UK Network 3 has announced that it is teaming up with Skype to give free, unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messages to 3 customers, forever and without any strings attached.
At a press conference a few hours ago, executives for the two companies laid out the plans which will see anyone with a 3 SIM card - available at a cost of £1.99 only - and a compatible Skype-enabled 3-branded handset enjoy the free VoIP service as from the 1st of May.
During the summer, the mobile network operator will expand its service to allow anyone with a 3 SIM to make and receive calls from any compatible unlocked 3G handset regardless of whether the phone is actually from three or not.
This essentially converts the 3 network into a giant Push-to-Talk supplier for Skype where users will be able to leave their phones on all day (or even use them as baby monitors) for free.
The obvious reason why Three is doing this deal with Skype is that the company wants to build on what many see as a very compelling unique selling point. All other mobile network operators in the UK and in mainland Europe have strict terms and conditions to out-law the use of voice over IP technology.
3 UK users currently make more than 10 million Skype minutes every week and since the first Skypephone was launched back in 2007, the number of Skype users have surged to more than 430 million worldwide.
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It is still early days but it is refreshing to see that a VoIP provider and a traditional mobile phone provider can come together and work as partners. We strongly believe that this is the way forward. There are a number of questions though that need to be answered. How will it impact on Three's bottom line, will users be able to use Skypein and Skype out options? Great times indeed.
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