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Summary:

Josh Silverman, chief executive officer of Skype, wants to make sure that his Internet communications service works over the 3G networks of various phone companies including AT&T. He is going to be speaking tomorrow at an event organized by the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., extolling […]

et_josh_silverman_large.jpgJosh Silverman, chief executive officer of Skype, wants to make sure that his Internet communications service works over the 3G networks of various phone companies including AT&T. He is going to be speaking tomorrow at an event organized by the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., extolling the virtues of an open mobile ecosystem and the importance of apps. The good news is that Silverman will have an audience that will include FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, himself a champion of the open mobile Internet. (Genachowski is a member of GigaOM’s Top 15 Mobile Influencers.)

Skype is currently in the process of being carved out of its parent, eBay. A group of investors led by Menlo Park, Calif.-based private equity firm Silver Lake Partners are buying about 65 percent of the company from eBay for roughly $2 billion. For Skype, the next phase of growth is going to come from mobile phones. So far, Skype has benefited handsomely from the iPhone.  In July 2009, the company said its iPhone application was downloaded about 4 million times.

“The usage on iPhone is pretty good, but it is still handcuffed,” Silverman said in an interview last week. He talked to me at length about all issues pertaining to Skype, except he wouldn’t discuss its lawsuit with JoltID. Silverman is convinced that Skype usage would go up if the service worked on 3G networks instead of being restricted to just Wi-Fi. Most people want to use their own mobile applications instead of being herded by carriers, Brookings noted in a study released last week.

Skype is one of those applications. “Most people want to use Skype over the wide area networks,” said Silverman. If it is allowed to work over the 3G network, then Skype starts to challenge the voice services of the cellular providers, something that isn’t likely to be viewed favorably by Ma Bell and its cohorts. “We want the telcos to get out of the way,” he argued.

“It is one Internet, and it doesn’t matter what (kind of) network and what device you use to get to it,” said Silverman. He sees no distinction between a PC or an iPhone, just as there is no difference in wired and wireless networks. Silverman might get his wish when we see faster 4G-styled networks powered by technologies such as Long Term Evolution and WiMAX become commonly available. At present, the 3G networks can be described as fragile at best, and they don’t have enough bandwidth to offer a decent Skype call experience.

Related: “Interview With Skype CEO — Where is Skype for the iPhone?

The rest of my conversation with Silverman, including a discussion about his company’s platform strategy and its plans to take on the enterprise, will appear later this week.

  1. Skype is already dominating the internet communication market since many years. If it will be allowed to run on 3G, it will surely be the tough competitor for cellular providers.

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  2. I agree with the “It is one internet” concept.
    I only wish Skype would launch video conferencing(more of a Wifi based feature, of course!) as part of the mobile application, since most phones support video conferencing,
    That would make it the killer app!

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  3. “At present, the 3G networks can be described as fragile at best, and they don’t have enough bandwidth to offer a decent Skype call experience.” Smoke and mirrors, Om. T-mobile tries to get by on the bandwidth maskirovka too, but that won’t fly.

    Tried Skype on a jailbroken iPhone lately? It will call just fine even on Edge, let alone a half decent 3G network. OTOH, if your network isn’t even half decent…?

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    1. Axel

      How many people actually have jail broken Skype phones. It is hard to get average folks to jailbreak their phones. It is not as simple as it seems so from that perspective it is easier for the company to go down the legal path.

      Secondly on AT&T, there isn’t enough bandwidth. You barely get 100-200 kbps in big cities and even that is not reliable. It might be good for IM but not so good for a proper conversation. Somewhere down the line, the performance will be better.. some day.

      Anyway thanks for sharing your comments.

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      1. Malik,

        I have very interesting and timely tid-bit of information on Skype and US Patent 7,089,319 applicability and behind the scenes buyout drama. I am one of the inventors listed on the patent, and this is NOT a sales pitch of any kind. Just wanted to run an idea and a concept by someone of your experience and knowledge of social network community. I could not find your e-mail. Please contact me at anthony_remove_(at)adrodotcom

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  4. OM Malik is a moron

    “At present, the 3G networks can be described as fragile at best, and they don’t have enough bandwidth to offer a decent Skype call experience.”

    I have used Skype many times over 3G on my jailbroken iPhone. It’s the whole reason the VOIP3G App got created. It works fine. You have no idea about the subjects you opine upon.

    Never mind the internet, you need to go back to crayons. At least then you wouldn’t be lying to your readers.

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    1. Skype works fine when the 3 people who’ve jail-broken their phones are using it. If everyone was, it wouldn’t.

      And given that Skype uses 3-4x more radio capacity than a cellular voice call, I have absolutely no sympathy with the idea the mobile operators should allow it.

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  5. they should focus on getting it to work at all on android…………

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  6. “Most people want to use Skype over the wide area networks,”

    As opposed to over local area networks?? What an idiot.

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    1. Generally wide area network refers to the external portion of a network and local area network refers to the internal portion. Therefore, a local network would be say, ALL of Time Warner Cables’ cable modem users (which is a LOT of IPs). Then internet that is on the other side of that network (outside of Time Warners Local network) is a WAN. All of that is relative of course.

      If you have a Time Warner Cable internet connection, and you have a LAN, then the time warner LAN is your WAN by extension.

      Anyway, what he said was correct, it was just correct at a much larger scale than the typical home LAN.

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  7. While 3G may be bad where you are it’s plenty good in most places. If you can stream a video fine off the network then a voice conversation should be easy. Plus 7.2 mbps is being rolled out in some places as we speak. Hiding behind poor bandwidth claims is just ludicrous. The majority of poor service claims is coming from big cities with lots of bloggers (mouths) but in most areas the service is just fine and can handle pretty much any protocol thrown it’s way.

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  8. This is one of the problems with net neutrality and open mobile networks, folks. Yes, with many carriers you can use Skype without any issues and make calls that sound good enough which will slowly erode the revenue base of the very carriers whose 3G networks you depend upon.

    I am not in favor of just throwing open 3G networks for people to do whatever they want over them. BitTorrent over 3G anyone? You know people will begin doing it as soon as phones have the processing power and storage capacity to make it worthwhile. So phones already can.

    Who is going to be willing to pay $80-100 per month to use a 3G network that is so horribly clogged with torrent traffic that it becomes useless?

    For those that are saying Skype works fine over AT&T’s network: Skype maybe, but what about other services like Pandora, Slingbox, etc. Sure, AT&T’s network may be fine where YOU live, but there are plenty of people around the country complaining about service quality. The complaints basically started at EXACTLY the same time that the iPhone came out and we all know it’s not a coincidence.

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  9. [...] Skype CEO Lobbies for Skype on 3G (gigaom.com) [...]

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  10. Skype can STILL be saved. See US Patent 7,089,319. Provides them with intellectual property protection, allows to keep existing peer-to-peer architecture, opens the platform for developers, gets rid of the ridiculous Kazaa legacy augmention – plus – on the subject of G3 – enables pure HTML/JAVA Skype client creation. No more silly apps or telcos roadblocking true connectivity revolution. Spread the truth. See more at

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7,089,319.PN.&OS=PN/7,089,319&RS=PN/7,089,319

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