Verizon Wireless Opens Its Doors to Skype

Under an agreement reached Tuesday, Verizon users who are signed up with data plans will be able to use Skype on their smartphones as soon as next month, according to Bloomberg. Verizon also plans to allow subscribers using Blackberry and Android handsets to use Skype on its data network.

Skype has been a controversial application for carriers, which initially saw it as a threat their voice business but are now realizing its potential for driving data traffic. Although Skype runs on the iPhone if a user is connected to a Wi-Fi network, it's not yet supported on AT&T's 3G network.

The Skype application will be free on smartphones for Verizon's estimated 90 million subscribers. According to CNNMoney, customers will be able to make international calls at Skype's normal rate of 2.1 cents per minute, which is much lower than Verizon's international rates. Instant messaging and monthly unlimited packages will also be offered as options with the Skype application.

Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has been aiming to beef up its data plan usage as demand for voice calls stalls. Meanwhile, interest in Skype is growing rapidly, and its software is being downloaded at a rate of 300,000 per day. Skype currently has 521 million users who consume an estimated 12 percent of the world's international minutes, according to a Tuesday USA Today report.

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Bit by bit, Skype is conquering more markets as global communication shifts from an expensive luxury to a cheap necessity. Last month, Skype rolled out its latest version of Skype for Windows, which can deliver HD-quality video at 1,280 x 720 resolution with a 30-frame-per-second refresh rate. If Skype continues to improve its user experience, its progress looks set to continue.