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Skype Unleashed Onto Cell Phones 74

Posted by Zonk
from the phree-as-in-phones dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today Hutchinson announced that it would provide unlimited cell phone to cell phone Skype calls via a 3G connection. This new service, called X-series, is part of a new alliance made up of Skype, Sling Media, Yahoo, Nokia, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Orb and Sony Ericsson. According to the article, users will also be able to 'search Google and Yahoo, send MSN instant messages to their friends, watch their TVs from a Slingbox, access their computer at home with Orb and buy or sell stuff on eBay.' Users will only get charged a monthly fee for access, in a similar way to broadband charges."
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Skype Unleashed Onto Cell Phones

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @04:49PM (#16876402)
    Prob is that the fine print for unlimited data plans says no voip!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hughk (248126)
      Ah but many PDA phones and some of the new Nokia phones (E61, E80) have WiFi. You can run VoIP over a WiFi either at home or through local hotspots supplied by your provider (or anywhere else).
      • Re:Fine print... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mypalmike (454265) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:24PM (#16876960) Homepage
        Ah but many PDA phones and some of the new Nokia phones (E61, E80) have WiFi. You can run VoIP over a WiFi either at home or through local hotspots supplied by your provider (or anywhere else).

        But then you're not running it over 3G, which is what this news is about.
        • by skuzz03 (970606)
          No VoIP sounds like a Verizon ToS thing - most other providers aren't as gay as Verizon and actually allow users the true definition of "unlimited."
        • by hughk (248126)
          The point that I was making is that the devices can make VoIP calls. It was intended for WiFI but a data connection is just another access point as far as the telephony software is concerned. The big issue is that terminating a call in a PSTN network can cost too much. Part of that is the PSTN's hook-up charges, part of it is your air time provider's margin. The margin isn't fixed so if I call international, the call becomes very expensive. Now if you are concentrated in the airtime market, you are being li
      • or does this remind me of the "class action lawsuit similar to the one launched by Microsoft and Coke against PepsiCo last year"?
    • by ambrosen (176977)
      Not in this one.

      I guess they're biting the bullet on this one and hoping to make some money on inbound and legacy style calls.
      • by McFadden (809368)
        You can already get an unlimited talk plan for a set monthly price from a number of providers using the conventional system (i.e. non-voip); although I live in Japan, so I have no idea how thing are in the US.
        • Things are terrible in te U.S. We will always be 5 years behind you guys.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Magi77 (753373)
            Don't forget the chinese too mate... They have been using Voip from conventional mobiles since ages. US operators doesnt want folks to enjoy dirt cheap voip from conventional mobiles.
  • With the exception of Skype, aren't most of these things possible on phones already either as pre-bundled applications or as Java downloads?

    I suppose the really critical thing (rather than the application and content) is that there will be no per-data fee, it's a one off monthly cost as with broadband. Internet on the go with a broadband price plan.
    • Is price even a bonus? I've got an unlimited Net connection on my phone, and it's bundled in the price I pay, already.
    • Huh? You can download skype too. The main benefit here is being allowed to do all of it for a flat rate (assuming that guy talking about the fine print of not allowing VoIP on the flatrate contract was wrong). In Europe, and by the sounds of it, the US too, the telcos are making a killing by charging per MB for data (and charging outrageous prices for ringtones and stuff, teenagers apparently think it's worth it - thankfully on my WM5 phone I can just copy over MP3s if I chose, though I've gone for a standa
  • by Slithe (894946) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:02PM (#16876604) Homepage Journal
    Now I will be able to use my phone as . . . a phone!
  • by bherman (531936) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:07PM (#16876668) Homepage
    Skype, Sling Media, Yahoo, Nokia, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Orb and Sony Ericsson have announced plans to discontinue their free mobile services.
  • Admittedly I haven't utilised the internet from my mobile (cause I am a tightarse), but I was of the impression you could already connect to the internet, and through the "awesome" power of java do what ever you like, including using voip (even if you first had to remotely access a terminal capable of it). So what, (besides the unannounced flat rate) are they so hyped about? Seems they have learnt a lesson from micr$oft about selling users a product they already have by telling them "it's cool, it's hip,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jfengel (409917)
      What you're missing is that generally, you're not allowed to use your 3G for VOIP, precisely because it competes with the classic cell-provider's plan. This one explicitly set up for VOIP, and so it'll presumably be more convenient via a major mode of the phone rather than some application.

      There's also the fact that this is a flat-rate plan rather than a per-minute or per-packet plan. Presumably that's aided by specific VOIP software in the cells themselves. VOIP is a bandwidth hog.
      • 8 kbps for a typical non-Skype VOIP codec, add packet overhead and you're in the approximate range 10-20 kbps. Skype is more demanding, with one source claiming 3-16 kBps (notice the capital B). So, somewhere in the modem range, maybe up to ISDN speeds.
      • This news announcement relates to the UK's Hutchinson 3G network, which is branded as '3'. I have had a phone on this network for two years. For two years they have totally blocked internet access to all other IP addresses than their own - ie I cannot access my onw web site (or PostgreSQL server) with my own phone. I also have not made a call on the phone in 3 months, because the O2 network phone I have is cheaper to use.

