Verizon is planning on adding official support for Skype to its handsets. The two companies are expected to announce a partnership at the Mobile World Congress on February 16, which will allow Skype calls to be made from Verizon phones using the provider’s 3G data plan.
Verizon, the largest wireless company in the U.S., announced Friday that it is scheduling a press conference with Skype on Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress trade show and conference here.
This would be a shrewd move on the part of Verizon. Voice calls are becoming a less and less of a profit center for wireless carriers. Look at the big price cuts that both Verizon and AT&T introduced last month: The biggest area of price savings is in unlimited voice plans. Data is still a premium, and in the case of Verizon, there are still data caps for mobile data usage.
Verizon and AT&T have each lowered their unlimited voice plans to $70 a month from $100 a month. Meanwhile, these companies have also tweaked their data services plans to force more customers to subscribe to data services. Initially, the companies only required data services for their smartphones. Now they are starting to require customers with quick-messaging devices to add on data plans, too.
Skype has become popular throughout the world as a way to make cheap international calls using a flat-rate broadband service from home. It’s unclear whether the application would offer a similar value to wireless customers.
loomberg quotes IDC analyst Rebecca Swensen:
“What’s important is that Verizon understands that, at some point, they are going to be losing voice minutes to the data world. This makes their platform more valuable for end-users. It could be a differentiator for Verizon Wireless.”
Stay tuned for more about this announcement. Verizon and Skype will provide details about their partnership at a press conference here Tuesday.