious attempts we've seen to get mobile phone users using the service's data capabilities. In addition to Skype, X-Series customers will also be able to use Google, eBay, Orb (accessing media from the home PC), Sling (TV), Yahoo services, and Windows Live Messenger.
According to Guedalia, X-Series will be charged as a flat monthly fee for unlimited usage. The service will be launched sometime in December 2006. Pricing has not been announced.