        In short, unless this network delivers TCP/IP functionallity properly, and fast this

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          see what happens when you let people use 3G for fully featured tcp/ip".

          Only 3 is retarded enough to block TCP/IP connections (you can actually get them to unblock, at a price).

          All the other providers *already* have fully featured tcp/ip - you can even get 3G PCMCIA cards to plug your laptop in from most of them.

          The downside is the data cost. They measure their data cost in megabytes at about the same rate that the DSL connections measure in gigabytes, cost wise - ie. mobile data is 1000* more expensive.
    • by babbling (952366)
      they have learnt a lesson from micr$oft about selling users a product they already have by telling them "it's cool, it's hip, it's happening".

      Don't knock it until you've tried it. It's working great for Apple at the moment. Every time they bring out a new color of iPod people automatically want them. Never underestimate the power of really good marketing.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:14PM (#16876798) Homepage
    Skype.. the propritary, we don't speak any accepted standard VoIP provider. They might as well be AOL or Compuserve before they realised that this "internet thing" meant they had to use SMTP for email.

    Google on the other hand has standardized on an open standard for VoIP (Jingle), and has said they'll support SIP at some future point (currently the most widely supported VoIP standard).
    • by abigor (540274)
      Skype deals with firewalls and NAT better. If you know the ins and outs of SIP, you'll know that it's a nightmare on the WAN. SIP's designers pretended it's an ipv6 world when creating it (my old boss sat on several of these IETF task forces). One reason it sucks so much was the decision to embed the ip address as a TEXT STRING inside the SIP message, so it never gets NAT'd.

      Skype just works. Very, very few people care that it's closed, as evidenced by its adoption rate.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Skype just works. Very, very few people care that it's closed, as evidenced by its adoption rate.

        They'll start caring when they can't reach someone with a different VoIP provider. Communication requires open standards, not proprietary ones. If you want to work over a NAT, use IAX2.
        • by abigor (540274)
          Oh, I'm with you on the openness bit, believe me. I'm just stating the facts as they stand. What my personal opinion is doesn't really matter much.

          IAX2 is nice, but it's not geared for personal endpoints - it's a trunking protocol first and foremost, and lacks a lot of features provided by both Skype and SIP. You can make a simple softphone with IAX2, but it won't be terribly great. That's why there aren't many around.
        • by porttikivi (93246) *
          Every VoIP system needs a PSTN gateway. So it doesn't matter, which standard you use. I can call every user of every VoIP standard with SkypeOut, through the PSTN gateways, as long as they support that. And anybody with a PSTN gateway can call me in my SkypeIn number. All systems need to provide similar means. SIP sucks, we don't need it for interoperability, which it provides in theory but not in practice.

          PSTN/SS7/ISDN/PCM is the inter-operability standard, much like SMTP is for Internet mail. SIP, Skype,
          • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
            Where did you get that from? The goal is to remove PSTN from the equation. PSTN is expensive, normally charging per-minute and having call setup costs etc. VOIP is free end to end, by its nature.

            I make a lot of calls over SIP and rarely need to hit a PSTN connection... and when I do I use SIP gateways in the country I'm calling that provide a free connection to that country. Skype is horribly expensive when it forces you into PSTN - in many cases more expensive than a standard analogue phone call.
    • Skype.. the propritary, we don't speak any accepted standard VoIP provider.

      SIP sucks. That's all there is to it. Ridiculous overhead, and its preferred method of handling dropped or delayed packets is to storm the network with MORE of them...

      Although I would much prefer they were open, Skype is still a big step in the right direction. If not for Skype, you probably wouldn't see Google making its own (more open) VoIP offering.
  • Actually.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by apollosfire (954290) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:16PM (#16876828)
    That's Hutchison [wikipedia.org], not Hutchinson.
  • Latency? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have Cingular's unlimited plan for the internet. The lowest ping I've ever had was 800ms, and I average 950 to 1150. Combine this with my maximum of 4Kb/s, how exactly is voip going to be feasible?
    • by Nahor (41537)
      Easy....you....just....need....to....speak....slow ....ly....
    • by Tack (4642)
      At 4KB/s, I'm willing to bet you're using GPRS and not HSDPA (or even EDGE). The announcement says this is for 3G networks. Cingular does have an HDSPA network (though I have no idea how good it is or what the coverage is).
    • Edge is not 3G. 3G service from Cingular comes in the form of UMTS/WCDMA, and is still in its infancy. It's now available in certain cities, but the phones to select from is limited at best.
  • Fuck I've been sitting here trying to reason why competitive companies would be willing to lock a share price from one of their operations. Isn't it illegal for the government to allow an alliance in an industry that needs to stay competitive?

