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Summary:

If you have been holding your breath for native Skype client to show up on your mobile phone, you could kick your mortal coil before that happens. At CES, Skype was busy announcing Wi-Fi based Skype devices, and actively denying any possibility of a a mobile […]

If you have been holding your breath for native Skype client to show up on your mobile phone, you could kick your mortal coil before that happens. At CES, Skype was busy announcing Wi-Fi based Skype devices, and actively denying any possibility of a a mobile client. They think that since the wireless broadband connections are too expensive, the consumers will be stuck with a huge mobile bill.

While that might be true, Skype is trying to spin its inability to make a mobile client. iSkoot has developed a client that allows you to make a Skype call from your mobile — their architecture basically runs Skype on a virtual machine on a server. There are several such workarounds. Skype could do exactly the same, but as we have reported in the past, that would go against the company ethos of running client on the edge, and not reliant on servers.

To be fair, most mobile phones are underpowered and cannot handle the Skype client’s processing needs. The data requirements are pretty high. There is a Windows Mobile version of Skype available, because Windows Mobile phones are typically powered by pretty beefy mobile processors. But those devices have their own set of phones.

The interest in VoIP calls from mobiles is increasing, and the start-ups are attracting money. Investors have explained to us that Skype’s inability to meet this market demand is one of the reasons they are bullish about the business. While that might be true, I think this is a CSVP model packaged in a mobile-VoIP wrapper.

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  1. Errm, having used Skype on Windows Mobile devices to save money – in NZ, cellular calls cost heaps, so having a Wifi-enabled phone with Skype is great – I wonder if this story isn’t based on a misunderstanding.

    Skype is entirely correct when they say cellular data is expensive. If you roam overseas, it costs even more: Vodafone for instance charges $30 per megabyte. We (Computerworld NZ) recently wrote about a businesswoman who data roamed in Australia and accidentally racked up a $5,000 bill.

    That’s bad enough, but cellular broadband is unsuited for VoIP as well. Some cellular providers block VoIP outright but you don’t need to do that. On 2G and 2.5G connections, VoIP is unusable because of the high packet latency and jitter. 3G can be OK, but the quality isn’t as good as what you get making calls over the dedicated voice channel, again because of high latency and jitter.

    Until those issues are sorted out, there’s no point for Skype to put time and money into a client for VoIP calls over cell networks.

    Wifi is another matter.

  2. The high wireless broadband costs might be true in the US, but in the UK, part of 3’s unlimited Internet access package (X-Series) is the ability to make Skype calls. T-Mobile UK do the same with their Web’N’Walk Max, but is much more expensive.

  3. I run skype on my cingular 8125. It’s great for chat, but not for voice. It simply doesn’t work with the Edge network and when connected to wifi it’s just as bad.

    I’m sure it’s a hardware limitation of the 8125, but it sure would be nice if I could get it to work.

  4. Actually, there are some fundamental technical
    challenges with real mobile VoIP (skype type).
    Before we go on the details, let’s firts define,
    mobile VoIP as a phone with a 3G
    connection only, and we want to route VoIP
    calls over this connection. No WiFi/WiMax or
    other bearer paths.

    In the above scenario, the problem with all
    2.5G and 3G technologies is latency and jitter.
    If the RTT is above 300ms, voice quality is
    extremely low, and echo cancellation techniques
    don’t help a lot. It will sound the news people
    on TV when they report via sattelite, with
    possibly seconds of delay, where you have to finish every setence with “Over”.

    For this reason, EVDO Rev A and HSDPA 3.6/HSUPA
    have standarized mechanisms for prioritizing
    traffic and bringing one-way latency to less
    than 100ms. Despite that, wireless service
    providers will control the traffic priority
    and assign their own VoIP there, and not the
    VoIP of third party applications.

    Indeed, most service providers plan to converge
    to VoIP themselves (on their own time ofcourse).
    This doesn’t mean that they will charge less
    for it, though.

  5. Brian McConnell Thursday, January 11, 2007

    I have a Nokia N80i and use it to make VoIP calls (via WiFi) using Gizmo. It works great and saves me a lot of money even in the states (I got a $400 overage charge from my carrier not long ago). So now I make most outgoing calls via Gizmo if I know they’ll last a while, and use cellular for shorter incoming calls. One of my new year’s resolutions is to cancel my land line. I haven’t touched it in three months now.

  6. There is no need for a Skype mobile client.

    Norwegian IPdrum have a new GSM-VOIP gateway which enables you to use Skype from any phones.
    You can call Skype users and making Skype Out calls. You can also receive Skype calls on any phones.

    Today the IP VoiceLink requires an online PC, but I guess they’ll launch a standalone version soon.

  7. I am in the UK and am currently running Skype on my Nokia N73 on 3. I have had no problems with quality either.

    3’s unlimited internet access helps this, but it is not actually the way the service works for the calls. Although it is the way the status and contacts are updated. When I make a Skype call via the Skype client on the mobile, it actually calls a phone number (Skype Service) this then bridges my phone to a gateway on the internet. Therefore my mobile is actually only making a normal mobile call. I assume that as I have 5000 Skype minutes on my plan per month (not part of the unlimited internet access) that 3 tracks it by how many minutes I have spent calling the Skype Service number.

    Works very well and means I can talk to Skype contacts all over the world effectively free. I say effectively because I do pay £5 per month for the plan I am on that include the 5000 minutes of Skype calls. However my Skype contacts can call me on my Skype id for free which is a huge benefit.

    The only issue I have is the 3G network for full coverage. Skype will only work in a 3G covered area so I do not get the benefit everywhere I travel.

  8. who even cares? honestly, why does anyone need skype on their mobile phone??! They DON’T, thats the bottom line..

    Cool, skype on a WM5 device using a wifi link, guess what? it still sucks. skype is awesome on the desktop or laptop. not mobile, it is very pointless

  9. I am in ca, usa on an unlocked hp 6945 running tmobile edge network and the tmobile hotspots. With the wifi connection of the hotspot i can call worldwide through skype out ~ @ .02 USD ~ i talk to friends when i can get a clear wifi signal. it really does sa ve me money.

    the skype to skype connections i can achieve are amazingly clear. more clear than any landline.

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