Following through on a promise made earlier this year, Skype has released the new version of its application for the iPhone, which now supports calls over 3G data networks. Previously, the Skype iPhone app had enabled Wi-Fi calls only.
“Using Skype on 3G has been the number one request among our iPhone customers,” said Russ Shaw, Skypes GM for mobile networks, in a statement.
In February, soon after the release of the iPad, Skype said that it would release a version of Skype for iPhone that includes 3G capability soon. At that time Apple upgraded the software development kit for the iPhone operating system to remove restrictions on calling over 3G networks.
You may have seen other apps offering calls over 3G, but were holding ours back for a little bit longer, said Skype on the official company blog. Why? So that we can give you the very best audio quality we can.
The new 3G-enabled iPhone application, which is compatible with the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and the iPad, is said to provide CD-quality sound. There is a catch, however: While Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G networks will be free for an initial trial period, running until the end of this year, Skype said it plans to begin charging for the service in 2011. The provider said it will announce pricing for 3G calls in coming month. Skype-to-Skype calls over Wi-Fi will still remain free.
Skype for iPhone was originally released in March of 2009. Both Apple and AT&T initially prevented Skype from enabling VoIP calls over 3G networks. The decision to charge for 3G calls is likely driven by Skypes need to generate more revenue per customer, as well as the need to placate Apple and AT&T by at least limiting 3G calling by adding fees.