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Verizon Responds to No Wi-Fi on Skype

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.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • climber
    This is to make sure you use all your bandwidth and they get the extra coin from overage charges, no surprise.
  • rmmil978
    No, the main reason they're doing this is so that if you use the Skype-to-domestic calling it uses your Verizon minutes. It only doesn't use minutes if you call Skype-to-Skype. This is so that you don't buy one of the ultra cheap US Skype monthly plans (like $2.95 a month) and make all your domestic calls via the Skype app. If you could do that, then no one would ever have to worry about overage charges on minutes again. And who would want THAT to happen?
  • Niva
    I honestly don't know much about these plans so I may be asking a stupid question but here's what I gathered: Skype to Skype is still free of charge, except for the 3g bandwidth you consume while making the call. Is this correct?

    If so it makes perfect sense from Verizon's perspective. Also curious about the Skype monthly plans rmmil mentioned above. Are those really not an option if you're using it on a Droid?
  • tayb
    The multiple faces of Verizon.

    Face 1: There is too much bandwidth usage. We need to switch to a service where you pay for the amount of bandwidth you consume.

    Face 2: Our network was engineered to handle this much traffic. No need to use wi-fi, our network can handle it just fine. Enjoy your unlimited data.
  • frozenlead
    Please email them back and ask what the reasoning is behind (the future) removal unlimited data plans. Seriously? This makes no sense.
  • TurinX
    That's really amusing. I can't use 3G to make calls over skype on O2 here in the UK, and i'm frustrated. You can't NOT use 3G to make calls and you're frustrated.

    The reverse issue for both of us and the outcome = customer unhappy in both cases. You'd think the telcoms would learn...........
  • the_krasno
    ...third-pert clients...

    How much do you pay your proof readers? I can offer a better deal ;)
  • dman3k
    Sticking to Google Voice. International calls are cheaper too.
  • joebob2000
    Bzzzzzzzzzzt. Try reading that TOS again. Verizon has limited Skype to *only* domestic-to-international calling, via 3g. Basically they say that as long as you are OK with buying a data plan, they will give you the privilege of buying Skype service in order to make international calls, which they make little to no money on anyway.

    The way I see it, they wi-fi argument has nothing to do with their network, it is a result of Verizon wanting to hang on to international roaming kickbacks. If you had wi-fi support, you could travel internationally and make all your calls via skype at a ridiculously low rate, instead of the $1 or more a minute Verizon will bill you.

    On top of that, like I said they have forbade using Skype for any domestic calling, since that would allow you to use your data plan instead of your precious anytime minutes.

    All in all, Skype on Verizon is a neat toy but ultimately too restricted to be useful, unless you both live and stay inside the US, and like to make calls abroad.
  • c4v3man
    The reason why it doesn't work on wifi is because it's using voice data for voice chat. It's not VOIP, it's a free phone call to a server on verizon's end that then connects you to a voip session. Seems pretty obvious on my Storm when it dials some odd number to begin the skype call.