    Fuck, it's the end. The company name is 3? The service is called X-Series. And I'm living in a joke, right??! Someone allowed the (1) creation of the ultimate fortress in the history of business technology. Hopefully not! (2) the UK, a country without a Constitution,

  • Notice the absence of network providers. They will only give out subscriber phones (usually in Germany when you make a 24 month contract to pay 10 Euros each month you get a 250 to 350 Euro reduced price tag on your phone that you purchase with the contract that leads to all the phones coming from the network providers, which ususally also give you another 200 to 350 Euro off each time you renew your contract depending on how much money they earned) that don't have that feature. Since almost all the phones
    • by jrumney (197329)

      Notice the absence of network providers.

      Hutchison, who this press release comes from, are a network provider. However, I have heard rumours recently that they might be about to pull out of the European market, so the cynic in me says this may just be a plan to increase their subscriber base in order to raise their valuation before a sale.

  • ...as a phone! :-)
  • Can anybody explain why this is a good thing? Right now, I make a telephone call on my cell phone. I get charged one flat monthly fee (that is pretty low). It really couldn't possibly be any simpler.

    What's the point of doing the same thing, but with 14 different acronyms, none of which will work together perfectly?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Threni (635302)
      > Can anybody explain why this is a good thing? Right now, I make a telephone call on my cell phone. I get charged one flat monthly
      > fee (that is pretty low). It really couldn't possibly be any simpler.

      If you've got a low monthly fee for a cell phone contract which will let you call people anywhere in the world on their cellphone for no additional fee then I want to know about it!
      • by NineNine (235196)
        Nah, it's just national. I had no idea that this had anything to do with international calls. Canada is about as international as my phone calls get.
        • by xilmaril (573709)
          Even so, I'd love your phone plan. I live in Canada, and my calls get about as international as... inside my own province. And here I am paying $50/month, plus extras if I use more than 100 minutes out of my local region (ie phoning parents), and with limits on how many text messages/voicemails/daytime calls I can use per month without huge extra fees. And it's as good a phone plan as anyone in my area has.
          • What Carrier are you with?

            Bell Mobility offers some very competitively priced long distance plans.

            Look at the Business Canada [www.bell.ca] plans, which have an option of unlimited E/W starting at 6pm for an extra $32 a month.

  • by OlivierB (709839) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:03PM (#16877482)
    ... anytime soon?

    Or do we have to rip it ourselves from the phones once we get our hands on them?
  • I remember reading some wirelss/3G forum posts of people who already tested this some time ago and it turns out only CDMA2000 (or WCDMA) based 3G networks are able to run VOIP (e.g.Skype) without any issues. This means that only Sprint and Verizon Wireless (and others who are CDMA based), in areas with EVDO coverage + unlimited data plans will be able to enjoy this, and most of the US is still on CDMA 2000 1X (for now, at least).
  • I wonder if they'll enable SkypeOut on these phones. The long-distance call providers would probably not be able to compete with SkypeOut pricing on these phones. You could make a killing by simplifying the process of using SkypeOut - users don't even have to know that they're riding on SkypeOut for their long-distance calls. If anything, call quality would be improved!
  • It will be really interesting to see the reaction from cell phone companies as people begin to move to only having a cheap data connection and using Skype. They'll probably shoot data rates up for a while then get wise and start their own VoIP service that comes "discounted" with a data plan. This is the wave of the future, but like most companies cell carriers will fight tooth and nail for the next 10 years trying to keep us all in the past.
  • Skype Unleashed on to Cell Phones

    Dear SlashDot!

    Few metaphors are as worn-out and abused as the "unleash" one. Please, leave it to the marketoids, so that we can continue to spot them the same way, we spot head-hunters by the "touch base" metaphor.

    Thank you very much! Sincerely,

    The Audience

  • I've been able to do this for almost a year now, using my Verizon xv6700, unlimited data plan ($45/mo) and the WM5.0 Skype Client. What's new? The problem with running 3G on your phone constantly, though, which is what you need to do in order to receive calls over skype, is that it sucks down battery life like nobody's business. Standby is simply no longer an option. 3G (EV-DO) data connections make a virtual phone call, except the battery consumption is twice the normal battery consumption for a standa
    • Skype actually isn't a data service on these phones. The connection is through a free call to the server and it bridges to VOIP at the server. So it doesn't suck up battery, and you won't be interrupted. Oh and it doesn't require a wi-fi hotspot either.
      • That should theoretically be possible from any handset, then, but you still run into the toll-free numbers still eating up minutes on cellular phones. It sounds like the way to go would be to build contracts with existing carriers, but how many are likely to support it?
        • That's exactly what this is! 3 has this supported as part of their service. It doesn't use any airtime minutes in this solution. In the non-carrier product, yes it uses airtime minutes to make skype calls. (And skypeout minutes to receive skype calls on your cell).
          • I think you're confused. According to the fucking article, skype works over 3G networks, AKA data. The service provider in question is 3, a european cell carrier. The technology would be UMTS/WCDMA, with similar data speeds to what Cingular just released here in the US. The novelty in Europe is more that data plans are seldom unlimited, thanks to the increased cost of operating traditional GRPS services versus the technology used in CDMA networks. WCDMA, the new standard replacing GRPS, is cheaper to o
            • It uses 3G to only to set up the call. The actual call doesn't use the 3G network at all. It's iSkoot's application that's powering this, not mobile Skype.

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