Skype Update Allows Calls Over 3G, Plans to Charge For It [Updated]
Skype users can finally rejoice as the app is updated to allow VOIP calls over 3G. However, it’s not all rosey with this new update as Skype plans to charge a “small fee” for calls made over the 3G network.
First, the good news: call quality is superb over 3G network. Unlike many other VOIP apps that have permitted 3G calls, Skype actually took the time to make sure the call quality was also there. We tried a few test calls using Skype over wifi and 3G and found that call fidelity was nearly matched over the two networks.
Now for the bad(?) news. Skype has plans to charge a “small fee” for using the service over the 3G network (see screenshots for in-app disclosures). The requirement for a “mobile subscription” won’t be required until
(at the earliest) August 2010 end of 2010 but it is coming. The in-app disclosures state that wifi calls will remain free, the new fee only applies to calls over 3G.
So why the long delay in releasing a 3G capable app? A quote from a February blog post on skype.com explains that:
You may have seen other apps offering calls over 3G, but we’re holding ours back for a little bit longer. Why? So that we can give you the very best audio quality we can. When our 3G-capable Skype for iPhone app is released, it’ll let you make calls in wideband audio, giving you greater clarity and fidelity – because that’s what you expect from Skype.
So, why charge a fee at all for using Skype over 3G? We’re not sure, but if I were to speculate I’d say there are probably a number of reasons. The first of which is that Skype knows that with calling over 3G possible that users will lower their minute plan with their carrier, this is an opportunity for them to get a piece if that pie. Also, we know that Skype put some effort into ensuring call quality over 3G was good. It’s possible they are recouping some of those development costs. Lastly, it’s possible Skype is treating the 3G network capability as a premium service. However, whatever the reason for the small fee to use Skype over 3G, let’s hope it will be cheap!
The update includes:
Upgrades / improvements include:
- Call using your 3G connection. Skype-to-Skype calls on 3G are free until
at least end of August 2010end of 2010, after which there will be a small monthly fee (operator charges for data will still apply).
- Near CD-quality sound for Skype-to-Skype calls using wideband audio (SILK codec) on iPhone 3GS and 2nd generation iPod touch.
- Enhanced call quality indicator.
- Improved start-up time.
- Fast access to the dial pad from iPhone home screen.
Update: Newly updated information on the upgrade app indicates that Skype has decided to delay charging for Skype to Skype calls over 3G until the end of 2010 and not August 2010 as originally stated.