Last week I started an article based on Skype's lack of Wi-Fi support in Verizon Wireless' version of the popular VoIP service. Many subscribers have waited years for the application to hit the network, and up until last week, they have used other clients such as IM+ (which never could stay connected), Truphone, Fring and others. When Skype finally hit Verzion last week, users quickly discovered that the app would not connect via Wi-Fi. Thus, they were--and still are--forced to use it on the 3G network.
So before writing the article, I decided to contact our Verizon PR myself. I pitched my case. When I'm at home, I said, the phone switches to Wi-Fi to get the best, fastest Internet coverage via my wireless router. When I'm near a Wi-Fi, I'll use that option for the same reason. It has nothing to do with Verizon--it's my choice to NOT be a wireless bandwidth hog. But when I'm out and about on the road, the smartphone slides into 3G mode.
But if I were to use Skype on my smartphone-- in this case the awesomely cool Motorola Droid--I would be forced to stay on the 3G coverage if I want to keep that application active. That means I'm also streaming music, Youtube, and purchasing/downloading apps from the Market via the 3G network, all of which I normally do on a local Wi-Fi network.
With Fring, I don't need to stay glued to 3G. In fact, this app also connects to other IM chat networks such as AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger and more. I can even use my Skype account to call nationwide and internationally.
This morning I finally received a response from Verizon. Apparently this very issue has been somewhat of a thorn in its side since Skype's launch.
"Verizon Wireless is obviously proud of and confident in our network, and wanted to take advantage of the voice network for this application, which was built from the ground up and optimized for Verizon users. Our network is pretty much everywhere in the United States and 1x provides great call quality and a good user experience for Skype users (that's what we thought would happen and that's what initial feedback has been). I understand your issue about swapping networks, but as we always do, we planned for this app and engineered our network to handle all the expected usage and traffic."
For now, Verizon subscribers can sign up with Skype in order to use its Skype-to-domestic and Skype-to-international plans, and then simply use a client like Fring that seamlessly handles both 3G and Wi-Fi networks. There's also non-Skype VoIP services such as TruePhone which also provides cheap long-distance calling, but also supports Skype instant messaging.
To better compete with third-pert clients, Verizon an Skype may need to implement Wi-Fi at some point, especially for users who simply want to chat.